Tuesday, February 24, 2009
An indulgent breakfast
Pancakes make me happy. They make me especially happy when they are light, fluffy buttermilk pancakes doused in maple syrup and served with crisp, salty bacon on the side. Could there be any better start to the day?
Much as I love them, pancakes are not something I could eat every day. They are special because they are a rare treat. But they must be made well; there's nothing more disappointing than a flat, tasteless, rubbery pancake.
Pancakes, pikelets, crepes, galettes, blinis, hotcakes ... there are many variations on what is essentially a simple mixture of flour, eggs and milk. It can be as simple as a pikelet fresh from the frying pan, slathered in melting butter and a dollop of good raspberry jam, as elegant as a buckwheat blini topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, or my favourite indulgent breakfast of buttermilk pancakes as described above. Some of my favourite breakfasts around Melbourne are based on pancakes: ricotta hotcakes with lemon curd and strawberries at Replete Providore in Hawthorn, or ricotta hotcakes with lavender ice-cream and poached pears (as served at the Rathdowne St Food Store). And I have very fond memories of eating galettes with cider in Brittany in France. I was almost tempted to bring home my very own galette pan until its heavy weight put me off. Fraus in North Melbourne do a perfectly acceptable version though.
Shrove Tuesday is always a good excuse for me to make up pancake batter. Adam and I have developed our own Shrove Tuesday tradition of buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup for breakfast and it's something we look forward to. The ultimate pancake recipe for me is the buttermilk pancakes from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion and I've written before about how much I love these pancakes. The buttermilk gives the pancakes a light and fluffy texture. They are neither sweet nor savoury but take on the flavours of what you choose to serve with them.
Most importantly, the batter is a simple concoction and can be mostly prepared the night before. The next morning, you only need to whip up eggwhites and fold into the batter, so these pancakes can be just as easily prepared on a workday as they can on a lazy weekend morning.
Go ahead and indulge yourself, whether it's Shrove Tuesday or not; it's worth it.