Mr. Faraway does a lot of driving. It’s about four hours to see me, but it’s also an hour just to get to Costco or Wal-Mart from his house. It’s a way of life I have trouble relating to: Costco is ten minutes from my house, and though I grant you it takes another half hour to park once I get there, I don’t have to circle the lot five times before I leave – it’s only ten minutes home for me. He can’t get home before the ice cream melts.
So, it’s really no surprise that his car habits are different than mine: I have a little car (zoom-zoom), where he drives a large limo-service type of car, designed for maximum passenger comfort, but not great with rapid acceleration or parallel parking. And, he keeps food in his car. You get hungry on road trips, and his life, at times, is nothing but road trips. So he keeps fruit in the car, in case he gets hungry.
It’s not a car, it’s a boat, says The Child. A banana boat: He’s always got bananas in that boat.
I think you can see where this is going.
So, The Child makes a request for breakfast one Saturday morning: She wants the Spiced Banana Pancakes that inspired us to buy Flour, Too. I say, I’m sorry, I don’t have any bananas, and she shoots a look at him that says, I know you have bananas in your car, you always do. And he does, so he goes to get them.
Like everything I’ve tried from this cookbook series, these pancakes were delicious and not complicated at all to make, though there were definitely some little tricks to them. You have to press down hard on them after you flip them over, to force out all the uncooked batter, or the pancakes won’t cook through. You definitely have to cook them fairly slowly, for the same reason.
I loved Chang’s trick of using a rack placed on a cookies sheet in the oven to keep the pancakes warm but also keep them from getting soggy. It seems like one of those things I should have known, but never learned, and it’s especially useful here because these pancakes are very moist and heavy and will definitely be soggy if you try to serve a great stack of them any other way. The recipe doesn’t make a lot (just eight or nine medium-sized pancakes) – but they are very filling.
I found the recipe a little peppery for my taste, but I had recently bought some very potent pepper that I used, so that may have been the cause. You might want to cut the quantity, though.
- 1 cup/140 g all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1½ tsp ground allspice
- ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup/240 ml whole milk
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 medium ripe bananas, cut into ½-in dice
- 2 to 3 tbsp unsalted butter for cooking pancakes, plus more for serving
- Maple syrup for serving
- Preheat the oven to 200°F/95°C, and place a rack in the center of the oven. Put a wire rack on the baking sheet and place it in the oven.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, allspice, pepper, and brown sugar. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vegetable oil until blended; add about 3 of the bananas (reserving the rest for serving). Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Don’t over-mix. It will be a thick, gloppy, lumpy batter. (Sounds delicious so far, doesn’t it?)
- In the skillet, melt about 1 tsp of the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan; if the water sizzles on contact, the pan is ready. Pour a scant 1⁄2 cup/120 ml of batter into the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the edges of the pancake start to brown and small bubbles begin forming along the edges and in the middle of the cake. With a flat metal or plastic spatula, carefully flip the pancake over; the first side should be golden brown. Cook slowly for another 2 to 3 minutes. Gently press the pancake in the middle with the spatula to flatten it out a bit and make sure the center is cooked through. Adjust the heat as needed so the pancake browns nicely but doesn’t burn on the second side. Remove the finished pancake from the skillet and place it on the wire rack in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes.
- Cook the remaining pancakes the same way, adding another 1 tsp or so of butter before adding the batter each time. For these pancakes, a slower and lower heat is better; once the pan has been seasoned by the first pancake, you should be able to cook the remaining pancakes on medium-low heat. Serve immediately with butter, maple syrup, and the remaining banana.