The Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix Experiment: Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

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Bananas were never one of my favourite fruits when I was little.  I preferred other fruits like apples and melons, but because I developed some nasty allergies to a bunch of fruits during my teens, I was forced to reevaluate my fruit diet and I’m really glad I did.   I nosh on fruit like it’s going out of style and I take advantage of its versatility by using them in yogurt, dried fruit and granola mixes, and of course, cooking.  Over the past several years I’ve been finding myself reaching for a banana much more often, especially as part of my breakfast.  And I love baking and cooking with bananas too!  Awhile ago, I made a post and showed you all some French toast I had cooked up and just this past weekend, I had pancakes!  

My mum had bought a box of Aunt Jemima’s Buttermilk pancake mix and at first, I was skeptical.  When she told me, I scoffed and thought, “pancake mix in a box?  Ugh, we could make our pancakes from scratch, mum, why??”  So I went into our Aunt Jemima pancake experiment not really knowing what to expect.  Were they going to be dry?  Hard?  I hoped not because I really wanted pancakes and I was looking forward to mashing my bananas with my potato masher.  Call me selfish.

The directions were simple: for every 1 cup of pancake mix, add 3/4 of water.  Simple!  No eggs, no additional ingredients.  Just plain water.  The pancake mix itself contains wheat flour, corn flour, buttermilk powder, and dried egg yolk.  1 cup of pancake mix was said to yield around 6 to 7 pancakes 10 cm (or 4 inches) in diameter per pancake, but hey, we were feeding 4 people for breakfast and wanted bigger pancakes, so we doubled the amount to 2 cups of pancake mix and 1 1/2 cups of water.  It worked just fine and there was enough for all 4 of us to eat, so mission accomplished! 

We had plenty of bananas, so I sliced and mashed 2 of them, and sliced and reserved a 3rd for fruit topping later.  I added the mashed bananas to the pancake batter and mixed the batter until large lumps disappeared.  When you’re mixing up any kind of pancake batter, be sure not to over mix!  You’ll end up with cardboard hard pancakes and that is not sexy.  We used a soup ladle to ladle the batter into our skillet, which was over a medium-high heat, and added a drizzle of vegetable oil when needed.  When bubbles started to form and the edges crisped and browned, we flipped.  Easy!  And voila!  Banana buttermilk pancakes for breakfast!

How did they taste?  They tasted freakin’ amazing!  SO soft and moist and not “cakey” in the least.  The addition of the bananas made these so flavourful and it was like tasting banana cake without actually eating cake.  They were so yummy and I was really happy that they turned out so well.  Thumbs up on this one, Aunt Jemima! 😀  To jazz up my pancakes, I dusted them with a little powdered sugar, topped them with sliced bananas and fresh strawberries, and drizzled a little bit of honey over top.  Heavenly breakfast!  The pancakes themselves were fab, but the fruit and honey gave it a bit of subtle sweetness and juiciness, so A+ on all counts.  And I’m so, so excited to experiment a little more with pancake toppings and other fruits.  I’m thinking blueberry almond, apricot almond, apple cinnamon, and maybe a tropical themed one too.  Yay pancakes!

     

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Sniff Sniff Hooray! Baking Up a Storm – Almond Orange Cupcakes

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After deciding several days prior that we were going to bake some surprise cupcakes for my grandparents and relatives, my mum and I baked up a storm Saturday morning – 4 dozen cupcakes in less than 2 hours, baby! 😀  After my first cupcake heartbreak and disaster, I was determined to kick some serious butt.  I was in excited conniptions for days, anxiously awaiting to redeem myself – and to just whip out the mixer and measuring cups.  Some famous chefs hate baking.  I love it.  Methodically measuring and sifting and spooning batter is surprisingly soothing and calming.  Not to mention it challenges you – to simultaneously be creative and precise at the same time. 

After a quickie trip to Bulk Barn last Thursday to nab a few extra things, I had everything I needed to whip up 48 cupcakes.  First up on the list: Almond Orange Cupcakes!!  They are so awesome that they deserve capitalization.  I’ll most likely adjust how long they’re in the oven the next time I bake them (I’ll take them out a few minutes earlier, I think), but oh man are these ever AMAZING.  The texture is fantastic with the crunch of almonds and the insides have larger air pockets which make for an airier cupcake.  And the smell of orange zest and toasted almonds is divine, oh my lord.  My brother loved them, my cousin loved them, and my grandma gasped at how fan-freakin’-tastic (my words, not hers, ha!) they smelled when she opened the container we gave her.  I think I redeemed myself just fine with these.  As the Gain laundry detergent commerical says, sniff sniff hooray! 😀

Recipe for Almond Orange Cupcakes

Ingredients (Makes 12)

  • 2 eggs
  • 7 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • grated zest of 1 orange (be careful not to zest the white part of the peel; that part is the pith and will result in bitter cupcakes!)
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons potato flour
  • about 1/3 cup of slivered almonds (you can adjust this amount based on how much almonds you want sprinkled on top of your cupcakes)
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (also known as powdered or icing sugar)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F, then line the cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
  2. Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat for 5-10 minutes until thick and pale (*note: you’ll need to set the mixer speed higher as setting it on low won’t do the job unless you want to stand at the counter for half an hour).  Add the orange zest, then sift the ground almonds and potato flour into the mixture and fold in.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top.  Bake for about 22 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean (*note: I would personally knock a few minutes off to make them even softer).
  4. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly before dusting with confectioners’ sugar.

*****

Recipe taken from Cupcakes by Susannah Blake, 2007.  Photographs taken by me.

Rise and Shine: Banana French Toast

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I may not be the morning person I used to be growing up (I whimper when my alarm goes off at 6am – it should be illegal to have to wake up when it’s still pitch black out, good god) but I loooove breakfast foods.  Runny scrambled eggs, sausage, home fries, waffles, French toast, fruit and granola, yogurt parfaits, smoked salmon and cream cheese…I am all over it like mud on a pig.  And given how I’m hungry only, oh I’d say, a few minutes after I wake up, it is imperative that I eat.  I am not joking.  My stomach makes gurgly noises and will start to eat eatself if I don’t feed the poor thing.  It makes me feel like a high maintenance 2-year-old at times, but I look at it this way: I get an extra delicious meal in before everyone else has even stumbled out of bed.  Yup, Deb has already inhaled a breakfast burrito before you’ve even combed your hair.  I kick butt.

Today’s breakfast: banana French toast!  Now I know there are probably an infinite number of ways to make French toast, but here’s how I do it.  If you’re using medium-sized eggs, you can go by a 3:4 ratio: 3 whipped eggs for every 4 pieces of toast.  We made 8 slices of French toast and used 6 eggs and had a little bit of egg mixture left over, so it works just fine.  After cracking the eggs in a large bowl, I pour a splash of milk in (I use 1% but whatever you have on hand should work) and whip them up with either a pair of chopsticks or a fork, whatever works for you. 

Heat your skillet or frying pan on high heat to get it going.  Drizzle a little vegetable oil when the skillet is hot and lower it medium-high heat.  Maximum-high will burn your eggs and toast, and medium isn’t “sizzling” enough to crisp up the toast; you’ll be left with soggy centres if it’s not hot enough.  Spongy and moist, yes, soggy, no.  Lift up the pan and tilt it around so the oil coats the entire surface.  And then you give your bread an egg bath! 😀  Dunk your bread in the egg mixture (I used whole wheat today) coating both sides.  Slap the bread in the skillet and let it hang out for about a minute so the edges can crisp up and the centres can cook before flipping.  Rinse and repeat for the rest of the batch.  Sift powdered sugar or cinnamon over top and add desired fruit (in my case, sliced bananas) and ta-da! 😀

I’m really excited to try out some new granola, quinoa, and dried fruit recipes, and I have a batch of breakfast photos that I haven’t posted on the blog yet, so look out for those too!  Rise and shine, y’all!