I don't fast. I believe that life is too short for unnecessary self-deprivation; I also have never given anything up for Lent, firstly because I am not remotely religious, secondly, because I am not dangerously addicted to anything; and if I were, I should really be giving it up for life, not for just for Lent. I am however (funnily enough...) more than happy to partake in the feasting that often precedes or follows a fast. Shrove Tuesday, or pancake day, is one of those such occasions that I am willing to revel in. Pancakes, in all of their many forms, are one of the most simple and satisfying foods you can make, and are the best way to create an impressive breakfast or brunch (or dinner!). As much as I love the classic British pancake with lemon and sugar, or a stack of fluffy American ones drizzled with maple syrup, if you want to make an impressive breakfast with minimal amount of effort (no standing at the stove flipping endless pancakes) then it's got to be a Dutch baby. Dutch baby pancakes (originally German pancakes) are ridiculously simple to make, you just put all of the ingredients into a blender and give it a whizz, then pour the batter into a hot, buttered cast iron skillet (or pie dish/cake tin/roasting tray if you don't have a skillet) and bake in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes, that's it! They puff up dramatically in the oven, then fall down again when you take them out; they are fantastic served with a simple dusting of icing sugar, or a drizzle of syrup and some fresh fruit, but I decided to jazz things up a bit by making a spiced chocolate pancake and serving it with caramelised bananas and peanut butter drizzle. Although there are a few elements to make, they are all very quick and simple and the whole thing comes together in under half an hour. The caramelised bananas are out of this world good, cooking them in caramel really brings out the flavour, they are sticky and sweet and work perfectly with the chocolate and hint of spice from the pancake (and oh god the smell as they are cooking is amazing...). The peanut butter drizzle, whilst entirely unnecessary, is utterly delicious, and adds a whole other level of flavour to the dish (what better combination than chocolate, peanut butter and banana?), and it is a simple matter of stirring a couple of things together, plus who doesn't like a bit of drizzle? The whole thing is finished off with a dusting of icing sugar and a pinch of cinnamon to make it look pretty, whoever you make this for is guaranteed to love you forever!
Spiced Chocolate Dutch Baby Pancake With Caramelised Bananas & Peanut Butter Drizzle
- 180 ml (¾ cup) milk
- 4 large eggs
- 80 g (⅔ cup) plain flour
- 30 g (3 tbsp) cocoa powder
- 30 g (2 tbsp + 1 tsp) sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 30 g 2 tbsp butter
- 2 large ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
- 55 g (¼ cup + 1 tsp) caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 15 g (1 tbsp) butter
Peanut Butter Drizzle
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 2 tbsp of milk
- 2 tbsp icing powdered sugar, sifted
- Icing sugar and cinnamon to serve
- Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Place a 26cm/10in cast iron skillet (or pie dish/cake tin) in the oven to heat up.
- Put the milk, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and spices in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add the butter to the hot skillet, return to the oven until the butter is melted and sizzling.
- Pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed up and darkened around the edges.
- Whisk together the peanut butter, milk and icing sugar until it is smooth and thin enough to drizzle; set aside.
- minutes before the pancake is done, prepare the bananas. Place the sugar and water in a medium frying pan or saucepan (make sure it doesn't have a dark coloured bottom or you will struggle to tell when the caramel is ready).
- Heat, swirling the pan occasionally (don't stir) until the sugar has melted and turned a caramel colour.
- Remove from the heat and immediately add the bananas, stir to coat them in the caramel then add the butter. Return the pan to a low heat and cook for a couple of minutes, occasionally giving it a gentle stir, until the butter has melted and the bananas are heated through.
- Top the cooked pancake with the bananas and drizzle over the peanut butter, sprinkle with icing sugar and a pinch of cinnamon to serve.