A simple batter poured into a hot skillet that’s used as a conveyor belt for butter and maple syrup, and so often from a mix that comes in a yellow box. I admit, I’ve made similar pancakes. They’re quick and easy to do, and generally don’t require special ingredients. They also often taste uninspired and thrown together. And, well, they are.
Cookbooks often bring about an inspiration to make a better dish for me. Welsh Heritage Food & Cooking by Annette Yates does just this for our pancakes. The inspiration? Use yeast instead of backing soda as the leavening agent. This simple change creates a whole new flavor and texture profile. It does take a bit more time though – the yeast needs about an hour to work its magic and create pockets of air inside the batter. When it’s cooked, the batter rises again just a bit to make a light and fluffy pancake. Besides the flavor, the biggest difference this change creates is a thicker batter and a pancake that’s easier to flip.
To a normally uninspired batter I added mashed up over-ripe bananas and sprinkled on chocolate chips and coconut flakes while cooking. Here’s how it all went down:
4 too-ripe-to-eat-but-not-rotten bananas
3 cups of flour (we only ever use whole wheat)
warm milk (about a cup)
water (about a cup)
4 teaspoons of yeast
2 tablespoons butter
Make the pancakes:
Warm the milk, water, and butter together just until the butter is belted. The butter isn’t actually necessary, especially with the bananas (which should be mashed at this point in a large bowl). Don’t be tempted by the microwave when warming your milk and water. You’ll end up with pockets of hot that are just unpleasant and unnecessary. And you’ll scramble the eggs, which isn’t any good either.
If you haven’t already, peel the bananas and mash them. Sift the flour, yeast, and salt to taste (a recipe this size usually calls for a teaspoon to two teaspoons of salt). Cut the bananas in to the flour. Beat the eggs into the warm milk and water, and pour this over the flour and bananas. Mix well. Cover with a tea towel (or plastic wrap if you must) and let it sit aside for an hour.
This is the hardest part of these pancakes. Yeast takes time to, as we like to say in hour house, to get happy. There’s a noticeable change to the texture and scent of the dough when it’s ready, besides rising to nearly double its original size. Unlike with most yeast breads, there’s no need to knead this one.
After an hour has passed (you really will want to wait a full hour. And please, don’t put this in the fridge. The yeast won’t do its job in the cold environment), treat your doughy-batter just like you would the pancake batter you grew up with: place a pancake sized amount into a hot skillet with butter. This doughy batter won’t bubble as much, but, you’ll see a few bubbles when it’s ready to flip. And oh is it ever easy to flip! I sprinkled on a few chocolate chips and coconut flakes while the first side cooked. You could add these to the batter instead. We topped the pancakes with butter, honey, and a bit more coconut. Why not?
As a final note, don’t let my changes limit your imagination on what goes in to these delicious breakfast morsels. What’s your favorite ingredient to add to pancakes?