I suspect that one of the reasons that pancakes are usually kept fairly simple – plain or buttermilk seem to make up the vast majority of pancake recipes – is that pancakes are such a great way of serving maple syrup. It’s easy to save the bulk of the flavor for the syrup. But it is also easy to infuse a little more flavor into basic pancakes and doing so only improves breakfast, making the pancakes a little more interesting.
These pancakes get a little flavor boost from the addition of brown sugar. I used a bit more sugar than I typically would in a pancake recipe to bring it out, so the resulting pancakes are sweet and fluffy, as well as very soft and tender. They really are on the cake-like side of the pancake spectrum, and are all the more delicious for it. Still, the brown sugar flavor is relatively subtle on its own, if you want to take the time to make a batch of regular pancakes (as I did!), it is easy to see how much the flavor really stands out when you compare these to a plainer version.
To enhance the flavor even more, I made up a special syrup to serve these pancakes with. The syrup is a mixture of brown sugar, butter and real maple syrup. It tastes vaguely like pralines, and does a wonderful job of bringing out the brown sugar flavor – as well as the flavor from the butter – in the pancakes. It is best served warm, as the sugar may crystallize if the syrup sits too long at room temperature.
Both the syrup and the pancake recipe can be halved quite easily if you don’t want to make a big batch.
Brown Sugar Pancakes
1/2 cup brown sugar (pref dark.)
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 cups milk, any kind
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt together brown sugar and butter. Stir well, then set aside to cool slightly.
in a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking power and salt. Pour in eggs, milk and vanilla extract, along with brown sugar mixture and stir until well combined. No streaks of dry ingredients should remain.
Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, until a drop of water skitters around when dropped on the surface. Lightly grease with butter or oil, and drop pancake batter by 1/4-cup measures on the pan. Cook until pancake is slightly dry around the edges and small bubbles form in the batter (bottom will be browned). Flip and cook for another minute or so on other side, until bottom is browned.
Serve with Brown Sugar Maple Syrup (below).
Brown Sugar Maple Syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup maple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Serve warm, with brown sugar pancakes. This recipe can be halved if you don’t need quite so much syrup.