Adventures in Cooking Alone, Part 1

So, the break has begun, the students are all gone, and here I am, alone in the dorm for the next week. How do I celebrate this new found solitude and tranquility? The only way one should celebrate anything: with breakfast for dinner.

Hit the link to learn more about Mr. Knight’s Famous Banana Walnut Pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.25 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1-2 mashed bananas
  • A handful of chopped walnuts

Start out by whisking together your various white powders in a large bowl. Be sure to mix thoroughly; pancakes are unforgiving of clumpiness.Next, in another bowl, combine your milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Again, whisk thoroughly.PRO TIP: when making pancakes, melt your butter in the pan you will be using. This ensures an evenly heated end product (not always possible with a microwave), and it greases your pan at the same time.

 

 

Now you are ready to add your banana(s).

I know what you’re thinking: “Man, those are some seriously gross-looking bananas.” You’re right. That’s because I froze them. I like to freeze any fruit I’m planning to incorporate into a batter, because paradoxically it makes it easier to mix in. See, as we all learned in middle school science, water expands as it freezes. When this takes place in a fruit or vegetable, the expanding water ruptures the cell walls, utterly destroying the structural integrity of the fruit. Once they thaw, these bananas essentially liquefy inside their peels.

Regardless of how you pre-process your banana, add it to the liquid ingredients once they are mixed together. I am only adding one banana, as I want a fairly subtle flavor in the pancakes; if you want a stronger banana flavor, add two (if you do add two bananas, cut the milk down to 1 cup. Normally, my default pancake recipe calls for 1.5 cups, but each banana adds some liquid, so I cut it down to 1.25 cups with one banana, or 1 cup with two). Do your best to mash the banana up and mix it thoroughly. Take your time. This is a great step to do while waiting for a train, or watching the director’s cut of Titanic.

When your banana is well-incorporated, or Kate lets go of Leo (whichever comes first), pour the resulting yellowish goo into your bowl of white powder and mix it all together.

PRO TIP: mix the wet and dry ingredients only until they are just combined, then let the batter sit for a couple of minutes before you put it in the pan. Over-mixing, or not letting the batter sit will cause your first batch of pancakes to be decidedly un-fluffy. Give the baking powder time and space to do its job.

After you have let the batter sit for a while, dollop it into your pan over medium-low heat. Once it’s in there, you are ready for the final ingredient.

PRO TIP: whenever you want to add solid pieces like nuts, berries, or chocolate chips to pancake or waffle batter, sprinkle them into the pan rather than mixing them in with the batter. If you put them in the bowl, they tend to settle to the bottom, resulting in a first round that is way too light on the extras, and a final batch that is more chunk than pancake.

When you see bubbles forming evenly throughout the batter, flip ’em.

Once you have a nice stack of cakes, you are ready to serve. I’m having mine with a light drizzle of both chocolate and maple syrups; if I had any whipped cream, that would probably go on there too. You do whatever you want.Enjoy!

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