- Prep time 1 hour
- Cook time 25 minutes
- makes 1 large pancake, serves 2
I disagree with stacked pancakes. They are juvenile nonsense for several logical (if not strictly scientific) reasons.
Reason Number 1: Gravity. All can agree that fluffiness is the goal in pancakes. To achieve that, we use flour with the lowest possible protein content, we add buttermilk and baking powder to the batter to create air, and we fold the batter as gently as we would comb a baby’s hair. We do all that just so, at the end, the pancakes can be stacked and compressed to death by the sheer weight of one fucker sitting on top of another? Frankly, it’s mind-boggling.
Reason Number 2: Texture. Typical pancakes are underachieving in textural contrast to begin with. But to make matters worse, we further nullify whatever sad crispiness a pancake has going on at the edges by laminating them while they are still hot, and thus steaming them cheek to cheek like human sardines at a sticky, overcrowded rave party? Just saying, it’s very perplexing.
Reason Number 3: Practicality. Let’s do some simple math. Each batch of batter produces about twelve to thirteen pancakes, and each pancake takes about six or seven minutes to cook. Let’s just say that you can cook two pancakes at a time—who gets a hard-on at the thought of flipping pancakes for forty-five minutes in the morning just so you can sit down, finally, with two hot pancakes and ten cold ones? Squished to death, textureless, cold pancakes. Sure, keep them warm in a preheated oven, like that’s a turn-on.
Stacked pancakes don’t make sense.
What makes sense, in my reasoning, is a single-flip, stand-alone pancake that is tall and lofty with incredibly soft and airy crumbs throughout, but more important, suited in an entirely crusty, seriously golden-brown cake jacket that emits erotic sounds when cracked open by gentle force. Better yet, it takes only thirteen minutes in its glorious entirety.
You’re welcomed, if not implored, to test this baby with your favorite fruit marmalade and fancy European butter. But here, to push our expedition further into the textural frontier, I’m pairing it with clusters of cold, sweet blueberries encased in a hardened web of shattering caramel, then drizzled with a dark, tangy, and floral balsamic and honey syrup. Hot and cold, crispy and soft, juicy and syrupy.
Pancakes don’t deserve this. But you do.
NOTE: Do not use pre-frozen blueberries that might have been semi-defrosted during storage and are therefore watery and contain lots of frost. The excess liquid will dilute the caramel and turn it into syrup.
Recipe excerpted with permission from The Art of Escapism Cooking: A Survival Story, with Intensely Good Flavors by Mandy Lee, published by William Morrow Cookbooks. © 2019 by Mandy Lee. Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers. —Mandy @ Lady and pups
- Balsamic Honey and Blueberries:
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons honey
Scant 1 cup (125 grams) fresh (not frozen) blueberries (see Note)
1/3 cup (52 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
- Crackling Pancake:
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (195 milliliters) buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick | 54 grams) unsalted melted butter, for cooking
- Make the balsamic honey: In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the vinegar until it’s reduced by half. Turn off the heat. Fold in the brown sugar and salt until fully melted, then mix in the honey until smooth. The balsamic honey can be made a couple of days ahead of time and stored at room temperature.
- Make the blueberries: Wash and gently pat the blueberries dry, then put them into a zip-top bag with a paper towel and flash-freeze them for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until frozen. This can be done the night before.
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl gently but do not stir, letting the sugar cook until fully melted with a deep amber-caramel color.
- Now turn off the heat and add the frozen blueberries all at once. Immediately fold them into the caramel with a large spoon, only for a few seconds, then gently dump everything onto a plate. The caramel will be hardened by the cold blueberries, holding everything in a messy cluster. Transfer the plate to the freezer until needed.
- Make the crackling pancake: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a measuring cup, mix the buttermilk, oil, and egg until smooth. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, then stir gently together with a large fork until a thick batter forms. Small lumps are totally okay.
- This recipe is just perfect for an 8- or 9-inch (20- to 23-cm) cast-iron or deep nonstick skillet. Anything too small or too big will result in a pancake that is too thick or too thin and changes in cooking time. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat until bubbly. Pour the batter into the skillet and evenly distribute it around the skillet with a spatula. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the skillet with a lid. I prefer a glass one so I can see what’s going on inside, but any lid will do. Now let it cook for 8 minutes without peeking. We need the steam to be trapped inside the skillet in order for the pancake to cook through. After 8 minutes, check to see if the edges and the bottom are deeply caramelized, forming a golden brown, crusty surface. If not, continue to cook with the lid on for another couple of minutes. Flip the pancake with a wide spatula, then pour the remaining melted butter around the edges. Gently lift the edges and tilt the skillet to let the butter run underneath the pancake, then cook with the lid off for 5 minutes, or until the second side is golden brown as well.
- Serve the pancake with caramel-clustered blueberries straight out of the freezer. Drizzle the balsamic honey syrup over the top and eat immediately.