Coffee Meringue Pillow Pancakes

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In other words, a twist on the main star of CRUMBS, hoho. Time and time again, at least once every week or every other week, this is the baby that holds its name straight, waving the ‘pillow’ flag high. So high and bright. Receiving a little social media tag from someone who’s tried and loved the recipe I fiddled till perfection almost 2 years ago still tugs at my heart, pulling its strings and sending me into a fuzzy daze for a full 5 seconds. Saturday usually demands an experimental flair, but the past one was in need of a tried and true favourite, albeit with a little twist and flick.

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There’s something so seductive about a mile-high pillow pancake.

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Had some leftover meringue from my previous recipe (do check it out, just scroll a little) and decided none shall go to waste, and permeated my reliable pillow pancakes with that, and some espresso because I was in dire need of coffee and this was another excuse to get another jolt here.

Although the batter resides with the same format as the original, ratios and all, the addition of meringue gently folded in and the dash of coffee makes each pancake belly a little more moist and slightly chewy. I did end up with a slightly more liquid batter, though the retaining of some lumps is still quite crucial for the same extra-high result. The week has been speckled with more dire Trump news and lambasting and Crazy, so settling down to my pan and butter, batter at hand, was all it took to calm a couple rattled nerves.

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Coffee Meringue Pillow Pancakes (makes around 10-11 medium pancakes)

Ingredients (vegan subs included)

190g all-purpose flour

3 tbsp white sugar

generous pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg (sub: 60g vegan egg replacement, or one banana, or make a flax egg by mixing 1 tbsp flax with 2 tbsp water and letting sit for 5 minutes on the counter)

40g unsalted butter (sub: vegan butter such as Earth Balance)

1 tsp vanilla extract

240ml (1 cup) whole milk/ buttermilk; use store-bought or make your own by mixing 230ml whole milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using (sub: almond milk or any other plant milk of choice)

1 tbsp coffee extract or shot of espresso

50g meringue, briefly crushed with a spoon or your hands (find the recipe here near the bottom; you won’t need all of it but hey the more the merrier)

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, crushed meringue and leavening agents). In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in a microwave and set it aside, letting it cool. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla (or insides of a vanilla bean), coffee extract/espresso shot and melted butter. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and mix briefly with a wooden spoon or a normal dinner spoon. Continue to mix until everything is just combined, which means there will still be a few lumps, but no more streaks of flour.

Preheat your pan on medium heat and ready some butter. You know the pan is hot enough when you flick a little water onto its surface and there’s a clear sizzle. At that point, generously butter the pan and ladle tablespoonfuls of batter. I didn’t have to wait for bubbles to pop before flipping; the batter is thicker than usual and there’s no need to wait. Flip the pancakes when you notice the edges stiffening a little, or when you can slide your spatula whole underneath the bottom of the pancake. It will rise a little upon flipping, as if that action gives it life, and hence, breath. The surface should have a brown mosaic thanks to the hot butter. Once the second side is done (will take no more than 20 seconds), let cool on a paper towel. As mentioned above, these freeze wonderfully, so you can make a whole batch, have a small stack and stash the rest in a ziploc bag in the freezer.

Serve with butter and maple syrup, or whatever you want. I particularly like them with banana, its moist sweetness adjoining arms with the maple. What a Sunday.

 

Hotcake For One

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As like every Saturday, I took a route less travelled. That morning was colour and fairytale light and a whimsical plate. The perfect respite welcomed me at Paddy Hills, one of my favourite local hideaways for moreish brunch fare, ambience (and not going to lie, the lighting is always perfect for photographs). The light. Almost as if the window behind me had the slightest blue filter. Why is it that I remember these things and not actual important things like the bus routes back home?

Every time I venture out alone in search of a particular foodthing or breakfast dish (for I’m the sort who wakes up way too early to wait for brunch, though that’s always welcome on the social agenda), I savour every little component that arrives at the table. Food is meditation. Every sit-down is an analysis, a reconnection with the humble plate. A cup of coffee is a bit of serendipity, its acidity meaning more than just caffeine. It precedes the awakening of senses; always a bit of displeasure before every reward. Just like my laboratory internship that started in July– each new theory or paper encountered is an adventure for the senses. Every moment is to be savoured, every experiment a full-on thrusting into the meat of the mind.

Having tried many a hotcake before, I didn’t have particularly high hopes for the one at Paddy Hills, but it’s by far the best one I’ve tried. Golden, crisp edges encased a cake-like, fluffy interior, leaning towards pound cake on the density spectrum. Its perfect texture was proven by the soft drag of my fork’s prongs along the edge, followed by the total lack of resistance as they sank into the domed surface. It was then that I decided I just had to recreate something similar at home, and that’s exactly what the following morning demanded. With the mother’s new stash of gluten-free coconut flour at home, I have also included a gluten-free version for any of you who swing that way for personal health reasons. It took a couple of tries to get as close as possible as I could to what I enjoyed. The original recipe I followed online included the unusual addition of Japanese mayonnaise, which apparently is what the Jap folk use in their sky-high, souffle-like pancakes. Unlike American mayonnaise, the Japanese version is typically made with apple or rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar, and uses egg yolks instead of whole eggs. Perhaps its the chemical structure of the soy vegetable oil they use or the underlying sweetness that lends a hand to the delish result. It did turn out with a desirab;e ratio of texture and flavour, though next time I shall try it without the mayo and look out for the slightest of differences.

It must be taken into account that the size of your pan (mine is about 4.5 inches wide), as well as how close your pan is to the kiss of heat, affect the final result. There’s nothing more gratifying than a big, fat hotcake on your plate.

It was a Sunday morning and the café came to me instead. Here goes.

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Hotcake For One (adapted from this lovely lady)

Ingredients

1/4 cup cake flour

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (substitute with coconut flour for the gluten-free version, but take away 2 tbsp)

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

4 tbsp white sugar

2 tsp Japanese mayonnaise (substitute with American/homemade mayo if you have that on hand)

1 egg white

1/2 cup (180ml) milk or buttermilk

2 tbsp melted butter

splash of vanilla extract

whatever toppings you desire; I chose berries for a berry garden, mascarpone cheese, cashew butter and maple syrup

 

Directions

Preheat your pan on low heat and ready some butter for cooking. Make sure to have at least a healthy knob of butter for each hotcake you make, for this ensures the crispiest golden edges and ease in removing the cake from the pan. In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg white until it becomes white and frothy. Add the milk, vanilla extract, mayonnaise and melted butter. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just combined. Tip the mix, which should have a thick dropping consistency, into your preheated pan and let cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes or when you can see that the edges have hardened and there are small bubbles around the same area, flip the hotcake (carefully) and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove the hotcake and serve with whatever you wish.

 

Chocolate Orange Pillow Pancakes

A little twist goes a long way in adding nuanced distinctions to established flavour profiles. I’ve always loved the classic combination of chocolate and orange, so I thought, why not try it in my all-time favourite fluffy pillow pancake recipe?

I remember finalising the recipe for this more than a year ago, and it still hits all heart strings every time I make them. No longer am I caught in the ugly morning mire of doubt and indecision. I love making new things and experimenting with different simple techniques, but what’s the use of a whole stack of badly-risen or bland pancakes when you know there’s one that’s always got your back?

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Made with real, fresh orange juice, speckled with chopped up bits of dark chocolate. Saturday respite never did look or taste so good. The tang is subtle and almost sophisticated when paired with more grown-up type chocolate.

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Chocolate Orange Pillow Pancakes (makes around 10, adapted from my classic pillow pancake recipe)

Ingredients

190g all-purpose flour

3 tbsp white sugar

generous pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg

50g unsalted butter (slightly less than 4 tbsp)

1 tsp vanilla extract or the insides of half a plump vanilla bean (or a skinny meek one)

120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk/ buttermilk; use store-bought or make your own by mixing 230ml whole milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using).

30g chopped dark chocolate (I used a bar of 70% cocoa content)

120ml (1/2 cup) freshly-squeezed orange juice; about one medium orange

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt and leavening agents). In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in a microwave and set it aside, letting it cool. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, orange juice, vanilla and melted butter. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and mix briefly with a wooden spoon or a normal dinner spoon. Continue to mix until everything is justt combined, which means there will still be a few lumps, but no more streaks of flour. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy.

Preheat your pan on medium heat and ready some butter. You know the pan is hot enough when you flick a little water onto its surface and there’s a clear sizzle. At that point, generously butter the pan and ladle tablespoonfuls of batter. I didn’t have to wait for bubbles to pop before flipping; the batter is thicker than usual and there’s no need to wait. Flip the pancakes when you notice the edges stiffening a little, or when you can slide your spatula whole underneath the bottom of the pancake. It will rise a little upon flipping, as if that action gives it life, and hence, breath. The surface should have a brown mosaic thanks to the hot butter. Once the second side is done (will take no more than 20 seconds), let cool on a paper towel. As mentioned above, these freeze wonderfully, so you can make a whole batch, have a small stack and stash the rest in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Easy!

 

 

 

Oatmeal Date Pancakes

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Straight up, no fuss.

Post-flight mornings warrant simplicity. Being back in Singapore is still very surreal– everything still feels the same, yet somehow different. Anyways. 13-hour flights typically leave me feeling a little bloated, distended, out of sorts. So all I want to come home to is my morning ritual comprising the papers, iced coffee, and a standard bowl of my favourite banana-based oatmeal. Yet somehow this morning I opted out of this bowl ritual in favour of something more texturally interesting. I craved that same fluffy texture, but it needed a robust edge. Heck, just something with edges. It needed fork and knife action.

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Was intrigued by why I favour oatmeal over other breakfast foods some days, or just when I’m especially hungry in the morning. It’s well known that the stuff keeps you feeling fuller for longer, but it’s only recently that I discovered that it has to do with a particular fluid property: viscosity. It’s the viscosity of oatmeal, that sticky, runny texture it has like glycocalyx on epithelial cells, that provides the feeling of satiety. Specifically, it’s the degree of initial viscosity in the mouth and subsequent viscosity in the GI tract that influences the release of appetite hormones. A high initial and subsequent viscosity, apparently best provided with instant oatmeal, will prolong fullness. My current favourite oatmeal is this one. It’s incredibly voluminous, nutritious and chock full of texture.

It’s all almost a bit silly. A good silly. Why would you straight up fry a perfectly good bowl of oatmeal? Oh, the wonders of a little pan action. The frying provides a crisp outside, while the inside remains fluffy and a little chewy, depending on how you cook the oats in the first place. The torn up bits of dates provide a good deal of goo and sweetness in each little pancake. These oatmeal pancakes are the halfway mark for proper versions of either oatmeal or pancakes, and I’m ok with that sometimes.

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Oatmeal Date pancakes (serves 1; makes 4-5 mini pancakes)

Directions

Make one serving of your favourite porridge or old-fashioned oatmeal: In a bowl, mash up half a banana, then add 45-50g (around a half cup) of porridge or old-fashioned oats, half a cup of milk of choice (I adore almond), and half a cup of water. Alternatively, you could use either just milk or water for the liquid bit. Preheat a pan on medium heat and ready some butter. Cook the mixture over the stove or in a microwave until you get the consistency you like. I like to microwave mine for 2 minutes, let stand for 30 seconds, then microwave again for another minute to achieve the perfect, just-under-thick consistency. Take out your oatmeal and stir in a pinch of cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar.

Once cooked, add a knob of butter to the hot pan and let sizzle. The butter should not brown or burn, indicating the right temperature. Ladle spoonfuls of oatmeal onto the pan and use the back of the spoon to flatten into a circle if it’s on the thicker side (as I like mine). Add the bits of date (optional) to the surface of the batter. Let cook for 2 minutes, then slide a spatula underneath to see if it’s done. Flip and let the second side cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove using the spatula and let cool on a paper towel while you cook the rest.

Serve as a stack, topped with peanut butter, more date bits, and maple syrup. I added some homemade raspberry chia jam for some tangy oomph.

 

Double Banana Pillow Pancakes

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Pancakes are easy science. There’s really nothing more to them than mixing your wet with your dry, then plopping spoonfuls into a hot pan. You’re done in a few minutes, happier than the heavens with a drizzle of good maple and all the toppings your heart desires.

Fluffy pillow pancakes made with mashed banana, studded with soft banana coins. 

Your usual dose of weekend fluff, heavily inspired by these babes. I remember really enjoying the addition of mashed banana to the actual batter in this particular recipe, and it’s hard to imagine I made them that long ago. I wanted to recreate that pleasurable experience in a different light– something more straightforward but still just as moreish.

There’s a lot of fun in making a ‘double’ anything. Because that means 2 dimensions. It means depth, intensity. No space or time for something normal. I mean normal can be good, and tradition is bliss sometimes, but a little extra oomph is love and light, too. Adding the banana coins before flipping the pancakes cooks and softens them a little, remodelling your little stack into something with additional texture, a little hint of caramelisation perfusing each bite . Soft banana bits all cosied up in fluff.

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Double Banana Pillow Pancakes (makes 12 medium pancakes)

Follow the recipe for my double chocolate banana pillow pancakes, but leave out the cocoa powder, and have a couple additional bananas on hand to slice into coins. Place 2-3 banana coins onto the batter after ladling the pancake batter into your pan, before flipping to cook the second side.

Highly recommended to eat this with greek yoghurt, chocolate shards, peanut butter, and plenty of maple syrup. This is your morning.