Saturday, February 8, 2014

Puffy Oven Pancake

I love breakfast. Any time of day or night, I will be overjoyed to be eating some form of breakfast foodstuffs.

(This does not include Grape Nuts. If I wanted a bowl full of rocks, I'd go get a... wait a minute. I simply do not ever want to eat a bowl full of rocks... period.)

One other breakfast item that I have some trouble with is pancakes. I love them, I really do, but I always feel like a friggin' heifer whenever I finish a plate full of the doughy gut bombs. Sure, I've tried making silver dollar pancakes. Unfortunately, as my food gets smaller and cuter, my willpower drops exponentially.

It should come as no surprise that when I saw Ina Garten on tv making these fluffy alternatives, I just had to try them out. (Literally, when the episode was over I went straight to the kitchen and made one for myself.)

But before I jump right into this, there is one small thing I'd like to share. I keep, in my refrigerator, a zesting lemon.
This is why I almost never use any other citrus zest in a recipe if I can get away with it. Once I have suitably used up the majority of the zest on this bad boy, I'll most likely scour the internet for an easy lemon pudding or something.

Also, I do not currently have a microplane (shame, shame shame.) Any time anything needs to be grated, I just mince the hell out of it. What I do have, luckily, is a really nice old-school vegetable peeler.
This is why I almost never measure the amount of zest that I use. One strip generally suits my needs just fine.

Lastly, television cooking personalities always say to just use the zest (in this case, the yellow) and not the pith (the white). Well, lookie here...
And I wasn't even trying. My vegetable peeler zested the hell out of that lemon. I could have done it with my friggin' eyes closed.

And so ends of my "crap-I-don't-have-a-microplane-screw-it-I'm-not-running-to-the-store-for-that" zesting tutorial for the day.

Puffy Oven Pancake
Adapted (well, pretty much just scaled down) from Ina Garten's Tri-Berry Oven Pancakes

It should be noted that I have messed around with this recipe a lot. I've made a peanut butter version, a coffee version, etc...  While every one of them has been delicious, this basic one is still by far my favorite.

1 egg
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp milk (in this example, I used 1% milk. I have used 1%, whole or a mix of 1% and half and half. They all work. Hell, I wouldn't be against using heavy cream if you have it on hand.)
1/3 tsp vanilla extract (yeah, just put a splash in)
1/3 tsp lemon zest (see note above on actual zest measurements)
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp flour (all purpose)
2/3 tbsp melted butter plus 1 tsp butter for the pan

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla.
Oh yeah, add in that lemon zest too, while you're at it.
Put a pat of butter (1/3 tbsp = 1 tsp) in a small oven-proof skillet or whatever you're gonna cook this in and pop it into the oven for 5 minutes (or until the butter is melted and foamy, apparently Ina's only takes 2 minutes.)  (At this point, I also melt the 2/3 tbsp of butter in the microwave)
While that's heating up, add the flour to your batter mixture.
Beat that well until it is essentially lump free. (Feel free to turn this sentence into the joke of your choice in the comments section below)
Pour in your melted butter (the butter from the microwave, dipshit, not the butter that's melting in the pan.) Mix that together to make the batter nice and rich.
By now, your pan should be ready to go, so pull it out of the oven, swirl the butter around to cover the bottom and pour in the batter.  Notice how the batter settles into place and is given a nice cozy butter hug.
Pop the pan back into the oven for 14 minutes. (If you have kids, turn on the oven light and have them sit in front to watch it cook. It's fun... okay, I don't have kids but I still like to watch it grooooow.) By the end of those 14 short minutes, you'll be pulling this out of the oven.
Now, remember that butter hug? This is the reason why we love cast iron. A small amount of fat turns cast iron into a wonderful non-stick pan. I used two fingers to grab the rim of this pancake, lift it out, and set it on a plate.

See that? Cleanup is a snap! A delicious, delicious snap!

Top these however you like.  Ina fills the center with fresh berries. I generally just heat up some maple syrup in the same dish in which I melted the butter and pour it all over the pancake. 

For the peanut butter version, I replaced the lemon zest and vanilla with a scant tablespoon of peanut butter and topped the pancake with a grape jelly syrup (1 tbsp grape jelly plus 2 tbsp water heated until syrupy).

For the coffee version, I replaced the vanilla with a teaspoon of very strong leftover coffee (I didn't have any vanilla at the time, but I did have the remains of that morning's coffee) and topped the pancake with a big dollop of whipped cream.

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