Sunday, June 7, 2015

Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes

As the youngest of four children, I grew up with a lot of hand-me-down books. One of these was Danny and the Pancakes, the story of a little boy with a positive mania for his favorite breakfast: an obsession that leads, if not to disaster and grief, then at least to indigestion. I liked the pictures of pancakes, and the fact that Danny shared them with his dog, Brownie, but I was troubled that his family left him home alone, where he proceeded to do the scariest and most forbidden thing possible by cooking on the stove. As a rule-follower who always sided with The Cat in the Hat's super-ego-embodying fish, I was both horrified and fascinated by Danny's culinary hubris; the fact that I still remember this discomfort attests to its effect on my tender, infant psyche.

Years passed, and before you could say "carbohydrates" I was cooking for myself and - eventually - my own children, who share Danny's taste for pancakes, if not for dangerous gluttony. Today's recipe for Breakfast Nirvana was inspired by the Puffy Pillow Pancakes from Isa Does It, which are absolutely fail-safe and endlessly adaptable. Mashed, ripe bananas, cinnamon, and a little extra sugar add sweetness, and peanut butter replaces the usual canola or grape seed oil to work its ineffable magic, resulting in pancakes that will disappear immediately into the mouths of your adoring loved ones.

I got an even dozen pancakes from this recipe - as opposed to the even one hundred produced by Danny's - which proved more than ample for four people not intent on a visit to the ER. (NB we are big peanut butter fans at my house, but those who are allergic and/or averse can easily substitute another nut butter like almond or cashew with equally happy results.) I served these as is with Earth Balance and maple syrup, but ½-¾ cup chopped apples, nuts, raisins, or fresh berries would make nice additions to the batter if you're feeling adventurous.)

Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes
~ 2 cups plain, unsweetened soy or almond milk
~ 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
~ 1 tbsp. ground flax seed
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
~ ¼ cup natural peanut butter (or almond, cashew, etc.)
~ 3 very ripe bananas, mashed until smooth
~ 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
~ ¼ cup sugar
~ 1 tbsp. baking powder
~ ½ tsp. each: salt, cinnamon
~ Dash nutmeg

~ Place a non-stick baking sheet in a 200 degree oven.
~ In a beaker, combine the milk and the apple cider vinegar and allow to rest about 5 minutes. Add the flaxseed and whisk vigorously for a minute or so.
~ Add the vanilla extract, peanut butter, and mashed bananas and stir until combined.
~ In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
~ Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the peanut butter/banana mixture. Stir until just combined to make a relatively thick batter (you can add an extra splash of liquid if it seems too gloppy).
~ Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat.
~ When the skillet is hot but not smoking, ladle about 1/3-1/2 cup batter into the pan and smooth it out to form a circle; I usually cook two pancakes at a time.
~ Cook the pancakes for about 2-3 minutes, until bubbles start to form on the surface. Flip and cook another minute or so, and then transfer to the oven to keep warm. Continue in this way until all the batter is used up.
~ Serve hot with Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine) and maple syrup.

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