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Alternative pancakes…

As the breakfast space continues to grow in popularity, so too does the widespread consumption of pancakes. Although the never-ending batch of skimpy dinner plate sized pancakes, enjoyed on Shrove Tuesday have fallen out of favour in recent years, the American ‘stack’ is embedding itself as a cornerstone of the weekend brekkie, or more accurately ‘brunch’ here in the UK.
It’s not all butter and maple syrup though. This iconic dish arguably offers the chef more potential in the AM menu line-up. An easy chance to work in seasonal produce and keep the menu item changing and evolving. However, these days hot brunch spots need to keep things fresh and offer more than just a simple avocado toast and plain stack of pancakes. With or without the influx of todays diet choices such as rejecting gluten or dairy, a wide swathe of the dining public are interested in alternative versions of comforting favourites.
Buckwheat flour is a classic example, used in many recipes for gluten free pancakes, the flour actually lends a distinct nuttiness to your fluffy breakfast order and partners insanely well with blueberries. From London’s highly lauded outposts of Ottolenghi, to LA’s brunch spot du jour Squirl, chickpea flour is being used in a Middle Eastern style pancake known as socca – a savoury number that most often gets saddled with vegetables, cheeses and gentle spices. Chuck a fried egg on top and you’re onto something filling, fragrant and massively eye-catching on the menu.
But it’s worth remembering how incredibly easy on the kitchen dishes like this are. Batter and doughs can be prepared way in advance and brought to order in a matter of minutes.
Dutch pancakes are steadily gaining some momentum right now, both in New York and London. It would be confusing to draw comparisons between a solid Yorkshire pudding and a Dutch pancake, but be that as it may, the two share most of their culinary makeup. Dutch pancakes most often carry sugar in the batter as well as butter and are baked in the oven, but in butter, as opposed to dripping as used for our favoured Yorkies.
But loaded with fresh fruit and dusted in icing sugar, this brunch item is getting a hefty bit of attention. Stepping up the savoury aspect of pancakes is also a way to strike out, offering more than just roasted meat and gravy alongside some Yorkshires. Using the savoury batter and incorporating vegetables like squash, courgette, spinach and broccoli all make robust, yet light lunch items. While some riffs on savoury pancakes have gone on to include crispy Peking duck, cucumber and plum sauce.
Thought should go towards the Sri Lankan and south Indian dosa, a fermented rice pancake that’s made paper thin and served with curried meats and sambals. The Sri Lankan hopper, which we have spoken about on here before, have been an enduring trend over the past 12 months and are made from the same batter, but cooked in a wok so that a bowl shape is formed, with a fried egg at its centre, the hopper is used as a serving bowl and vessel for other foods, kind of like the south Indian version of a taco.
Whether you’re going out for new flavours, a good menu rotator, or simply looking for something your breakfast crew can knock out without screwing up, pancakes offer huge potential, and amazing time saving in the kitchen.


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