Josh’s Mom & Dad travel south from Wisconsin this time of year. Since they’re retired, they drive at a leisurely pace. You’ve probably been stuck behind them at some point. Josh apologizes.
Because they stop and overnight whenever they feel like it, we get emails for, like, a week that read like this:
“Reached North Carolina today. Getting warmer!”
Which is a pretty cruddy email to get when our view outside looks like this:
We decided this morning that if we can’t be somewhere warm, we can at least pretend to be. So we went through our pantry and fridge and decided to use up anything tropical-ish. Pretty much all we came up with was half a bag of sweetened coconut, some coconut milk, and orange juice. But when life gives you coconuts, you make coconut buttermilk pancakes. Or at least we do:
That’ll beat the crap outta some winter doldrums, huh?
The formal recipe is below, but here’s the blow by blow:
First…get the oven going. 350F. We’ve got to toast the coconut. Spread it on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
While the oven’s preheating, start making the orange syrup. It needs to simmer awhile. Add your sugar, orange juice and almond extract to a saute pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer. It will need to simmer until reduced by half – probably about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, kiddo. You don’t want to scorch it and make everyone else wake up thinking the house is burning down.
While the syrup is simmering, put the coconut in the oven. Since this is sweetened coconut, you need to keep a close eye on it. The sugar can burn. After the first 4 minutes, check it every minute, and swirl it around a little in the pan (it browns at edges of pan first.) After about six minutes it’ll look like this:
Take it out. It’ll go from tan to black really quickly.
Let’s get the batter going.
First, put all the dry ingredients, plus 3/4 of the toasted coconut, and the lemon zest in a medium bowl. (Reserve 1/4 of the coconut for garnish.)
Then toss it all around, making sure ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Now let’s move on to the wet stuff.
Combine together the eggs, buttermilk, coconut milk, almond extract. See that piece of eggshell that fell in there? Tip: the easiest way to remove a piece of floating eggshell is with the shell of the egg it came from. We don’t know why it works. It just does. Try it. Just scoop it up. It’s much much more effective than your finger or a spoon.
…The melted butter goes in with the rest of the liquid ingredients. We usually melt our butter on the same griddle that we’ll later be using to cook with. This saves a dirty dish. Which as you know, is one of our primary goals in cooking. Plus it greases the griddle. (Melt on low heat, though.)
Once melted (but not too hot,) pour butter into the wet mixture and mix quickly. Remember to turn griddle way down so any remaining butter doesn’t burn. Keep the griddle barely warm on a teeny little flame though, cuz you’re gonna use it shortly.
Then add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, in thirds. Stir well with wooden spoon between additions.
Get it well-mixed. The consistency should be just barely pourable. Stir in more milk, or coconut milk, if needed, to thin.
Check the syrup. Reduced by half yet? Take it off the heat. No? Keep it simmering. Heat your griddle up again, slowly. You want it just hot enough that a flick of water will sizzle on it, but not so hot the the remaining butter on it begins spitting or burning.
Pour! Those! Pancakes! Oh wait wait wait….the FDA has issued scientific studies that prove that the first couple of pancakes cooked in each batch WILL BE RUINED. (We don’t really know if that’s true. But we dare anyone to refute it.) It’s always good to pour 2 or three small pancakes on different areas of your griddle to check for too-hot-spots, and overall temperature issues. If these virgin cakes somehow miraculously turn out well, call them special “Kiddie-Kakes,”and give them to the nearest child. If they burn, call the dog.
When is your cake ready to flip? Our short answer: When they can be. There’s no precise method of judging, but some time after bubbles first appear on the exposed surface, and before they start to smoke. Basically, if you can get your spatula under and lift them without the top of the batter running all over the edges, go ahead and flip. You can always flip-back later if they’re too light. This one is just begging to be flipped…
These first ones will have a little crispier surface because of the butter on the griddle. We like that.
Oh hey…have you checked on your syrup? Ours is ready. Once reduced by half, remove from heat and add your cold butter and orange zest. Stir, and pour into a pitcher to place on table.
Another Beekman Rule…pancake breakfasts are one of the few times that everyone doesn’t need to be served before eating. We don’t subscribe to the school of placing finished pancakes in a warm oven until there are enough for everyone. That makes them rubbery, no matter how short the duration.
Instead, just as the aroma of the first perfectly cooked pancakes fill the kitchen, ask for volunteers to do the breakfast dishes. The first respondent gets the first cakes. No questions asked. Come up with other chore requests to determine the serving order for the rest of your table.
Top these pancakes with a sprinkling of the remaining toasted coconut. Oh, and these tropical pancakes must be served with a maraschino cherry.
So take this, beach-sitting Jackie and Dave:
Mmmm. Wouldn’t you trade that sand between your toes for these orangey-coconutty-buttery warm sunshine circles?
We wouldn’t either.
Send us some oranges, please.
These Coconut Buttermilk Pancakes with Orange Syrup are great for snowy mornings (when you wish it wasn’t.)
Ingredients (2 pancakes with syrup)
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, Toasted
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon dried ginger
2 teaspoons nutmeg
Zest of one lemon
5 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled.
1 ½ cups buttermilk [or 1 cups yogurt (not greek) + ½ cup whole milk]
1 cup coconut milk (If you don’t have coconut milk, you may substitute whole milk.)
1 teaspoon almond extract (may substitute vanilla.)
3 cups fresh orange juice
½ cup granulated sugar
zest of one orange
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon almond extract (may substitute vanilla.)
- Prep Time: 20m
- Cook Time: 20m
- Total Time: 40m
- Calories: approx 315
Preheat oven to 350F.
Prepare syrup first to allow simmering time:
Combine orange juice and sugar in medium pan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, while preparing pancakes, until reduced by half. When reduced, remove from heat, add butter, zest, and almond extract. Stir to combine.
Spread coconut flakes evenly on parchment lined baking sheet and place in oven. Check every two minutes. Stir if edges brown quicker than center. Remove once browned. Approximately five minutes.
Combine flour, sugar, powder, soda, ginger, nutmeg medium bowl. Stir to evenly mix. Add ¾ of the toasted coconut (reserve remaining,) and lemon zest. stir to evenly combine.
Combine eggs, buttermilk, coconut milk, melted butter and almond extract in medium bowl. Whisk together well.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, in three batches, stirring thoroughly between each addition. Batter should be barely pourable. If too thick, thin with additional milk.
Heat non-stick (or greased) griddle to medium temperature. Pour five inch circles of batter onto griddle. Once bubbles appear on surface, flip. Cook until both sides are light brown.
Serve immediately, garnished with reserved toasted coconut, and orange syrup.