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Spiced Banana Pancakes

January 25, 2011

I have a confession to make: I don’t like ripe bananas. I only eat them raw when they still have green edges. At that stage, I love them in cereal or just on their own. Once they are legitimately ripe, however, I can’t even stand the smell of them. As you can imagine, timing the purchase and consumption of bananas is a bit of an ordeal in my house.

Especially since bananas in my apartment go overnight from this:

To this. In spite of the spots, inside is actually what most people consider a good banana:

So, what’s a ripeness-phobe to do? The obvious answer is banana bread, but I thought I’d try something a little different this time.

I used the basic pancake recipe from Joy of Cooking, adding some of my own flavorings. One important thing about this recipe: it’s wrong!

Ok, that might be a little strong. Most books, including cookbooks, have typos. Joy of Cooking’s errors can be found here. (At least they have the decency to publish a list.) The book says 1¾ tablespoons of baking powder when it means 1¾ teaspoons. Following the recipe as memorialized in print will give you gross-tasting, if extra-fluffy, pancakes. I guess it’s a lesson in trusting your own instincts, no matter how canonical the cookbook.

First, the basic dry ingredients for pancakes: flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Because of the way too much baking powder, I ultimately tossed this batch and started over.

Once that is sorted out, add in some extra ground spices: cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.

The wet ingredients include melted butter. I usually microwave the butter in the mixing bowl I’m going to use. Sans microwave, I melted it in a pot and removed from the heat for a few minutes to cool. I then beat together the rest of the wet ingredients in the pot: eggs, milk and vanilla.

Whisk together the wet and dry ingredients with a few strokes.

With a wooden spoon, gently stir in a cup of sliced bananas (1 large banana or 1½ small ones), making sure the pieces separate. You could mash them, but I like the chunks.

Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes or so. (Or store the batter in the fridge until you’re ready for pancakes, several hours or overnight.) When you are ready, heat a lightly-buttered skillet until water dropplets sputter on it. Then dollop the batter on, about 1/4 cup per pancake.

Why is the first pancake always weird-looking? This one is better, not perfect, but better. Cook each pancake 2-3 minutes on the first side, flip it, and cook another minute or so.

These are delicious with plain old maple syrup, but if you want to be really decadent, spread a thin layer of Nutella on each pancake. Serve with extra banana slices, and if you’re serving them to me, they’d better be under-ripe.

Spiced Banana Pancakes

Adapted from Basic Pancakes in Joy of Cooking
Makes about 16 4-inch pancakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1¾ teaspoons baking powder (this is important!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of ground nutmeg
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1½ cups milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup banana, sliced into half-moon shapes (1 large banana or 1 1/2 small ones)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
2. In another bowl (or pot), beat together melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla.
3. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a few strokes. (Don’t worry about lumps.)
4. With a wooden spoon, gently mix banana pieces into batter, making sure the pieces don’t stick together. Let mixture stand for 10 minutes, or as long as a day.
5. Preheat a lightly-buttered skillet or griddle on medium-high heat. It’s ready when water droplets sputter on the surface.
6. Pour batter onto skillet, using about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake.
7. Cook each pancake until evenly browned on the bottom (about 3 minutes), flip over and cook for another 2 minutes.
8. Serve with extra banana slices and maple syrup or Nutella.

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