Saturday, September 13, 2014

Buttermilk and Banana Pancakes

Today is the day my sister returns to college, ready to start her sophomore year. My parents have the car all packed up with her things, ready for the long drive ahead of them, and she's ready to face the chilly weather of New Hampshire all over again.  I'm sending my sister off to college with a stack of banana pancakes in her belly, because what kind of sister and blogger would I be if I didn't supply hearty and delicious breakfasts, right?  It's funny that I chose to make banana flavored pancakes, of all things.  When my sister arrived home from college for the summer, I welcomed her with banana nut muffins; now that she's leaving, she's moving on with banana pancakes.  I guess my sister goes bananas for bananas. 

I happen to love baked banana treats too.  Muffins and banana bread are fantastic, and I even love a good banana cake, but I think pancakes would have to be my favorite way to work with bananas.  For some reason, they just make me think of my childhood.  I say, "for some reason," because I didn't really grow up eating pancakes.  I was a waffle-girl, 100%, and I would never trade a waffle for a pancake.  I think that whenever I did happen to have pancakes sitting in front of me, they were either of the banana or chocolate chip variety. While I can't really pinpoint how I ended up loving banana pancakes as much as I do, or why they make me think of myself as a kid, the moral of the story is that I love a good banana pancake. 

I've made banana pancakes in the past by mashing the banana and mixing it in to the pancake batter, and while they're good, I think my favorite way to make banana pancakes is the way they're shown here.  Placing sliced bananas over the poured pancakes while they're cooking on the griddle means that when the pancakes are flipped, the bananas get warmed through and they sink right into the pancake.  Sprinkling a little bit of brown sugar over the bananas before flipping them adds a hint of deep caramel flavor, and helps brown the bananas and make them sweet and tender.  The little stray bits of brown sugar that fall around the banana onto the pancakes melt and form sweet little pools of sugar on the surface of the pancake, and ensure that a sweet bite is delivered each and every time.  

The recipe for these pancakes is very simple.  In fact, you don't even need to follow this specific recipe I used to make a delicious batch of banana pancakes.  The secret lies in the brown sugar, not in the pancake base.  As long as you use a pancake base that you really like, you can adapt it to make these banana pancakes.  While I normally use my sister's recipe for really fluffy buttermilk pancakes, I wanted to try something a little different this time around.  I found another buttermilk pancake recipe that seemed very promising, so I made a few adjustments and ended up with a perfect stack of banana pancakes.  One major change I made to the recipe was browning the butter (because apparently, I like to do that to everything), and I think the nuttiness of the brown butter complemented the flavor of the bananas very nicely.  For the bananas, make sure you use very ripe bananas.  Think banana bread, and you're on the right track.  The peel should have lots of brown spots (in my case, they were totally brown), and the insides should be soft.  They're the bananas that are definitely no longer good for eating on their own, but are instead perfectly suited for things like pancakes.

The pancakes come together with just a few stirs of a wooden spoon; after a quick rest, the  batter is ready for the griddle.  I used a cast iron skillet to cook my pancakes, which I thought worked really well, but a griddle will work just as well.  Once the pancakes have been poured, arrange a few slices of banana on top.  Sprinkle a little brown sugar over them and wait for the bubbles to appear on the edges of the pancakes; when they appear, you're ready to flip.  The brown sugar will melt and caramelize the bananas as they cook, and after only a few minutes you'll have an ooey, gooey stack of banana pancakes.  The only thing that could make these pancakes better is a final drizzle of maple syrup.  It goes without saying that my sister and I completely devoured these pancakes with no trouble at all!

Buttermilk and Banana Pancakes
recipe adapted from The Kitchn


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned and cooled
2 very ripe bananas, sliced
brown sugar, for sprinkling


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, buttermilk, and milk.  Pour in the cooled browned butter and whisk together until well combined.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just barely combined.  Stir in the egg white, and stir just until a thick batter is formed.  Lumps are ok!  Set the batter aside for 5 minutes while you grease and heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat.

Drop the pancake batter onto the hot skillet or griddle using a 1/4 cup measure.  Arrange a few slices of banana on top of each pancake, and generously sprinkle some brown sugar over the bananas.  Cook the pancakes for about 2 1/2 minutes on the first side.  When bubbles begin to form around the edges of the pancakes, quickly peek underneath to see if it's golden brown; if it is, carefully flip the pancake over and cook for another 2 1/2 minutes on the other side, or until cooked through.  Repeat until all the pancake batter has been used (I like to quickly wipe down the skillet/griddle with a paper towel and then re-grease in between batches).  Serve the pancakes in a large stack with lots of maple syrup.  Enjoy!

Makes 8 pancakes


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