If you are of the Jewish persuasion like me, I wish you a Shana Tova! If you are not familiar with this tradition, it is Hebrew for Happy New Year, because tonight begins Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, and the beginning of the period known as the High Holy Days (a series of holidays involving reflecting on the past year, atoning for sins, celebrating the autumnal harvest, and frankly, a LOT of time spent sitting in the synagogue). I grew up spending endless hours in these rituals, though as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved away from the religious aspect of Judaism, preferring instead the cultural pieces of Jewish identity, history, language, and of course, the food. The traditional foods of Rosh Hashanah are apples and honey, which symbolize the wish for a sweet new year. For this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, we are making something not-at-all-baked, but nevertheless delicious: Orange Pancakes with Honey Butter from Baked Occasions. I have celebrated many a Rosh Hashanah in my life, and I have to be honest… nary a pancake was to be found. Nor is orange particularly related to the holiday, but hey—citrus is associated with Sukkot, one of the other upcoming High Holy Days, so I guess that’s close enough?? Really, you should go make yourself a honey cake like this one. But in the meantime, these pancakes are scrumptious!
There is a little honey in the butter topping that you’ll whip up. Simply toss your softened butter and honey in a bowl and beat them together until creamy. I did this with a hand mixer and it took about 30 seconds (not sure why the recipe says 4 minutes).
As most pancake batters are, this batter is very easy to make, though there are a number of ingredients to prep, including juicing and zesting oranges (remember to strain the pulp out of the OJ). It takes a little planning ahead because the Greek yogurt must be strained. This was my only point of confusion with this recipe—the ingredient list calls for “plain full-fat Greek yogurt, strained”, which can mean a couple of different things. There are some Greek yogurts that are labeled as “strained”, such as Fage, while others don’t specify; however I thought that Greek yogurt is, by definition, already strained. Therefore, does one need to purchase a brand labeled as strained, or does one need to strain it again anyway? As it turned out, I couldn’t find a full-fat one marked as “strained”, so I decided to strain it myself. This then opens up the quandary of how long to strain and whether one needs cheesecloth. I let it drain through a very fine-mesh sieve for 2 hours without cheesecloth, and it was fine. There was a bit of whey drained off, but not much actually, which leads me to believe that it’s not necessary to strain it.
Once these ingredients are prepared, you’ll whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt) and the wet in another (orange juice, yogurt, buttermilk, butter, eggs, sugar, orange zest). I also added ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract because I couldn’t help myself. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir everything together gently until it’s combined, and you’re ready to go!
I’m a pretty lousy pancake cook, to be honest. My flipping technique is awkward, and I don’t seem to have a good grasp of the right amount of heat to yield perfectly golden pancakes. I think a cast-iron griddle would work best, which I don’t own. (Also, I found that ¼ cup batter yielded prettier, rounder pancakes than the suggested ⅓ cup.) Fortunately, after the requisite first ugly batch, they were decent enough, except for a few burnt spots. But don’t worry, I ate those mistakes right up! 😉
My pancakes were not as tall as I expected based on what the recipe said, but they were not lacking in fluffiness, especially when stacked 6 high! I love that you can see flecks of orange zest throughout the pancakes, and the orange flavor was bright and zingy.
The honey butter was delicious in that cultured butter is objectively superior to American-style sweet cream butter, but I couldn’t taste the honey at all (which I was kinda okay with because I’m not crazy about it in its raw form). The book recommends not drowning these pancakes in syrup so that the orange flavor can shine through– I fully support this. I did, however, top them with something amazing that I serendipitously stumbled upon the other day… Cookie Butter Cream Cheese from Trader Joe’s! Yes, that’s right– speculoos (with crumbs!) whirled into whipped cream cheese. It is divine against the orange pancakes.
I wouldn’t necessarily make these to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, but I would certainly love if someone would make them for me every Sunday and serve them for breakfast in bed! Oh, I’ll take some scrambled eggs on the side while this magical person is at it… 😉 But since that’s not likely to happen in the forseeable future, I’ll have to make them myself now and then. Incidentally, I would welcome them as a breakfast-for-dinner option too. Visit Baked Sunday Mornings for the recipe for Orange Pancakes with Honey Butter, and see how the other bakers liked these!
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2015.