Peach Pancakes

IMG_1244In our house, autumn begins a more leisurely season. As things slow down outside – birds get less competitive, gardens dwindle, the heat breaks — we tend to slow down too! While a typical summer weekend morning is a tad hurried and usually involves at least one version of an itinerary, autumn is usually the harbinger of serenity and calm – two things that usually inspire me to make full, homemade breakfasts on the weekend!

With a pantry and freezer full of the goodness of the height of summer and the distant memories of spring, there’s a lot to choose from – enough to make one feel like an artist with a fancy palette. In my case, however – since I’ve never been much of a painter – I think of myself as more of a matchmaker.

Standing at the entry to the cupboard I envision the humble and lonely pancake – longing for excitement and meaning in his life, someone to inspire him to do greater things. I step over to the freezer or the pantry and the first thing that catches my eye is the jewel-toned, shapely peach – all packed away into bags and jars, sealing in that sultry summery goodness that can’t help but brighten any recipe. “These two,” I say, “These two belong together! They need each other… and I’m hungry!”

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And so it happened, back in 2006, that Mr. Pancake and Ms. Peach chanced to meet and eventually discovered their mutual destiny. But, it wasn’t love at first sight! It started with a basic recipe that I found on an internet search. The recipe blended chunks of peaches into fairly ordinary pancake batter. The recipe was nice, but didn’t quite break the ice between Mr. Pancake and Ms. Peach. Sure, it got them together, but there just wasn’t any chemistry.

“What you two need is a few things in common – something to talk about to get the fire started,” I said.

As it turned out, we discovered that both Mr. Pancake and Ms. Peach had a fondness for cinnamon. That got me to thinking, “What if – instead of plain old pancake syrup – we create a sort of peachy syrup to go on top of the pancakes? And what if we add just a touch of cinnamon to both the pancakes and the syrup? Vanilla? Why not, you saucy fellow?!”

IMG_1257Before I knew it, love had blossomed. Ms. Peach simmered down into pure, wholesome loveliness with a little bit of pure maple syrup and a kiss of cinnamon. Mr. Pancake got all spiced up with chunks of peaches, the nutty goodness of whole wheat flour, and cinnamon. Then, surrounded by an intimate gathering of bacon, scrambled eggs, and other beloved witnesses – all assembled to wish them well — they pledged everlasting love and washed it all down with coffee that was both rich and bold. And they’ve been together ever since – making beautiful music at the breakfast table in almost any season!

For this recipe, you can use either canned or frozen peaches — perhaps the only instance I can think of where fresh peaches won’t quite do. If you use frozen, you’ll definitely want to let them thaw completely so that they release their juices and provide you with enough liquid to make the syrup. If you use canned, I definitely recommend that you use the kind that is packed in light syrup so that you don’t get sugar overload! You may need to tinker with the maple-to-peach balance, too, in this instance.

IMG_1256In either case, it is extremely important that you drain the peaches you’ll be chopping up to put into the pancake batter. Don’t squeeze them out like a sponge, by any means, but ideally they should be placed in a small strainer to drain while you put together the dry ingredients. When they’ve stopped dripping, they’re sufficiently drained. If they’re not drained well, the pancakes will be tough and gummy rather than moist and puffy.

If you can find it, always opt for Grade B maple syrup. Grade B is preferred by most cooks because it imparts a deeper, richer maple flavor than the more common Grade A. Personally, I think they should’ve come up with a better name, because Grade B sounds as though it would be less desirable and I have a feeling that it’s one of the reasons a lot of grocery stores don’t carry it. Imagine the throngs of hoity-toity shoppers who would poo-poo the very notion of buying anything that was Grade B, especially if it’s always located right next to Grade A! Never mind those folks. More for the rest of us, I say!

Peach Pancakes
A Tales of Thyme & Place Original
Serves 4

    Pancakes:
    1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    3 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 large egg, beaten
    1 1/2 cups 1% low fat milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1 cup peaches, chopped (frozen or canned, drained)

    Peach Syrup:
    3 cups peaches, sliced (frozen or canned, undrained)
    1/4 cup maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon water
    2 teaspoons corn starch

    In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla; pour into the flour mixture, adding the melted butter and stirring until combined. Fold in the chopped peaches. Allow mixture to sit for approximately 5 minutes.

    Meanwhile, to make syrup, combine the sliced peaches, maple syrup, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until butter melts and mixture simmers lightly. In a small cup, combine the water and corn starch; add to the peach mixture, stirring until thickened to desired consistency.

    Drop the pancake batter onto preheated skillet or griddle by 1/4 cups. Serve hot with peach syrup, toasted pecans, and an additional sprinkle of cinnamon.

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If you’re like me, you need a strategy when it comes to getting a full, hot breakfast on the table. When we make pancakes, I usually place a large sheet pan in the oven and turn the oven to its lowest setting. As the pancakes are cooked, I place them in small stacks on the sheet pan and the oven keeps them toasty and fresh while the rest of the batch is made. This is also a good way to keep bacon or sausage warm — even the plates! When it’s time to serve, I grab the sheet pan, someone else grabs the syrup, someone else grabs the garnishes and we march around the table assembling breakfast quickly while its still hot.

A match made in heaven, served up warm with fruity goodness, these pancakes are a perfect start to a fall weekend or whenever you need a reminder of summer.

(The stunning picture of morning glories on our balcony was taken by James, recently. As many have experienced with Morning Glories in the past, these were not planted but simply appeared as descendants of last year’s balcony garden.)

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~ by Jason on September 9, 2010.

2 Responses to “Peach Pancakes”

  1. I was thinking about making peach waffles this weekend, but perhaps I’ll do pancakes instead. Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time justifying breaking into the peaches we canned. I am trying to save them for winter! Such a dilemma!

    • I know that feeling all too well. Fortunately, I had the luxury of making these pancakes using the remaining 2-lb bag of LAST YEAR’s peaches that was on top in our freezer.

      I’m thinking I’m probably going to wind up having that dilemma with several things we’ve canned, this year. However, having received a challenge from one of James’ co-workers “…you’re never going to use all of that food,” I’m eager to start popping those cans open and cooking up a small storm, this winter, just to prove them wrong. (also to prove to James that I’m not turning into some kind of crazed, food hoarder type person) My goal: to RUN OUT… but hopefully not too soon before spring. 😀

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