My buttermilk pancakes with caramelised apples, peach, cardamom and lime
Sometime in my catering life, after making quite literally thousands of pancakes, I stumbled upon the notion of pouring the batter from a jug for ease, rather than from a ladle. It takes only a short while to develop the muscle memory required to consistently get the quantities right and beats my having to prescribe the perfect size spoon. For me, that's a deep, antique silver serving spoon. It's the equivalent of 1 1/2 standard tablespoon measure. If you go down that route, you'll be able to make 8 - 10 little pancakes per person.
Using a blini pan, easy to find and pretty inexpensive, is another simple way to portion control the batter and you’ll get the perfect - and bigger - size every time. Just fill two thirds full.
Remember that these are the American style pancakes, smaller than a crêpe, thicker but light and fluffy.
The peach is obviously a seasonal addition but adds the most amazing fragrance. In the summer months, you could completely replace the apples with peaches, or mango but they will need far less cooking time, so add them in to the caramelised butter and sugar for only the last 5 minutes.
I use a piece of scrunched up kitchen paper that I lightly dip in oil, to wipe the pan between pancakes. Others use a pastry brush but I’ve seen too many of them go by the wayside, as the bristles sizzle on contact with the hot pan.
Serves 6 - 8
(Makes 16 American style Pancakes)
For the pancakes
250g plain flour
a pinch of salt
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
80g caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
500 ml buttermilk
For the caramelised apples
150g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
5 large apples – Pink Ladies,
peeled, cored and sliced into 16
1 peach, stone removed, skin left on, sliced into about 8, optional
4 cardamom pods, seeds only
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
200ml Greek Yoghurt
50g Pecan Nuts, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 120C
Start by making the caramelised apples which you can warm through before serving, if you need to.
For the apples, put the sugar and butter in a large frying pan and cook over a medium heat until pale gold, about 10 minutes.
Add the apple slices – splutter and sizzle is all part of the fun – and cook until they are tender, almost translucent and coated in a rich, dark golden caramelised sauce. On a medium heat, this will take a good 30 minutes.
To make the pancakes, sift the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir in the caster sugar.
Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then stir into the buttermilk.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture.
Mix well by bringing the wet ingredients into the dry, a little at a time, until smooth and lump free.
Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl, until they form stiff peaks, then slide them out of the bowl with a rubber spatula and gently fold them into the pancake mixture.
Use a medium pancake or frying pan, oil the surface and make sure it is very hot, smoking in fact before adding the pancake mixture, one serving spoon(1 1/2 tbs) at a time. Leave it undisturbed till bubbles appear on the surface – about 1 minute, your cue to turn them over and fry on the other side. Do turn down the heat if they are cooking too fast, browning before the centres are cooked.
The pancakes should be golden brown, cooked all the way through but still light and fluffy. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and place in the warm oven, adding to the pile every so often while you cook the remaining pancakes.
Have warmed plates at the ready and place 3 large or 8 – 10 mini pancakes on each. Top with generously with caramelised apples, a swirl of caramel sauce and repeat, finishing with apples, a dollop of Greek yoghurt, a little lime zest and chopped toasted pecan nuts on top.
Serve any extra caramel sauce on the side.
Eat at once.