BEcause When you're having one of those weeks, you top your sister's pancake recipe with sautéed blackberries and pears
Let me start out by saying that pancakes and I have a funny relationship (I realize, of course, that any relationship with a pancake is, in and of itself, funny, but never mind that). The thing is, I crave, adore and admire them, but I'll rarely commit to making or ordering them (come to think of it, that does actually sound a lot like a relationship. Ugh).
Let me clarify that statement, though. When I say pancake, I am specifically referring to an American-style pancake, not a European-style pancake. When it comes to the French and Scandinavian varieties, I'm all in, in that 'til death do us part' kind of way. But when it comes to the thicker, weightier, and more substantial American rendition, I've always been a little fickle (try not to read to much into this...pancakes, people, we are talking pancakes.)
This does not reflect a deeper, inner battle waging between my dueling Scandinavian and American loyalties - I went to an international school, for goodness sake. I'm all about 14 different takes on the same three ingredients at a multinational bake sale, raising funds for a multinational production of The Crucible, in a setting straight out of Disney's 'It's a Small World.'
It's just that I'm so often disappointed by a stack of good ole' American flapjacks. They hold so much promise - that golden color, those crisp, browned edges, the height, the knob of butter balancing on top, and the (real) maple syrup, oh the syrup that oozes down its sides and pools, warmly at its feet. There's a reason that, other than bursting, runny egg yolks, they're possibly the most frequently posted 'food porn' on Instagram. I mean, I wake up in the morning, reach for my phone, and immediately feel the need to go all '1950's housewife' on my kitchen, whipping out the blueberries, syrup and a general sentimentality that pancakes seem to conjure up. But more often than not, I take one bite and realize that the apparent hope for a better tomorrow, isn't found in a heavy, stodgy round of pan-cooked cake.
I want crispy edges and fluffy, flavorful insides! I want a pancake that really tastes of something. And I want to have a bite and actually feel the need to have another. Rarely are those needs met.
So, this morning, I woke up exhausted and reeling from an intense week of post-vacation catch up, and an exciting venture into food videos for a company I'm totally inspired by, and I thought 'I just want to make something that makes me feel good.' No, not in that healthy, virtuous, 'I'm totally satisfied by kale' kind of way, but in that 'I'll probably feel super lethargic and regret this later' kind of way.
With a brain too tired to come up with anything on its own, I texted my sister for suggestions. 'Pancakes!' She said, 'you love pancakes! I have the best recipe for apple cider pancakes.' I thought, for a moment, of the disappointment that may very well lay ahead of me, if I ventured into the land of underwhelming hotcakes, and then, like the girl who still orders bourbon, even though she knows it'll give her a headache, decided to give them a whirl.
Oh boy. Ladies and gentlemen, she may be three years younger, but man, my little sister knows more about a good pancake than her older, hitherto-sheltered sister could have possibly imagined. These babies where everything I could have hoped for, and above all else, equal parts fluffy and flavorful. The cider flavor is subtle, and creeps in at the end, and the addition of the yogurt makes them perfectly tender. I consider myself thoroughly schooled in the art of our domestic varietal.
Make. These. Now.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and give them a good whisk to combine. Then, dig a little well in the middle.
Into the well, add the cider, yogurt, egg and butter. Then, using your whisk, combine all the ingredients, but do not over mix. It's ok if there are a few little lumps left in the batter - they will cook out. If you mix too much, you risk a tough pancake, and who likes a tough pancake? Not I.
Once the batter is ready, get working on your fruit. I used my cast iron skillet for this, because, well, I always feel like a real pro when I break out the cast iron - but you can use any pan you like.
Melt the butter at medium heat and add your pears and blackberries, then add your honey. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the pears are soft and the blackberries have released a good amount of juice. Keep an eye on things though, as the honey can burn quite easily. Just keep things moving around the pan.
Cook your pancakes in a pan over medium heat, using a little extra butter, for a couple of minutes per side. You'll know they're ready to flip, when you see bubbles bursting in the center of the pancake.
Serve them topped with the fruit and its syrup and, of course, a little (or a lot) of maple syrup drizzled on top.
The reality is, I'll probably continue to date crepes and Swedish pancakes - I mean make, make crepes and Swedish pancakes, but my eyes have certainly been opened to a breakfast cake with a little more substance. And hey, as long as it has maple syrup poured all over it, who can really tell the difference anyway?!
* For the lightest, fluffiest pancakes, use regular AP, however, if you're gluten intolerant, you can certainly swap it out for your favorite GF variety (I like Cup 4 Cup). Spelt flour, even though it still contains gluten, is a little easier to digest and manages to render the same result as AP.
** Plain, cow's milk yogurt is great here, but I'm a little sensitive to it, so I used goat's milk yogurt instead. It gave the pancakes a really lovely, savory undertone that paired really nicely with the sweet cider.