Early-morning entertaining is something I think about when we have overnight guests, so this past weekend when good friends came for a visit, I took time to plan a spring breakfast. I wanted the meal to be worthy of company but not so complicated that I would miss out on the conversation at the table.
After going through my files, I found a simple recipe for blueberry sauce that I had not looked at for more than 20 years. The sauce could be assembled a day ahead and would be delicious, I thought, ladled over stacks of golden pancakes. Coincidentally, several weeks before, I had made some griddle cakes from a basic recipe, and my husband had mentioned that these pancakes were lighter and fluffier than most. I decided to change this classic recipe -- a combination of flour, eggs, milk, sugar and baking powder -- by replacing some of the milk with lemon juice and adding lemon zest and grated nutmeg to the batter. The new version of lightly lemon-scented pancakes would be more interesting to serve with the warm blueberry sauce.
After trying several variations to adjust the lemon flavorings, I was pleased with the final version and, this past weekend, served the piping-hot griddle cakes napped with the thick, deep-blue-hued sauce to our guests.
Sprinkled with powdered sugar and garnished with fresh mint, the pancakes, with their hint of lemon, were picture-perfect and pleased our friends, who ate with abandon and helped themselves to seconds. A platter of crisp bacon slices, fresh fruit juice and cups of coffee completed our breakfast.
To keep my kitchen work to a minimum, I made the sauce a day ahead and reheated it the next morning. I had the ingredients for the pancakes set out on a tray ready to be quickly mixed together and a skillet for cooking the griddle cakes. As each batch was finished, I transferred them to a baking sheet to keep warm in the oven. My husband took care of the coffee and juice while I quickly popped the bacon into the microwave, and in no time at all we were sitting down to the table with our friends.
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.
Light Lemon Pancakes With Warm Blueberry Sauce
Makes 4 servings
1 cup water
2 / 3 cup granulated sugar
1 / 4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh blueberries, cleaned and stems removed, or 2 cups frozen blueberries, drained and patted dry
1 1/2 cups flour
4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 / 4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1 / 4 cups whole milk
1 / 4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (grated color portion of the peel)
2 tablespoons oil, plus extra for greasing griddle or skillet
powdered sugar, for garnish
4 fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
To prepare sauce, in heavy medium saucepan, combine water, granulated sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch and whisk well until cornstarch is completely dissolved in liquids. Place over medium heat and cook and stir 1 minute. Add blueberries and continue to cook and stir until sauce has thickened and is a rich, deep blue-purple color, about 5 minutes. (If not using immediately, cool, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Reheat over low heat, stirring, when ready to use.) Makes about 2 cups sauce.
When ready to cook pancakes, arrange rack at center position and preheat oven to 250 degrees. Have ready large baking sheet.
In mixing bowl, sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, lemon juice, zest and oil. Add liquids to dry ingredients and whisk just until blended. Batter may still have a few small lumps.
Place griddle or large heavy skillet (nonstick or cast-iron surfaces work well), greased lightly with oil, over medium heat. When hot, ladle generous 1 / 8 cup (2 tablespoons) batter per pancake onto griddle and cook until tops bubble and undersides are golden-brown, 2 minutes or less. Turn and cook until golden-brown on other side, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Transfer cooked pancakes in single layer (don't stack them or they will steam and become flabby) to baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Continue until all batter is used. Makes 22 to 24 (3-inch) pancakes.
To serve, arrange 5 to 6 pancakes overlapping on each of 4 dinner plates. Mound some warm blueberry sauce on top and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Garnish with mint sprig. Serve immediately.