Happiness on a Plate - AKA "Those Pancakes"
When I told my elderly aunt & uncle my plans to open a bed & breakfast, my uncle replied, "Boy, you'll have it easy. You can buy frozen pancakes & just heat them up for your guests!"
He obviously doesn't know me very well. Perhaps not at all. He's never eaten at my house, that's for sure!
I have a distrust of processed foods, pre-made mixes with chemical names in the ingredients list, and any package in the frozen food section of the grocery store with more than one or two ingredients.
I love fresh, made from scratch foods. Food that makes you smile. Foods that treat your palate to something special. Foods you want to share with your friends.
That brings us to today's recipe for homemade pancakes. Light, fluffy, nutty-tasting - and loaded with oats - these pancakes will fill you up without making you feel guilty. And don't worry, no one will ever guess you made them with oatmeal if you don't tell them! Top these babies with fresh peaches & our homemade caramel sauce, and your family will beg for more.
This recipe contains no wheat, so it's perfect if you're following a gluten-free diet.
Just how good is this pancake? Guest comments include "This is, like, the best breakfast I've ever had!" AND "What in the world did you do to make pancakes taste this good?" (from a former pancake hater).
Once you try this recipe, you'll never be able to eat those pre-fab, tasteless, pancake-wannabes again. All it takes is a few simple ingredients, and you're ready to be a kitchen Rock Star.
This recipe begins the night before you plan to serve the pancakes. Be sure you read all the way through the directions before you begin. Makes about 16 pancakes. It is easy to divide in half if you're only cooking for 2 people, or you can cover leftover batter & refrigerate it for a few days until you're ready to use the rest.
Here's what you need:
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I use plain, vanilla or honey-vanilla)
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
4 T butter (yes, REAL butter, not a "spread" or margarine. Spreads contain water & will ruin the batter. Margarine? Ugh! Read the label!)
1/2 cup oat flour OR all-purpose flour (Oat flour makes the recipe safe if you're on a gluten-free diet. Oat flour can be found in health-food stores, bulk-food stores, or in the Bob's Red Mills section of many grocery stores.)
2 T sugar - granulated or cane
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
This recipe begins the night before, when you mix the buttermilk, oats & yogurt in a large bowl. Don't skip this step. The oats need to soak in the buttermilk overnight to absorb the liquid. My kitchen is cool, so I leave the oat mixture on the counter overnight. If your kitchen is warm, you may want to refrigerate the oat mixture overnight.
The night before is also a great time to prepare the rest of the mix. In a separate bowl, measure the oat flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder & cinnamon. Stir with a fork to blend them all together, cover, let them rest until the next morning.
In the morning, melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl and add it to the oats & buttermilk. Break your eggs into the same bowl, and stir with a fork until lightly beaten & blended. Pour into oat mixture.
Add dry ingredients, and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until blended. Don't overmix or they'll be tough. Allow mix to rest for 15-20 minutes while the griddle heats up.
Plug in your electric griddle and set the temperature to 325°. When you think it's hot, test the temperature by dropping 2 or 3 drops of water onto the cooking surface. If they sizzle and bounce, the griddle is ready. If the water drops simply sit there, wait a few minutes and try again.
Using a large spoon or a gravy ladle, portion the batter onto the hot griddle. Be sure to leave plenty of room between the pancakes. This batter will spread out a bit.
Pancakes are ready to flip when they start to bubble on top and the edges look a bit dry. Flip pancakes and wait for them to brown. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
You can serve these pancakes with butter and syrup. Or they'd be equally good with butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon & sugar. Or a dollop of whipped cream. Or cinnamon whipped cream and toasted pecans. Berries, cooked apples, cherries... the list goes on & on.
For visual appeal, though, you can't go wrong when you top these pancakes with fresh peaches and, if you're feeling a bit decadent, a bit of homemade salted caramel sauce. That's the way we serve them here at Brick House on Main, and the result is both beautiful AND delicious.
Let's start with the peaches.
These little peach matchsticks pack a lot of flavor AND they look awesome stacked on top of the pancakes. You can cut them right before you start cooking your pancakes.
I use one fresh peach for 2 or 3 servings. If you really like peaches, you can use 2 peaches. You could use canned peaches, but they won't be as flavorful and you'll have to drain off the liquid. For the purposes of this recipe, we'll be using one fresh peach. Do NOT peel. The color is a nice visual contrast.
Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/4" thick slice off your peach. Keep slicing 1/4" slices until you reach the pit. Turn the peach and do the same on the other side. I can usually get 3 slices off each side of the pit.
Cut as close to the pit as you can, on all sides. Then cut the slices into thin strips - about 1/4" wide. They should look like thin french fries. If you left the skin on, you'll see that the red color really stands out.
Now your peaches are ready for your pancakes. Take a handful of peaches and put them on top of the pancake stack. I like to hold them as if my hand is one of those "claw" machines. It lets the peaches fall randomly on top of the peaches. They don't have to be perfectly arranged. Random is more fun.
To me, this is dry and boring. I could use maple syrup, but I like to top it with a bit of homemade caramel topping. Yes, we're crossing the line to decadent here, but if you want a "wow" factor, this is it. It's not as if you're going to eat this every morning. Live a little.
You can make this topping before you start cooking the pancakes and then turn your burner down to "low" or "simmer" to keep it warm.
Salted Caramel Sauce:
2 T butter (Yes, REAL butter.)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup half & half or cream (that skim milk in your fridge won't work)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract or bourbon (optional)
Put the brown sugar and cream in a heavy-bottomed skillet or pot over medium heat. Stir just until the brown sugar dissolves. Cook on medium heat until mixture boils for 2 minutes, then add butter & salt, swirling it to blend the butter into the sugar mixture. Boil for one minute, then TURN THE BURNER DOWN TO LOW. (Optional - Just before serving, remove pan from heat and add vanilla or bourbon.)
Keep caramel warm on your burner's lowest setting until the pancakes are ready. If it seems to be cooking too vigorously, it's okay to turn it off, leave the pot on the warm burner, and then turn it back on when you've started to cook the pancakes.
Stack your pancakes, top with the peaches, and then use a large spoon to divvy up the caramel over the top of each plate. A word of warning - hot caramel will BURN if you try to lick the spoon. Resist the temptation!!!
I like to garnish with a bit of color such as a sprig of mint leaves. A few raspberries or blueberries would also look great.