Isn’t there something just downright warm and cozy about great pancakes?
After Hurricane Rina blew through town last week, the soggy, dreary aftermath of the storm had me craving the buttery comfort of some hotcakes. I love throwing in fruits and flavors, and will almost always order an enticing flavored pancake over (albeit also beloved) buttermilk.
Banana used to be my childhood favorite. I loved how they’d stick out the end and make one side sweet, sticky and caramelized. One summer I made a mountain of sourdough pancakes to use up some starters we’d been experimenting with for my dad’s cowboy cookbook. I fell in love with gingerbread pancakes at a joint called Kerbey Lane in Austin (well known for their big-as-the-plate flapjacks), and then their incredible lemon-poppyseed special stole my heart on a recent seasonal menu.
A good friend and graphic design client of my mom’s gave me a bag of her gluten-free pancake mix to pack in my suitcase, to which I added the called-for ingredients (milk, egg, oil/butter, and a splash of vanilla).
I used almond milk and coconut oil, both of which lend a creamy, nutty flavor, and whipped the egg whites separately from the yolk to get the fluff factor. Considering some of the tips I’d found for optimum tang and texture, I also added a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt and a pinch of baking soda.
I’d picked up some fresh guavas at the market, remembering a recent lesson from Chef Pablo on cooking them down into a piloncillo, or raw Mexican sugar, syrup (recipe follows).
I thought the tropical spiciness of the guava syrup would taste great with berries, so to my pancake batter I added a cup of frozen, organic raspberries, strawberries and blackberries that I’d pulsed a few times in the blender to get broken up and easily mixable.
Although fruit is generally added to pancakes in the pan, the small pieces of frozen berry were easy to distribute throughout the batter, and the cakes cooked beautifully with a deep purple color. Boy were they tasty!
Chef Pablo Espinosa’s Guavas in Piloncillo Syrup
This makes about a cup of beautiful, aromatic dark brown syrup. The guava should still be a bit firm and bright in color (which keeps it sliceable and makes it a great garnish), so keep it at a very light boil.
This syrup comes out thinner than maple syrup; if you want it thicker, continue cooking down the liquid alone after straining.
As I mentioned in the how-to on fruit syrups, I had to skim off some foam and dirt that had risen to the top—I’d washed my fruit well, but both the guava and the piloncillo likely contributed some earth to the mix.
3/4 cup piloncillo
2 cups water
1 4-inch cinnamon stick
2 tsp lemon peel
1 lb fresh guavas, halved
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt piloncillo into water over medium heat. Once dissolved, add cinnamon stick, lemon peel and guavas. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the guavas have softened and the middles have puffed outward.
With a slotted spoon, remove lemon peel from the pot and discard. Remove guavas to a bowl using tongs and scoop out the seeds, reserving them. Return the fruit—seeds, pulp and all—back to the pot. Cook for about 20 more minutes on medium-low, until it has reduced by about half or to desired thickness.
Remove from heat, strain, and return guava halves only to the syrup. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
Originally published for PK4 Media.