Some may say that there is a certain element of sadness in a single stack of pancakes. Breakfast, or at least the Sunday variety, is often accompanied by endless chatter or in fact none at all – solitude shared with another as you pour over different sections of the paper. Brunch appears to be an exceptionally social meal, filled with ‘how do you like your bacon?’, ‘shall I push down the plunger on the cafetière?’ and ‘can you pass the magazine section over once you’re done please?’ So to offer up a dish that is single serve for one of the nicest meals of the weekend bar a beautiful roast, it seems a rather odd choice.
I am however finding that I enjoy stolen moments of solitude more and more these days. My weeks are punctuated with the usual calamity of a newsroom, which to those in the know, will understand is a place where one simply cannot work in silence. You tune out the noise and just press on. But in these small pockets of quietness, when all I can hear is the slow rumble of the boiler, the kettle snapping to life and the turn of the page in the latest novel I’m reading, I appreciate every morsel of silence. Even as I type this, the only sounds one can hear are some birds chirping outside my window and the squeaky tapping of the laptop keys. It’s rather nice to just enjoy the silence.
I imagine there are others out there who live alone or often cook for one, and thought a single serving of pancakes would appeal. Instead of offering the usual stack, dripping with viscous maple syrup and bacon so crisp it shatters, I thought I’d take a rather fresh approach, adding a caramelised depth to the pancakes by stirring in a touch of brown sugar and some sweet spices for added warmth. To counteract the mellowness of the dish, bright jewels of pomegranate, raspberry and blueberry litter the stack like sweet and sharp punctuation notes. But the real star I must admit is the strawberry vanilla sauce, a sort of hodge-podge quick jam that will make you long for the pick-your-own season. Strawberry and vanilla work so well together and just bring this vivid pancake stack to life with a jammy sweetness to round it off. Cosy up on the sofa, read a book and keep the kettle on rotation and enjoy those quiet moments to yourself. When this stack appears in front of you after your efforts, you will be glad there is no-one around to steal a bite.
You Will Need
100g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
A pinch nutmeg
125ml semi skimmed milk
For the fruit salad
1/3 pomegranate, seeds removed
1 handful raspberries, halved
1 handful blueberries
For the Strawberry Vanilla Sauce
65g strawberries, hulled and chopped
15g caster sugar
¼ tsp vanilla paste
2 tbsp water
Mint sprigs, to serve
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices then crack the egg into the dry mix. Using a hand held electric whisk, incorporate the egg then slowly add the milk bit by bit until you have a smooth batter that is dropping consistency. Set aside. Combine the fruits in a bowl and also set aside.
For the Strawberry Vanilla Sauce, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and place over a medium heat. As the sauce begins to bubble, compress with a masher to create a thick consistency and continue cooking over a medium heat until slightly jammy yet still pourable. Once finished, pour into a small ramekin. Reheat if required.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter to grease the pan, wiping down with kitchen roll to avoid excess greasiness. Using a ladle, pour a scant ladleful into the pan and cook until bubbles appear across the pancake. Flip using a fish slice and cook for a further minute before removing to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter until you have three to four pancakes. Stack on a plate and top with the berries. Pour over the sauce and serve with lashings of coffee.