Last night I left the office just after 8pm and walked back to my hotel in the dark. I appreciate that the sun sets a bit earlier here than it does in London but still, it’s a sad day when you realise that summer is nearly over (that said, it is supposed to be 33C/91F today in Jersey City. I am, however, still wearing tights).
This summer has been a strange one. I feel like I’ve spent so much time travelling, both with work and with holidays, that I’ve hardly been aware of it passing. There still seems to be so much that I want to do this summer – we’ve only had dinner on our balcony once all year! – and yet I’m rapidly running out of time. What’s that John Lennon lyric? Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
I don’t really have much to cause to complain though; I’ve managed to fit in a whole lot of adventure into the last couple of months and I’ve eaten more ice cream than I ever thought was possible. It may not have been the summer I planned but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t made the most of every moment (apart from maybe last night when I skipped drinks and dinner with the team to watch three episodes of Chopped and eat room service but I personally think that was a pretty great way to spend the evening).
Since I got my waffle iron last year, I have been a loyal member of team waffle and have probably neglected the humble pancake. In truth, I’ve never had much success at making them and throwing a spoonful of batter into a waffle iron just seems so much more idiot-proof than faffing around with a frying pan and trying to flip things.
I am aware, however, that not everyone has a waffle iron and that, loathe as I am to admit it, sometimes waffles are just not the most practical solution. Enter the pancake. All you need is a mixing bowl, a frying pan and a source of heat and you are mere minutes away from a satisfying breakfast/lunch/afternoon snack/dinner/whatever. After some experimentation, I finally got the balance right between the keeping-you-fullness of the hearty and wholesome ingredients (buckwheat flour, yoghurt etc) and the fluffiness that I want from a pancake to come up with what is now my own go-to recipe for whenever the pancake urge strikes.
I’ve also found that these pancakes freeze well which is no doubt one of the reasons that I end up eating them at strange times of the day. I tend to make a large batch, freeze the pancakes in a layer on a baking tray and then parcel them up individually. When I want a speedy pancake, I just put the oven on and pop a couple in for 10 minutes or so until they’ve defrosted and serve with whatever I have on hand (e.g. fresh fruit and yoghurt). They also lend themselves to the inclusion of chocolate chips but, really, what doesn’t?
This recipe has now become my go-to pancake recipe. The buckwheat flour and yoghurt give a suitable heft but without comprimising on the fluffiness which is so desired in a pancake. For chocolate chip pancakes, I like to throw in a small handful of chocolate chips as the first side of the pancake is cooking and try to push them in a little so that they get covered by the batter. Otherwise you risk slightly burning the chocolate and that is always sad.
- A knob of unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 firm peaches, stoned and sliced
- 190g (1 1/2 cups) buckwheat flour
- 1 tablespoon corn flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 120ml (1/2 cup) plain yoghurt
- 240ml (1 cup) milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled plus extra for cooking
- Plain yoghurt and flaked almonds, for serving
- I usually like to make the peaches first because there's only so much I can do at the same time. Heat the butter, sugar and ginger in a small frying pan over a medium-low heat, when the sugar has melted, add the sliced peaches and cook for a couple of minutes until softened. Set aside until needed (I keep them in the pan so I can heat them up quickly).
- To make the pancakes, whisk together the buckwheat flour, corn flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, milk, egg and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and lightly whisk together until just combined; don't worry if it looks a little lumpy. You want a pourable/dollapable consistency but quite thick; depending on what type of yoghurt you use, you may need to add a splash more milk or flour. Set aside for 10 minutes or so and put the oven on low (unless you're going to serve the pancakes straight from the pan).
- To cook the pancakes, heat a knob of butter in a pan over a medium heat and dollop in 3 ladles of pancake - I usually make three at once. Cook for a couple of minutes until they start to bubble and flip over to cook the other side for a minute or so. When cooked on both sides, place in the oven to keep warm until you're ready to serve. When you're ready to eat, heat the peaches through and serve over the pancakes. Top with yoghurt and flaked almonds.