I always need a few extra days off on top of the obligatory national Christmas holiday. In the weeks leading up to Christmas the steadily worsening weather and rising panic about presents, traveling and quite frankly money, means that once the big day finally arrives and passes in a haze of booze and food, there is a guilty sense of relief.
Don’t get me wrong I adore Christmas. The pagans got it right with the Winter Solstice celebrating the shortest day and longest night - it only gets better from here on and we have the extra mince pie padding to deal with the January chills. I’m not forgetting the baby Jesus. Or Santa Claus. Everyone has a place in my book, but mainly I worship tinsel. Glorious, glittery, shiny tinsel. My living room is a shrine.
One of the main luxuries with time off is the lie-in and the lazy celebration breakfast. Smoked salmon and the fry-up have their place but my American food obsession makes me choose a stack of pancakes. Not super-thin crepes with lemon and sugar but thick, fluffy, vanilla monsters dredged in maple syrup. They make me feel like I’m in a film.
Whenever I want a classic American recipe I turn to the uber blogger, The Pioneer Woman, a bonafide all-American housewife living on a working cattle ranch in Oklahoma. I halved her recipe and added an unconventional dollop of Greek yoghurt helped to counter the sweetness.
Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pancakes - serves 2 generously
1 ½ cups plus 1 table spoon of plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 table spoon caster sugar
1 ½ table spoon baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter plus extra for frying
Maple syrup or golden syrup to serve
Greek yoghurt or cream
1) Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar and baking powder) in a large bowl
2) Mix all the wet ingredients separately (milk, egg, vanilla extract)
3) Add the wet to the dry, taking care not to over mix – lumps are good!
4) Melt the 2 tablespoons butter (I defrost in microwave for 30 seconds) then carefully stir into the batter.
5) You have 2 choices:
a) Frying pancakes in batches, leaving cooked ones to keep warm in a very low oven (80 degrees Celsius) on a plate.
b) Using a humongous non-stick pan or 2 non-stick pans and doing all at once.
6) Either way: heat non-stick pan with a bit of butter on a low to medium plate and spoon a large serving spoon size dollop. I got about 6 large pancakes from this recipe.
7) Wait till a few bubbles form on the surface (I waited slightly too long, which is why the edges are a little dark) then flip and leave for another couple of minutes.
8) Stack on a plate with a pat of butter between each one, a drizzle of syrup and bit of yoghurt or cream.