Today is Eve’s Daddy’s birthday (and also my Daddy’s birthday). It’s snowy where we are, so it was certainly a pancake breakfast kind of morning.
Now, I like to make breakfast for people, I really do. But a few pancake mornings ago I realized how wasteful the entire process of making individual pancakes can be. Consider:
- You waste heat warming up an empty pan and warming the oven to keep the ‘cakes at temperature as you make them;
- You waste batter when you inevitably burn or fail to flip the first ‘cake, and when you get big dribbles on the counter while pouring batter into the pan;
- You waste tons of butter/ oil/ cooking spray making multiple batches, even with a non-stick pan;
- You waste lots of time wiping down your counter and cooking surfaces, which are splattered with grease;
- You waste family togetherness time dishing up individual servings of pancakes that are gobbled down before everyone’s been served, and yours, as the server, are liable to be cold and rubbery.
So I spurn thee, individual cakes. I now make my pancakes as a single puffy mound of goodness. For this I use The Skillet.
The Skillet is a beat-up green 11″ cast-iron pan I bought in the early months of our marriage. Its original wooden handle cracked while I was baking cornbread in it, but my father-in-law turned me up a new one of rock-hard bog-wood that, having been preserved in a peat bog for a few dozen centuries, will probably go on well into the 2030s.
The Skillet naturally has many culinary uses, being my favorite pan for both searing steaks and sauteeing asparagus. You can imagine further possibilities for it, however: the Skillet would make an excellent hand-to-hand combat weapon, being capable of acting both as a blunt force instrument and a shield. You could also go sledding on it in a pinch, provided the Skillet was cold and you’d greased the bottom. Bang a spoon against it and voila, you can scare off bears or summon your people to the supper table (or both). String it properly and you might even be able to make a sort of lute or banjo. The Skillet would go with me to a desert island.
Anyway. The pancake. This pancake is free of grains and can easily be made free from dairy. Recipe is:
- 1¾ cups almond flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda/ bicarb
- ¼ teaspoon salt (or just a tiny pinch if using salted butter)
- ¼ cup milk (or buttermilk, or almond milk, or coconut milk)
- 3 eggs, divided into whites and yolks, room temperature
- 2 TBSP sparkling water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Equipment: Ovenproof skillet (cast-iron preferred, bog-wood optional) large bowl, 2 small bowls.
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400° F. While it preheats, place your skillet in there and let your 3 TBSP butter melt inside it. Once fully melted, tip and tilt the skillet to coat the inside with butter, and pour the remainder into one of your small bowls to cool a bit (you should have about 2 TBSP left). Return the greased skillet to the oven to get good and hot.
2. In your large bowl, combine the egg yolks, vanilla, and maple syrup, reserving the egg whites in the second small bowl. Then carefully add the melted butter to this mixture, making sure it’s not so hot that you cook the eggs.
3. Add the almond flour, baking soda, and salt ingredients to the large bowl and mix until just moistened.
4. Put the sparkling water into the bowl of egg whites and whisk until you have a fluffy, foamy mixture (use an immersion blender or hand mixer if necessary– this takes three solid minutes by hand).
5. Fold the egg white mixture into the large bowl gently until you have a uniform batter.
6. Get the hot pan onto the countertop and scrape the batter into it. It should sizzle as it hits the pan. Use a spatula to spread your batter to the edges if necessary.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking every so often to rotate the pan if one side seems to be cooking faster than the other. Clean your bowls and countertop while it bakes, and set the table. When finished, the cake should be a uniform golden brown, and the tip of a knife poked into the pancake should come out clean.
8. Cut into wedges and serve immediately, with more syrup and butter.
It’s very possible to dress this basic recipe up more with things like cinnamon, citrus juice and zest, slices of fruit or berries, and chopped chocolate or nuts. Play with it.
N.B.: if you are vegan, and using a flaxseed egg substitute, you can simply add the sparkling water in with the other wet ingredients and skip the extra bit of whisking.
Update: Here are a few other versions of almond flour pancakes that I looked at when developing this one.
See if you find one that works best for you.