Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Breakfast Pancakes with Tart Currant Compote

A strongly as my exploits suggest otherwise, I actually live a relatively healthy life. For you see, I believe that if you enjoy an active lifestyle, supported by a relatively virtuous and mindful diet then when the time comes to indulge, you can do so without shame. In fact more than that, you may rejoice and luxuriate in the sybaritic splendour of cakes, pastries and sweet treats.

As we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day and although my regular preference is mainly fruit and toast based, now and again I just cannot resist something altogether more naughty. Warm and soft, with a buttery almost biscuity crust these pancakes are a spectacular alternative to the regular choices on offer in the morning. They are also simple to prepare and surprisingly versatile. Although I'm serving them here with a lip-smackingly tart black and redcurrant compote, you can use golden or maple syrup, melted chocolate, fruit, ice cream or even savoury options like bacon or sausages. Maybe not altogether though!

Prep time: 10 Minutes (Compote), 15 Minutes (Pancakes)
Baking (Well, cooking) time: 15 Minutes (Compote), 5 Minutes per batch (Pancakes)

For the compote
400g Mixed Fresh Redcurrants and Blackcurrants
450g Golden Caster Sugar
0-1tbsp Cold Water

For the pancakes
225g Plain Flour
2tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1tbsp Golden Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
275g Milk
50g Unsalted Butter (Melted and cooled)
A knob of Butter (for frying)

The compote itself can be made well in advance as it will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks. The trick with it is to be gentle throughout all stages of its preparation. You don't want to break up or scorch the fruit so be as delicate as you can. Also, the amount of sugar you add will depend on both the tartness of the fruit and your preference. It is certainly worth tasting the mixture as you go to judge if it requires more sugar. Just be aware that it will be near molten towards the later stages!

Begin by gently mixing together the fruit and sugar in a large saucepan, then place on a low heat. After 5-10 minutes the sugar should begin to dissolve and the fruit should release a little of its juice, so at this stage just bring the heat up very slightly. You can stir occasionally, but try to avoid this as much as possible in the early stages. If the fruit looks like it will catch on the base of the pan you can add a tablespoon of water to lubricate things. As the fruit mixtures comes to the boil the fruit will begin to burst and the juice will thicken. This means the compote is ready, so you can now pour into an airtight jar and leave to cool.

For the pancakes themselves, there are many methods to create the batter and all have their merits. Mine is all about simplicity, as I feel somewhat fragile in the mornings, even at the best of times. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar. Add the eggs, milk and butter, then whisk vigorously until the mixture becomes smooth and velvety. Place a large flat frying pan or pancake pan on a medium heat and add the butter. Resist the urge to turn the heat up too high, or you will scorch the butter making it bitter. Once the butter has melted ladle or pour some of the mixture into the pan. You should be able to fit 3 or 4 pancakes in at a time. Leave them cooking in the butter for a few minutes until the surface begins to bubble. This is sign that they are ready to flip, so turn each over and leave to cook for a further 1 minute on the other side. When you are happy they are cooked, remove from the pan, cover with a sheet of foil and repeat for the rest of the mixture. I've found the mixture to make at least 12 pancakes.

To serve, stack a few pancakes and spoon over the compote, or whatever other accompaniments you have prepared. On the rare occasions that any pancakes remain you can leave them to cool and wrap up, then warm through in a hot oven for a minute or two later in the day. They are as good as a dessert as they are as a breakfast!

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