Ahh, pancakes. You can’t beat a perfectly thin crepe doused in lemon and sugar, or a stack of fluffy American style pancakes soaked in maple syrup. It’s one of those foods that bring instant joy before they’re even served. There’s even a guilt-free day dedicated to them, I mean what more of an excuse do we need? And it’s not just kids who get excited at the prospect of flipping pancakes and piling on as many toppings as possible – strawberries, chocolate sauce, caramel, whipped cream – they’ve all been done. In the UK we usually make thin crepes on days like Shrove Tuesday, but in my opinion you can’t beat good homemade American pancakes. They bring reminders of home and happy times. Maybe it’s the nostalgic element of childhood excitement, or the fun and competitiveness making pancakes usually brings to the kitchen that make them such a winner. But let’s be honest, they’re not the healthiest of things.
With all the ‘American diner’ inspired restaurants popping up all over the UK, and especially in my home city of London, it’s not hard to find foodie inspiration or be tempted to eat your way through all the wrong kinds of foods. These sweet potato pancakes are inspired by one of my favourite diners, but with a few adaptations not only to make them healthier, but also taste damn good. I use homemade sweet potato puree that I flavour with browned butter and honey. This alone is divine. I generally avoid dairy milk, so I use sweetened soya milk (almond milk will work too) in the batter and spice things up with cinnamon, vanilla extract and nutmeg. The result? Fluffy, subtly sweet and melt in the mouth pancakes for a sweet or savory meal. The thick honey Greek yoghurt adds a lightness to the dish perfect for a healthy breakfast, perhaps with fresh or stewed fruits, but substitute this for some guacamole (recipe coming soon) and poached eggs and it’s perfect Sunday brunch/lunch deliciousness.
Makes 4 large pancakes | Method: 20 mins | Cooking: 8 – 12 mins
For the sweet potato purée:
- 4 small sweet potatoes
- 2 tbsp honey or agave syrup
- 1 tbsp butter
- A pinch of sea salt
Step one: Peel and chop the sweet potatoes, then boil for 10 minutes in salted water on a medium heat.
Step two: Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small non stick pan for 3 minutes. As the butter cooks it will become brown and nutty in smell and taste. Be careful not to have the heat too high as it will easily burn!
Step three: Once the potatoes are soft, drain and mash with a fork. And the browned butter and honey. Use a wooden spoon and mix well for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. That’s it!
For the pancake batter:
- 260g self raising flour
- 1 cup soya milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or fresh vanilla bean paste
- Sweet potato purée (above)
- 4 tbsp flavourless oil for frying (sunflower or vegetable)
- 1 tbsp honey or agave syrup
- 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
Step one: Heat up a small non stick pan with 1 tbsp of oil. In a heavy bowl or mixer, combine all the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and spices – for a minute until well mixed. Make a well in the centre.
Step two: Add both eggs and the milk. Mix well to form a semi-thin batter.
Step three: Add the purée and mix well until a smooth thick batter is formed.
Step four: Take enough batter to make a large sized pancake and fry one at a time for 2-3 minutes, turning mid-way. Add more oil as you cook the rest.
Step five: To serve, swirl the honey into some Greek yoghurt and pile on top of your pancakes. It’s almost too good to eat.