Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday Morning Breakfast (but on Saturday): Banana Pancakes

Usually on Sunday mornings, the hubby and I go out to our favorite diner (Bob's in Roxboro) and get breakfast.  I get pancakes and he gets some sort of egg dish (depending on his mood) in addition to some great company from the staff and other customers. Since this weekend I would be visiting a friend in North Jersey and unable to make our normal Sunday sojourn, we decided to make Saturday our day for our big breakfast. 

Of course we woke up too late on Saturday morning to make it to the diner and get my husband to his class on time, so we decided to make breakfast ourselves. I made one of my favorites: Banana pancakes.

I'm a freak when it comes to pancakes, and have to use a pancake batter I make from scratch--it truly produces a MUCH better pancake at a fraction of the cost of buying a mix and is just as easy to make as from a store bought mix.  The recipe I use is adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, and I've modified a few things that I've found work better:

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg (beaten)
3/4-1 cup milk (I start with 3/4 and add up to 1 whole cup depending on how the batter is turning out)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 banana
*If you'd like to use buttermilk instead of milk, use 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda

The equipment:
A frying pan or griddle
Measuring spoons
Dry measuring cup (for measuring and scooping)
Liquid measuring cup
Medium bowl
Spatula (not a rubber one)

First the dry ingredients:
I dump them all into a bowl (flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar) and whisk them together quickly before adding the wet.  This helps you not have to mix as much once you add the dry and avoid tough pancakes.

Then add your wet.  PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU BEAT THE EGG FIRST!  Again, this shortens the amount of mixing and helps you avoid the tough pancakes--a kiss of death in my eyes.

Only mix enough so that the ingredients make a batter.  There will be lumps, and should looks something like this:

*A smooth batter is an over-beaten batter and you will end up with less fluffy and possible puck like pancakes if you mix until smooth.*

I'm a big fan of butter for all things, and I do cook pancakes with a bit of butter.  Heat your pan or griddle first before adding the butter over medium heat.  If you add the butter and it burns, you just saved a pancake from death because you know the pan is too hot.  Mine just melts enough to swirl it around the entire pan before it starts to bubble like crazy.

Add scoops of the pancake batter using your previously used dry measure cup.  I usually go for 1/2-3/4 full as I like big pancakes, but you can do whatever size pleases you.  After a 1/2 cup of batter goes in, I slice the banana directly into the pancake and then drizzle a bit of batter over the top to seal it all in.

I find that adding fruit to the batter bowl is a bad idea: they tend to lump together and berries turn the batter purple or pink (depending on what you're using).

Then DO NOT TOUCH THEM.  Just let them be for a few minutes.  I promise they'll be okay.  You don't need to poke them, check them, etc. 

Once they start to dry around the edges and you get a good smattering of bubbles coming through, then you can check the bottom.  I like mine a bit more than golden brown, which ensures that my big pancakes are cooked in the middle, too.
Once you decide to flip, DON'T TOUCH THEM!  Leave them be for a few minutes, and please don't smush them down.  This is my pet peeve.  You're not helping them cook faster--you're popping all the bubbles inside that you just made and taking the fluffy goodness out.  After two minutes, check the bottom and if it matches the top, plate it.

Repeat the cooking process (you might not need more butter) until all of your batter is done.  With this batch, I got 5 huge pancakes out it, enough for at least 3 adults.

Now here's my secret--I make a warm syrup and butter concoction to pour over the pancakes in my pan.  I loathe cold syrup on my pancakes. 
*Please note that I don't know if this will work well with Aunt Jemima or other "maple-flavored toppings".  I only use the real stuff.  AJ might burn into your pan, since it's a different kind of sugar and ruin it.  Best to stick with real maple syrup anyway (in my opinion).*

Using your empty pan and its residual heat (burner off):

1. Add a bit of butter.  Like I said earlier, I love butter so I usually add in 1 Tbs per person.  To go with the above pancake recipe, I use just shy of a half stick of butter. Use more or less depending on what you like your syrup to butter ratio to be.

2. Let the butter melt for a bit, and then add in the syrup.  I usually add in less than 1/4 per person It may or may not bubble up in the butter (depends on how hot your pan is, really.)

3. Swirl your concoction around the pan until the butter is all melted.  You might have to turn the burner back on depending on how well your pan retains heat, but I rarely have to.

4. Dump into a gravy boat (if serving at the table), or directly onto your plate and enjoy!

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