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Monday, January 9, 2012

I'll Make You Banana Pancakes

While working to avoid the grave this past weekend, I, like many people when they're ill, spent most of my time in front of the television. However, as you all know by this point, I wouldn't dare to meerly stave off death and watch television shows because that just wouldn't be enough multi-tasking for my soul. No, I also spent the time organizing my itunes music and waxing on nostalgically to the sound of The Food Network, old playlists, and my own soundtrack of sniffles, groaning and whining.

I promptly happened upon an old playlist from my senior year of college and Jack Johnson in his banana pancake making frenzy, ever so kindly, has remained stuck in my head since Friday afternoon. And this, was the first of many moments that lead me down a meandering path of wanting, ney requiring, banana pancakes desperately. I list them for you below -

1. I may or may not (read definitely did) have watched the marathon, in its entirety of The Notebook to fully capitalize on my misery. Unless you, like me, have reached borderline obsession with the classic film, you may not recall the blip moment that Noah's dad offers Allie pancakes at 10pm at night. Apparently, in the deep south circa 60+ years ago, breakfast for dinner was unheard of and very scandalous.

2. They were featured on The Cooking Channel.

3. They (sans bananas) also made an appearance on The Food Network.

Needless to say, I present you today with two glorious versions of the classic breakfast treat. However, I've decided to switch things up a bit and only provide you with one recipe. Why? Because I like mine. Keep your brows unfurrowed though, because true to my word, we still have a competition on our hands, that of method as opposed to recipe.

Today, I present you with two very popular pancake making methods and the pros and cons of both.

Let's start where I started in my foray into pancake making territory, with the recipe. Mine is as healthy as they get without risking taste. Many recipes that you read suggest protein powder and other funky replacements which definitely work in their own right, but I like to stay semi-traditional to ensure I don't lose the "comfort" in my comfort food.

What you'll find with this recipe is a light and fluffy pancake that is slightly nutty with a hint of cinnamon and a not-too-overwhelming flavor of banana. A testament to the hominess of the flavor, my little sister, with her superhuman tastebuds that can detect even the slightest variance to her favorite recipes did not recognize the whole wheat flour. Call me magical if you must.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
a dash of salt
1 tbp honey
1 average sized banana
1 cup milk (make it thinner by adding more milk by the tablespoon)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbp cinnamon
Start by mashing the banana smooth in a medium bowl - mashing utensils can include but are not limited to a potato masher (as seen here), a fork, a spoon, the bottom of a can, your hands, etc
Once the banana is mashed thoroughly, add the milk, vanilla and honey and mix just to combine

In a small separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon

Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix until combined but it's okay if there are a few lumps

Looking for ways to jazz this recipe or any recipe up? Try adding fruits, chocolate chips, substituting alternative spices to the cinnamon such as pumpkin pie spice or even cocoa powder.

Or, if you're in dire need of a mood brightener as I was this weekend, literally brighten them up with food coloring.
separate half of the batter into three bowls (so you'll still have the other half in your original bowl for all those color-phobic) and add 5-10 drops of food coloring to each bowl
At this point, you've got the flavor, but everyone has different be-all-end-all pancake preferences, and different cooking methods will provide different results.

If you're looking for a method to mass produce 5-10 pancakes at a time with little oil spatter, the griddle is the solution for you.
start by generously oiling up your griddle - think of it as a sunscreen for your batter, making sure it doesn't fry up. You can use olive oil which adds a nice fruity flavor, canola which is definitely the cheaper option, or butter
Next, you'll want to turn the stove on. No, I am not insulting your intelligence. I'm simply providing a friendly reminder so that you will not follow in my footsteps and proclaim that the griddle is broken when you've merely forgotten to turn it on.

You want it set at a steady medium heat and most importantly to the process, you want to drop a tester of the batter to make sure you're not overheating or underheating.

The goal is to have the tell-tale flip sign bubbles appear within 30-45 seconds of putting the batter on the griddle
tell-tale flip sign bubbles above...aren't they lovely?
Once the bubbles have appeared, flip the pancakes and cook for another 30 seconds or so and devour.

The griddle method is ideal for making multiple pancakes, a healthier pancake as less oil is required, and a quicker process to boot. However, the clean up is not kind and takes a strong arm. Luckily for me, grateful patrons to my pancake Sunday obliged and cleaned it in full.
blueberries and fresh whipped cream - classic
However, not everyone has a griddle, so are you doomed for a banana pancake-less existence? Of course not. For you, there is always the frying pan.

The frying pan provides those crisp edges with an almost flaky top and bottom and that smooth creamy center. Why is it so delicious and why is this the method most restaurants employ? Because it's fried. Typically, per pancake, the pan will need half a tablespoon of butter. This of course depends on the size of your pan. You want it thoroughly coated in butter but you're not building a dairy ocean. Food for the soul it is, food for your LDL levels, it is not.

To cut back on the calories and fat, try dousing your pan in Pam or a similar no-calorie spray butter.

To start, turn your pan on to medium heat and add your fat of choice - half a tablespoon of butter/margarine or a generous load of Pam.

Again, test the pan with a small bit of batter to make sure you're at the perfect goldilocks temperature.
At this point - add the batter, one pancake per batch
Allow the pancake to cook until bubbles begin to appear and the sides begin to fold upwards away from the pan.

Then flip and cook for another 30 seconds or so and remove from pan
As you'll note, the butter gets brown rather quickly, so you'll need to pour browned butter out between pancake batches and add more.

Cooking on the pan can be somewhat messy and the butter will spit up at you, but if you're fearless, these pancakes taste just like they snuck out of your favorite diner and popped up in your own kitchen.

I hate to let the last of the butter go to waste, so I took an apple, sliced it up and sprinkled it with a teaspoon cinnamon and promptly plopped it in the pan
I let each side cook for around 2-3 minutes until they softened up but maintained a bit of a bite to them in the center

with the apples and a drizzle of maple syrup, this batch tasted like an apple cobbler

Do you know of any other home-cook methods for whipping up your favorite pancake recipe?

Have you any menu items that have haunted your dreams as of late?

1 comment:

  1. omg such a great idea cooking the fruit in the remnants!