Maple Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day! I wanted to celebrate by posting a recipe that I hope you'll enjoy sharing with your loved ones as much I did. While most people might be stressing a little bit trying to plan the perfect fancy dinner, I secretly think breakfast is a little more special. Here's the thing. I'm not a morning person, never have been and probably never will be. If I get up in time to cook you breakfast, I really love you. And who wouldn't win over hearts serving up dessert disguised as pancakes? Go ahead and just take a moment to savor these babies.

I'm talking perfectly tender, fluffy, crispy edged buttermilk pancakes, layered between warm maple strawberry compote and topped with a tangy maple buttermilk whipped cream. This is love. You are going to win with this recipe.

Strawberry pancakes started out as an impromptu treat for Jaden the last time he had a snow day, and as (his) luck would have it, schools were closed again for snow today, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to finalize the recipe. I couldn't have been more pleased with the results this time around. Instead of making a strawberry syrup like I did the first time, I did a compote, which set up thicker and was a more intense strawberry flavor. I also recently came across the idea of a buttermilk whipped cream in my latest favorite cookbook, Smoke & Pickles, so I thought that would work well with this dish since it already featured buttermilk in the pancakes. Sure these might be a little more time consuming than your average pancakes, but why not go all out once in awhile for those special days? If you're the type to plan ahead (I'm not), mix your dry ingredients together and set those aside the night before. You can make the strawberry compote a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate it. It's winter, so use fresh strawberries if you can find good ones at a reasonable price - otherwise, frozen works just fine if you thaw them first. I can't wait to make this again in the summertime when berries are in season though!

Also...speaking of summer, can we just get there soon? Jaden isn't complaining about all these snow days, but after four years in Florida, mama is not a fan!

Maple Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes


For the buttermilk pancakes:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 c. melted butter, cooled
2 1/2 to 3 cups buttermilk, as needed
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp shortening, for frying

For the strawberry compote:
4 c. strawberries, hulled & sliced
1 c. pure maple syrup
Pinch salt

For the maple buttermilk whipped cream*:
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 c. buttermilk, chilled
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp maple syrup

*adapted from Smoke & Pickles, by Chef Edward Lee

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Equipment Needed: Griddle, stand mixer or electric hand mixer, medium to large pot

Shall we talk ingredients for a minute? I've tried what seems like a million variations to my buttermilk pancake recipe, but I think this one is the keeper. It's one of the first times I've liked using whole wheat flour, which I find adds a bit of heartiness to the batter. Your family would never know. If you don't want to use whole wheat, it's probably not an issue using all white flour instead. As far as the white flour goes, I've tested this recipe with both regular flour and my favorite, White Lily, and found that either works. White Lily of course makes for a slightly more tender pancake, but because these are half whole wheat it's not a deal breaker if you don't have any. In much the same way as I did for my buttermilk biscuits recipe, I do highly recommend using full fat buttermilk for the best flavor and consistency. Finally, please use real maple syrup! There is just no comparison to the flavored sugar syrup in the plastic bottles. It's a little bit more expensive, but you'll use much less of it to achieve a nice sweetness.

If you're prepping these pancakes in advance, follow my advice in the introduction above. If you're getting things ready all at the same time, you'll want to get the strawberries going first so the compote has time to reduce while you get everything else together. If you have kids, this is a good time to put them to work! I let Jaden hull and slice up the strawberries. We used a mix of half fresh, half frozen today.

In your pot over medium heat, combine the strawberries and 1 cup of maple syrup. Add a pinch of salt. I like to set a half cup or so of fresh strawberries aside, and will add them back in towards the end. I like to get a few bites of firmer strawberries mixed in with the compote that's cooked down.

Bring the strawberries to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced by about half, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in the fresh strawberries. You can gently reheat the compote later, or serve at room temperature.

To prepare the maple buttermilk whipped cream, combine the chilled heavy whipping cream and buttermilk in your stand mixer (or chilled bowl, if using an electric hand mixer.) Whip on high speed until the mixture thickens up a bit.

Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla, then continue whipping a couple more minutes until soft peaks form. Because of the buttermilk, this will be a softer whipped cream then usual. Chill the whipped cream until needed.

Now...for these perfect buttermilk pancakes. This portion of the recipe is just fine all by itself by the way, so feel free to make it your regular pancake recipe!

Preheat your oven to 250° and preheat your griddle. Start out by whisking together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In your stand mixer or separate bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of the buttermilk, both eggs, and the brown sugar. Beat on high speed for a couple minutes until frothy.

Stream in the melted butter and vanilla, mixing until combined.

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula for this, gently folding the buttermilk mixture into the flour. Don't overmix! The batter will be lumpy and slightly bubbly. Just stop right there and let it sit for 5 minutes or so. I use that time to check my griddle and make sure it's hot enough. The best way to do this is to drop a little water on it. If the water turns into little balls that dance across the griddle, you're good! If the water immediately evaporates into steam, your griddle is too hot. And of course, if the water just sits might want to check if you actually turned the stove on.

When your griddle is ready, add a little shortening to grease it up. I use butter flavored shortening, because butter itself tends to burn too quickly for pancakes. Shortening crisps up the edges perfectly and works well for the high heat. I like to do a test pancake, because invariably the first pancake will suck. It'll be shaped funny or cook too fast, or break in half when you flip it. It's science. So instead of wasting four, I just do one pancake to make sure my pancake batter is the right consistency and the griddle is at the right temperature. I could tell with this one that my batter was too thick (for my preferences), so I gently stirred in the remaining 1/2 cup of buttermilk to loosen it up before continuing.  The pancake itself was delicious though. Jaden hangs out by the kitchen counter like a puppy waiting to be fed, so I let him have the test pancake to hold him over until the rest are done!

Now we're ready. You'll want to let the griddle heat back up and regrease it in between batches for best results. Drop a 1/4 cupful of batter at a time, and wait for those little bubbles to start popping up around the edges after a couple minutes.

Using a large spatula, flip the pancakes over to continue cooking on the other side. Try to work around the griddle and flip in the same order that you poured the batter, so that they all cook evenly. When the pancakes are dry around the sides, they're done cooking, usually just another minute after you flip.

You see those beautiful fluffy rounds of perfection? Mmm...I'm telling you. If they aren't already in love with you, they will be after these pancakes get served.

This recipe will make about 16 small pancakes, and leftovers freeze well. As you finish a batch, transfer to a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil, and let them stay warm in the oven while you prepare the other pancakes. Try to stop your child from snatching them when you aren't looking...

To plate these babies, spoon a little bit of strawberry compote in between pancakes. A stack of 3 or 4 is plenty for the average belly.

Top with a good dollop of that deliciously tangy maple buttermilk whipped cream....

...and dig in. Trust me, you just won breakfast. Happy Valentine's Day!!

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