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Amanda De Jager Friedman: Stone fruit complements this breakfast staple

Pancakes, hotcakes, flapjacks, griddlecakes -- whatever you might call them, chances are you love 'em!

Cafes and brunch joints across the country tout exquisite pancakes of all kinds: chocolate peanut butter, banana nut, caramel apple, I've even had bacon pancakes! There must be a demand, because the pancake varieties and modifications have been flowing like melted butter, especially in recent years.

Wacky restaurant breakfast menus aside, the average family's tendency to flip flapjacks at home on the weekend is common as pulp in orange juice. It makes sense, of course, with all the easy-to-make mixes, simple preparation and ample opportunity for customizing! Pancakes also happen to be one of the few things you can just about bet even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy. After all, they are basically a vehicle for butter and syrup -- how could you go wrong?

My brother was recently raving about a breakfast experience during which he'd enjoyed oatmeal pancakes. I had actually never tried oatmeal pancakes, as I consider myself to be a pancake purist. I'm old school, as they say.

Buttermilk, maybe blueberry now and then, but that's where I draw the line in the syrup.

However, as he continued to describe the flavors of this certain pancake, I was enticed. "It's like a giant, warm oatmeal cookie." I was ready to fire up the griddle and whip out my trusty spatula!

The recipe I finally settled on makes a dense, slightly tangy, hearty pancake. It's not as sweet as a typical pancake, which makes it the perfect host for delightfully juicy stone fruit, which is conveniently in season in local orchards. Shasky's fruit stand at the Merced Certified Farmers Market has an amazing selection of stone fruit, and you won't believe your taste buds when you take the first bite. So delicious, it's almost romantic!

While the directions here are simple, it is important to soak the oatmeal overnight. I tried doing it last minute, and it's just not the same. A little advanced preparation will be worth it.

Recipe: Oatmeal pancakes with stone fruit and blackberries

2 cups oatmeal (quick oats or old fashioned, not instant)

3 cups buttermilk

Mix oatmeal and buttermilk. Allow to soak overnight.

3 eggs

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup flour

11/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups sliced stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots)

1 pint fresh blackberries

Butter, for greasing griddle pan and for serving

Syrup -- real maple is best!

Crack eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Beat the eggs with a wire whisk until smooth. Whisk in the honey, then add the oil.

Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) together in a small bowl. Sprinkle dry ingredients over egg mixture, and whisk together until there are no lumps.

Add buttermilk-soaked oatmeal to batter, and mix with a metal spoon until fully incorporated.

Heat a griddle pan to medium-low heat, making sure that pan is fully heated.

Use plenty of butter to grease the pan, or the pancakes will become too dark.

Ladle pancake batter on generously buttered griddle, making each pancake no bigger than 5-6 inches. Use bottom of ladle to spread evenly, if necessary.

Cook until the edges are starting to appear slightly dry, and bubbles are coming up through the center. This will take longer than standard pancakes, due to the density provided by the oatmeal. Allow at least 4 minutes. Keeping the heat on medium low will prevent burning.

Flip carefully using a metal spatula, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove to a platter, and drizzle with melted butter.

Serve with stone fruit, blackberries, and syrup. Oh, and a glass of milk!

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