Banana Pecan Pancakes

I went to San Francisco this weekend! I ate. I shopped. I walked. I ate. I walked. I ate. I shopped some more… My wallet came back lighter, my nose came back frecklier, and my calves came back stronger (sweet lord, no one gave me adequate warning about those hills). It was lovely.

It started beautifully on the plane ride, when I was seated next to a buxom elderly lady with a thick Eastern European accent. She spent the first five minutes of our flight jabbing impatiently at the in-flight entertainment system with her thick, crooked fingers; nose to screen, eyes squinted, muttering in what I guessed was Polish. I cheerfully helped her navigate back out of the French pop music radio channel. Then she politely informed me that’s what she had wanted. Oops.

She told me she had lived in Belgium and that’s where she had learned French. I told her I had lived in Belgium and had learned French, too! Instant friendship. The rest of the flight, we gabbed back and forth in our imperfect second languages, rolling our R’s luxuriously and sounding quite glamourous, as we exchanged stories about our lives. She was 85 years old. Had been imprisoned at 19, was a refugee at 21, and later became a professor of sociology teaching in French, her third language. Wowza.

For the duration of our two hour jaunt down the Pacific West coast, she shared her thoughts about sex, gender roles, female fashion and how it has changed women, the family and how it has evolved in her lifetime, rape, divorce, dating etiquette… it was the most interesting conversation I have ever had with a stranger. At the end of the flight, I squeezed past her knees to get out while she waited for her wheelchair. She grabbed my hand and said very sincerely, “I always wonder who I will sit next to on the plane. Today, it was a very good choice”. Looking into her clear blue eyes that sparkled without any suggestion of her age, I felt really touched by this connection. I felt sad that this woman’s body was so much older than her mind. I wished we could be friends and that I could come over for tea and we could talk in French together for many more hours… friendship unfazed by culture, language or age.

And then there are pancakes. Completely unrelated to my lovely friend on the plane, but I felt the need to tell you about both anyway. Well not completely unrelated. I think pancakes and friendship are quite compatible, don’t you?

These breakfast treats are based on the Joy of Cooking basic buttermilk pancake recipe. Perfect pancakes every time, and adaptable to whatever flavours you fancy. You know what is my favourite thing about them? They freeze beautifully! Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen, then pack into freezer bags to store. Pop in the toaster for pancakes on a Tuesday. I guarantee it will be a good day.

Some tips for incredible pancakes?

1. Measure your flour by spooning gently into a measuring cup and then leveling off with a knife. If you just scoop from the flour bag, it will be much more compact, meaning more flour, meaning tougher pancakes.

2. Use buttermilk. If you don’t already buy it, humour me and buy it just this once. You can use up the rest in muffins, cakes, scones, or more pancakes. It creates the most tender texture in baked goods. Try it, you won’t regret it.

3. Use a light hand! Stir ingredients together gently; boys, don’t be busting out your massive muscles to impress your breakfast guests. The more you stir, the more gluten is formed, which is the “muscle” of flour. Desirable in bread, not desirable in pancakes. Too much gluten = tough cakes. Stir only until dry ingredients are moistened.

4. Heat the griddle (or pan), but not too much. Flick some water at the preheated surface – if it jumps and sizzles, the pan is ready. You want to keep the temperature at medium or slightly cooler – to get browning, but to allow the bubbles to form on the surface before the first side gets too dark.

Today’s take home messages? Talk to strangers. Make unexpected friendships. Then make pancakes.

Banana Pecan Pancakes

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking.
Makes about 12 pancakes.

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup banana slices
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Preheat griddle or nonstick pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Pour the buttermilk mixture on top of the dry ingredients and gently stir to combine. Fold in banana slices and pecans.

2. Spoon 1/3 cup of batter per pancake onto hot griddle. Do not overcrowd pan. When bubbles start to form on surface of pancakes, flip them to the other side and cook till golden brown. Keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

  • Tina Francis

    Aww…I love the story of your airplane companion! She sounds lovely…”Nose to screen” that made me laugh out loud. I wish I could speak French, roll my “R’s” and sound glamorous. :) You’re so cool Jenny-boo!

    My mom makes a mean Banana Pecan Pancake. I don’t think she follows a recipe. Pretty sure she wings it. I should ask her to try yours!

    Or better yet…I should learn to cook already! hah!

    • Anonymous

      Option 2 meets my approval ;-) And I’ll come over and help you eat them.

  • Jen Jen

    Can I just add Banana & Pecan in PreMix Pancake from the Box? Hungry Jack R my fav love it…

    • Jim

      If you make pancakes from premix – you should not be reading this blog.


    Your plane ride sounds like a wonderful experience. This recipe sound wonderful also – must try them thsi weekend – thanks

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, mama! Wish I was there to eat them with you…

  • Jennifer Peters

    Your comment about pancakes and friendship made me laugh, as you always get the desire to make pancakes with me despite the fact that I’m not a huge fan. lol Now pancakes makes me miss you :-(

    • Anonymous

      hahaha so true! I miss you too… and our barefoot mornings in your parents’ kitchen that I took over to make pancakes that nobody but me really liked… after long nights of stargazing on the porch until the fear of moose, bear and/or alien attack forced us back inside…

  • Nicole Cormier

    I’ve got a several-days-old banana that’s got “pancake” written all over it…I’m going to assume the flour measurement is actually 1 1/2 cups….a half-cup of flour doesn’t seem enough to make 12 pancakes – typo?

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Nicole!! Indeed a typo!

  • LimeCake

    Pancakes are my absolute weakness! I could have them everyday. Buttermilk pancakes are the only way to go. These look especially delicious!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you :-)

  • Liz

    I loved your story. It touched me. It is quite amazing how, who and why we meet the people that we meet. Life is full of surprises, some good and some not so good, but they happen anyway and we have to take them on and move forward. Thank you for sharing. Sounds like I would have liked to meet her too. I love little old ladies who has a rich history. They have so much to share. I know I will one day when it’s my time too and I hope to meet people who will listen and flourish because of what I told them.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, LIz. I hope someone listens to us when we’re old ladies too :-)

  • remy

    these pankakes where to dry and they didnt seem to cook very well

    • foodess

       If you measure your flour properly by gently spooning it into a cup and leveling off with a knife, they won’t be dry… or you can weigh the flour – 1 cup = 4.5 ounces.  The other reason that could be tough (which may translate as “dry”) is that they were overmixed.  Be gentle when combining wet and dry ingredients, and mix only until just combined.