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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coconut Pancakes

A foray outside the box:
Makes 12-15 medium size pancakes

A few Christmas Eves ago I received a beautiful little cookbook called "Marie Claire Easy" (2005) by a very talented Michele Cranston. It is a delightfully small book with stocky little pages reminiscent of potbellies. At times some ingredients, like lemon grass, dashi stock and passion fruit, can be difficult to find and expensive but that is not to say each entry isn't thoughtfully arranged and beautifully photographed. Even if you never boiled a noodle using this little gem it would be worth it to have friends fawn over it while sitting at the counter as you whip up something a little less homemade.

But, there are a wide variety of simple recipes with basic, accessible ingredients. The first of these that I gave a whirl was that college breakfast/dinner staple The Pancake. The resulting cakes were dense, slightly sweet but still devilishly tender. Did I mention there is a recipe for pineapple syrup? Most mornings the whole reason I get up is to enjoy breakfast. During finals week, though, you need a little extra motivation and what better than coconut pancakes?!

I used to whip up pancakes for dinner the night before an exam, enjoy a few with some scrambled eggs, and wrap the rest up for breakfast the next day. Slipping them into the toaster (sans syrup) did wonders bringing them back from the soggy refrigerator state I found them in. And, wa-la, breakfast was served in under 5 minutes. That means I get to sleep in, right?

*The original recipe calls for 2 bananas sliced but seeing how I was acutely out of bananas and pineapple (the accompanying syrup recipe sounds divine but will have to wait) I used a little flaked coconut. Strawberries would be a nice alternative as well if you have them on hand. I also can't make pancakes without a little vanilla so I've added that in as well. In retrospect, however, a 1/2 teaspoon of almond or coconut extract might have been nice and dare I say it... exotic.

1 cup self-rising flour (see how-to)
1/4 cup sugar (I used powdered)
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
2/3 cup milk, scant
1 teaspoon vanilla
(1/3 cup coconut, 2 sliced bananas or 1/2 cup sliced strawberries)

How-to: Make your own self-rising flour using all-purpose. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and scant 1/2 teaspoon salt to each 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Mix and sift as usual.

1. Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium heat.
2. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl.
3. Measure the milk into the measuring cup. Add the egg right into milk and whisk with a fork to combine.
4. Add the egg-milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the teaspoon of vanilla and coconut (wait to add the fresh fruit) and fold until just moistened. Do not over mix! The batter will be a little lumpy and thick. That's fine. Over mixing will make the pancakes tough.
5. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the griddle or frying pan (or a spritz of cooking spray).
6. Add the pancakes a few at a time to the griddle. They will not spread and puff as much as boxed pancakes so be sure to spread them out a little. Cook for 1-2 minutes (look for bubbles rising to the surface of the batter) and then add your strawberry or banana slices if you are using them and flip. Cook for another 2 minutes.
7. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm with syrup or with a little butter and powdered sugar.

*Note: It is hard to get the temperature of the pan right initially. Try using a little spoonful of batter to test the pan before adding your pancakes. You want the oil to sizzle gently when you add the batter but not smoke and "spit". Even the best cooks sometimes have to throw out that first pancake.

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