Saturday, April 25, 2009

Morning is Broken

It is safe to say that I am not a morning person. While some people hate being awake early in the morning, I hate being alive early in the morning. Sure, I’ve had jobs in bakeries that required me to be at work at 3:00 or 4:00 am, but that’s practically the middle of the night, which is easier for me to handle. Oh, and there was food involved.

I love breakfast foods, but have a really hard time making anything that involves significant preparation (that is, more complicated than spreading things on toast or pouring milk on cereal) when I’m bumbling around before my hands, feet, and brain are fully awake and engaged. That usually means that omelets, pancakes, waffles, quiche and the like are pushed to the weekends and become brunch.

This Saturday, however, I found myself up early with Harry, who had a work function to attend, and I thought it would be nice of me (really, really nice of me) to make him brunch for breakfast. Usually, I make him an egg sandwich on a bagel, which he loves, but this day, I would be bold and make pancakes (and blog about it). I strapped my apron over my pajamas and poured myself a cup of coffee.

I based these pancakes on the Better Homes and Gardens basic recipe for buttermilk pancakes. Since I’ve been making yogurt, I usually have plenty on hand, and have been substituting it for buttermilk, which I am less likely to have in the fridge. (This works well, since they both have acidity and tanginess.) I also had some organic bananas, which had become non-green at least and seemed ready enough for cooking and baking. I mashed one banana into the batter, and diced another and folded it in to make little banana pockets in the pancakes. I like walnuts with banana flavor, so I sprinkled those in too. I like to sprinkle nuts (and/or berries) onto pancakes as they cook on the first side. That way each pancake gets just the right mount of nuts, and there isn’t a blob of batter at the bottom of the bowl sans crunchy goodness.

Of course I knocked something out of the cupboard onto my electric frying pan (my preferred weapon for pancakery), putting a nick in it; I almost switched the measurements for the baking soda and baking powder (they’re not interchangeable!); and I forgot to fold in the diced banana until I had poured the first panful of pancakes. (I used a few choice words when I discovered this.) The pancakes were good, but tasted a little flat to me. It wasn’t until later when I was lying around watching the Food Network that I realized I had forgotten the salt. (Although the salty language I used when I discovered the left-out banana should have made up the difference.) *Sigh* Oh well, it was pretty early in the morning, and I’m clearly not a morning person. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Double Banana Walnut Pancakes

½ cup chopped walnuts
2 medium bananas, peeled (of course)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbs walnut oil (or a neutral cooking oil like vegetable or canola oil)
1 Tbs brown sugar
6 ounces plain yogurt
milk as needed (about ½ cup)
¼ tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat, or, as I prefer, heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 F.

2. To toast the walnuts, put them in a small skillet over medium heat until they just start to brown a little, and you can smell them. Stir them around the pan often. (I only let mine brown a little, because I’m always afraid to burn them.) Remove from the heat and cool.

3. Mash one banana with a fork or potato masher. Cut the other banana into small cubes.

4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt (don’t forget the salt!) in a large bowl. Whisk together to combine well.

5. Beat the egg with the oil in a medium bowl until well blended. Beat in the brown sugar and vanilla. Beat in the mashed banana.

6. Spoon the yogurt into a liquid measuring cup. Pour in enough milk to make 1 cup total. Stir to combine well. Add the yogurt mixture to the egg and banana mixture.

7. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. You don’t want to beat the heck out of this batter. There can be a few small lumps, but don’t leave big pockets of dry flour. Fold in the chopped banana. Be fairly gentle. You neither want to smash up the banana pieces nor whip up the batter.

8. Oil or butter the heated pan, or spray it with cooking spray. (I use the spray.) Pour the batter into the pan in blobs of the size you desire. I make about 6” pancakes, which is about 1/3 of batter each. (I really should measure that some day!) Sprinkle the toasted walnuts evenly over each pancake.

9. Cook the pancakes until they are golden brown on the underside and starting to bubble on the top (this is the leaveners working.) Carefully flip them over with a spatula and cook on the second side until golden brown. If your pancakes are getting crunchy before they are cooked in the middle, cook them on a lower heat.

10. Serve hot with butter and (real, of course) maple syrup. You can hold them in a 200 F oven until they are all done if your dining companions are kind enough to want you to join them. You did just make them pancakes, after all!

Makes 8 6-inch pancakes. (2-3 servings) Serving more? Double the batch or just make a second batch.


  1. Do you put the cheap syrup in the expensive bottle like we do?

  2. I can't say I've ever done that! Perhaps I should just go all the way and put something "dark amber" in fine crystal. :)

  3. Ack! Never the cheap syrup, always with the REAL maple syrup! Sounds like a great recipe, though! I'm craving pancakes now.

    Love the blog. Totally agree with you on mornings and Harry on the egg sandwiches!!