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Sunday, April 6

What to Eat Sunday

Pancakes were the first thing I made from an illustrated 1960‘s cookbook, especially designed for culinary minded youngsters. It was not an auspicious beginning. While practicing my flips, I can still see the tacky, malformed disc stuck fast to the ceiling. Fortunately, that didn't dampen my enthusiasm. 

Nearly every culture, going back to the 15th century, make some version of the versatile pancake. Miss Fix It, a New Zealander living in the England, refers to her pancakes as Drop Scones. A pal from Glasgow claims they're Scotch Pancakes. And to me, they're the All-American Breakfast Food. 

It actually took me quite awhile to master homemade pancakes because of these four requirements: Batter that is neither too thick or too thin; pancakes that are not too big (go for anything from a tablespoon to 60ml/1/4 cup) patience and a hot cast iron griddle, or skillet. Cast iron works best. 

The first pancake will nearly always be a mess. I don’t know why, but this is my experience. I say patience because you can’t turn a pancake over until it has lots and lots of bubbles on top and the edges are just slightly brown. This usually takes three - four minutes. Most people turn them over too quickly. 

Banana Walnut Pancakes

What You Need 
Makes about 12 Pancakes

Melted Butter - 250ml 1c 
Flour - 500g 2c
Baking Powder 2 tbs
Sea Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 60g 1/4c
*Buttermilk 700ml/3c
Vanilla - 2 tbs
Eggs - 2 large
Bananas - 4
Walnuts - 250g 
Maple Syrup

What You Do

Heat oven to 40c/100f to keep pancakes warm as you go along.

Notes: I make pancake batter in a measuring jug. This allows you to pour the batter directly onto the hot griddle. If you don't have such a container, a large bowl works fine, just spoon out the batter.

Melt butter. Set aside.

Slowly heat griddle or pan, with about a tablespoon of melted butter, over low heat, while assembling ingredients. Make sure the butter evenly coats the entire surface.

In largish measuring jug, thoroughly combine all the dry ingredients: Flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix well. 

Add wet ingredients: Buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, and half the butter. Combine thoroughly but don't over mix. I stir everything together with a fork. A few small lumps are fine. If batter is a bit thick, add more milk or butter until it's pourable with a gentle nudge.

Peel and slice bananas and set aside.

Raise heat on pan to medium. Pour batter onto hot surface. Don't crowd your pancakes. While the first side is cooking, add sliced bananas covering as much of the surface as possible in a single layer.

Cook pancakes until you see holes bubbling up in the batter, as the sides slightly crisp up and brown. This usually happens at the three minute interval, but can take a bit longer. Flip pancake to the banana side and continue cooking another two - three minutes. Transfer pancakes to warm oven while you continue this process. 

When you've made all your pancakes, serve with any leftover banana slices, a scattering of walnuts and maple syrup on the side. 

This is such a scrumptious treat, you don't need anything else to go with it. In a true American diner though this would be served with a fried egg, sunny side up, and bacon and/or sausage. 

Ideas and Suggestions

Pancakes are a fun, versatile and forgiving food. Children especially love making and eating them.

Try replacing bananas with blueberries or thinly sliced peaches, apricots, or apples. Exchange walnuts for pecans, slivered almonds, or chopped pistachios. Instead of maple syrup, you might try your favorite fruit conserve, matching blueberry pancakes with blueberry conserve, apricot with apricot, or whatever combination appeals to you.