Weekend breakfasts take on a new importance come autumn, don’t they? After rushing through the daily routine for five weekdays, there is no better way to unwind than rolling out of bed on a Saturday morning to a big cup of coffee, some great tunes, a newspaper, and a plate of greasier-than-usual breakfast fare.
Ok, so “rolling out of bed” is not quite accurate if I’m being honest about the Saturday morning routine in my house. The Bean usually shakes me awake at about 6:50 a.m. and drags me grudgingly out of bed (“Mama I’m huuuuuuuugry”) while Kiwi pulls the covers over his head to go back to sleep.
And there is typically no coffee or newspaper waiting for me. Strike that. There is never any coffee or newspaper waiting for me. But thanks to the brilliant folks who invented that whole Nespresso contraption, coffee is never too far off.
Once I’ve got my cappuccino and the Bean is settled with a snack, I turn my mind to the less-than-virtuous Saturday morning fare. Which these days is typically on the carb end of the breakfast spectrum, in part because one of our kids can’t eat eggs in their scrambled, omletted, fried or poached form, in part because nothing makes small people (or any people) happier than a stack of pancakes or waffles drenched in sweet syrup, and mostly because calories don’t count on the weekend. Really they don’t. I’ve long held the view that as long as you eat healthily during the week, you are entitled to eat whatever the heck you want on the weekend. My version of the old “everything in moderation including moderation” thing.
Kiwi will always remind me that even if calories don’t count, fibre does. Because…well, you know. So these Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes are a delicious, indulgent, fibre-filled compromise. They’ve got all the soft, fluffy pancake appeal, but without the gut-blocking, blood-sugar-crashing side effects of traditional pancakes made with all purpose (white) flour. They have the added benefit—for those who care about this—of being completely gluten free, as long as you use certified gluten free oat flour.
When I last posted a shot of these pancakes over on Instagram, I got a few requests for tips on how to make foolproof pancakes. I’m apparently not the only one who has had my share of burnt-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside hotcake flops.
Much of what I’ve learned about great pancake-making comes from this classic Pancake 101 post on the Smitten Kitchen blog, and I would add and/or emphasize a few tips of my own:
- Under-mixing is key, even with gluten-free pancakes like these. When you combine the wet with the dry, stir until the two are just combined. Lumps of flour may remain, but resist the temptation to whisk them into a smooth batter.
- Use buttermilk whenever possible, and “fake” buttermilk (milk soured with a bit of lemon juice or white vinegar) only in a pinch. Real buttermilk makes for a rich and creamy crumb, a good fluffy rise, and a tangy flavour. A tip for those (like me) who inevitably use up only half of the buttermilk carton and end up pouring the rest down the drain weeks later: freeze the leftovers in small zipper bags or ice cube trays and defrost it when you need it.
- A large stove-top griddle is great if you’ve got one, but I’m just as happy with a large cast-iron skillet or stainless steel pan brushed with a little bit of butter between batches. The butter prevents the pancakes from sticking to the pan, but also adds a lovely flavour and browning pattern. Space the pancakes a couple inches apart to give them room to spread and give you room to get a spatula in there to flip them over.
- Start by heating your pan on medium-high heat, and once it is hot turn it right down to low or medium-low. Too much heat will burn the outside of your pancakes before the middles are completely cooked.
- Transfer cooked pancakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet in a warm (200 degree oven). The heat of the oven will help firm up any slightly underdone pancake centres, and will also keep your pancakes warm so that you can sit down and eat them as a family. I am not a fan of standing over a hot stove while everyone digs into breakfast.
- 2 cups oatmeal flour, gluten free if necessary (see note below)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 very ripe banana, mashed
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for the pan
- 1 to 2 cups buttermilk
- Combine the oatmeal flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs, then add the banana, maple syrup and melted butter.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk, starting with 1 cup and adding as much as necessary to create a just-pourable consistency. I usually use about 1½ cups but the exact amount will likely depend on how dense your oatmeal flour is.
- Set the batter aside to sit for 5 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, turn the heat down to medium-low and add about ½ tablespoon of butter.
- When the butter is melted, spoon in the batter by large spoonfuls, spreading it out a bit with the back of your spoon, if necessary. Cook the pancakes until bubbles form on the uncooked side, and then flip them over and cook them on the other side. When they are brown on both sides and cooked through, transfer them to the baking sheet and into the warm oven. If you find that the outsides of the pancakes are burning before the middles are completely cooked, turn the heat down.
These pancakes freezer really well, so I like to make a double batch and freeze half to be eaten during the week. To freeze, wait until the pancakes are completely cooled, then transfer them to a freezer-proof container or Ziploc bag, with parchment paper between each layer of pancakes. Defrost them in the toaster or microwave.