Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pancakes: two ingredients

This recipe has been making the rounds of the Internet, enjoyed by those who are gluten-free, paleo, and/or interested in trying unusual things.

It's one of the easiest things you'll ever make from scratch. All you need are 2 bananas and 4 eggs. If you feel you want to add a little poof to the final product, throw in 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.

I could stop right there, but I'll add a few tips to save you having to figure it out yourself.

First, it's best to have very ripe bananas, the brown ones that you might use for banana bread. I've used kinda green ones, but the riper they are the less lumps you'll have. Not that the lumps cause any problem at all -- indeed, they disappear during cooking -- but they can turn brown while waiting to be cooked.

Speaking of lumps, a hand-held mixer or even a blender is the best tool for these. The bananas are slimy, the eggs are slimy, and believe me, an electric appliance will easily blend these to perfection.

The batter will be thin, but don't worry. Magic happens in the pan.

I used a 1/4-cup scoop to measure each pancake, placing the batter in a nonstick skillet. I also used a bit of oil to crisp up the edges. I like crisp edges to my pancakes.

Don't wait for bubbles to appear as you do with regular pancakes. These will simply sit there looking frothy. I learned to wait for the edges to get not only crispy but dark brown before turning. The pancake in the photo is ready to turn.

These are very delicate pancakes, which is why I recommend a nonstick surface. Before turning, I carefully scoot the spatula around the edges to make sure the pancake is sliding on the surface and not sticking. Then I scoop it up and turn. This might take practise, but even the wrecks are tasty.

Now the difference between using baking powder and leaving it out is somewhat significant. Either way you'll get a very delicious treat.

Without baking powder, the pancakes are dense. If you've made Polish pancakes -- these go by several names, but are basically 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, and 1 egg -- you'll have a good idea of the texture. I'd call it eggy. In this case, the banana flavor comes through strongly, and they'll be quite sweet. No syrup needed.

With baking powder, the pancakes rise up (see top photo). They have the texture of regular pancakes and even taste like them. You can kind of distinguish the banana if you concentrate, but the chemical transformation is truly amazing. I call these fluffy.

One warning: since bananas do turn brown, after about 15 minutes the banana bits in the batter will start darkening. Of course this only looks bad before you cook the batter since the pancakes will be an appetizing color when they leave the pan.

This is truly a remarkable recipe, one that is good to know when it is -20 (as it was here in south-central Montana for a week recently) and you just don't want to go to the store for flour.

To sum up:

Two-ingredient Pancakes

2 ripe bananas
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Pour into nonstick skillet (1/4-cup scoop recommended). Cook till brown on both sides.

Top with butter, honey, or syrup, or eat as is.

Makes about 10 4-inch pancakes.