I must apologize in advance if this post is short on words. It's just been one of those days. You know, one of those days where you're perpetually late for everything, get stuck at literally every single red light at every single intersection possible, and basically start off with too much to do and absolutely no hours in which to do it all. Yeah, it's been one of those Mondays, and the rest of the week isn't looking much more promising.... *sigh*
Yet, it's nice to come to this space and write about pancakes. Because pancakes conjure up images of leisurely weekend mornings, when one can just kick back with a bottomless cup of milky black tea, a stack of magazines or newspapers or a long-put-off novel, and breeeeeaaaatttthe. These chai pancakes with black tea-poached plums are a spiced-up incarnation of one of my favorite type of pancakes: those with poached fruit. There's just something about the combination of sweet, fork-tender poached fruit and fluffy pancakes that I love as a robust yet light way to start off a carefree day.
I've been really into spices lately, favoring chai teas and Mexican or spicy hot chocolates as my drinks of choice to nurse for caffeine. I think that part of it has to do with the threat of the upcoming chills of autumn, despite the fact that the weather here has been wavering schizophrenically between humid summer heat and overcast, day-long fog. That and, as I sit late into the night reading, studying, or writing, having that little kick of spice definitely helps get me through. Thus, these spices that I've been craving, translated into pancake form, with just-tender-enough, melt-in-your-mouth poached plums, were a perfect breakfast for the weekend. Now, if only that had meant a leisurely week ahead...
Read on for recipe...
Chai pancakes with tea-poached plums
makes ~12-15 silver dollar pancakes
for spice-infused milk:
1 cup milk
2 tspn ground ginger
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tspn freshly ground nutmeg
2 star anise
2 tspn cloves
2 tspn cardamom pods
1 tspn black peppercorns
1. In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine the milk, ground ginger, cinnamon sticks, ground nutmeg, and star anise.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, roughly crush the cloves, cardamom pods, and black peppercorns. Add to the milk.
3. Over medium high heat, bring the milk to a simmer, cover with lid, remove from heat, and let steep and cool, about 10 minutes. Strain.
for black tea-poached plums:
6-10 firm medium-sized plums
3 Tbspn Darjeeling tea
3 cups water
1 vanilla bean, split, optional
1. Cut the plums in half and remove the seeds. If you would like to remove the skins, lightly score the plum skin to make them easier to remove after poaching. (I'm lazy, so I left my skins on with no ill effect.)
2. In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine the tea leaves, vanilla bean, and water and bring to a boil with the lid on.
3. Poach the plums in the tea for 3-5 minutes until fork-tender, then remove from the poaching liquid.
8 oz. spice-infused milk
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 tspn vanilla
8 oz. AP flour
2 Tbspn sugar
2 tspn baking powder
1 tspn salt
1. Combine spice-infused milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.
2. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix until smooth. Batter should be thick and fluffy, but if it is too thick and difficult to stir, thin it with a tiny dash of milk.
3. Oil lightly a medium hot skillet. Cook the pancakes slowly over medium heat, making sure that your skillet is always well-greased.
4. Serve pancakes with poached plums.