Bread Pudding Pancakes for Pancake Tuesdays

Tuesdays were special days in my house. Growing up, one of my grandmothers lived with us, and she would always be awake when I crawled out of bed at the crack of dawn. The rest of the house was fairly quiet at 6:30am, but she would always be downstairs at the kitchen table, sitting peacefully. Somehow, some way, Tuesdays came to be slightly different. Instead of eggs or Fruit Loops or the occasional french toast, on Tuesdays, there were pancakes. For the first 18 years of my life, virtually without fail, I ate pancakes for breakfast on Tuesday. They were always Aunt Jemima, though they came in various shapes and sizes - sometimes they were shaped like Mickey Mouse heads, other times they were dinosaurs, and sometimes they were just plain circles. They always had a little butter smeared over them and a near half-gallon of Aunt Jemima Syrup poured on top. They swam in store bought sweetness, and Tuesdays were the best days of the week.

Since I started college, Pancake Tuesdays have started to become antiquated, a thing of my past that only now and then makes a reappearance. It wasn't a conscious decision. I didn't stop liking pancakes or even stop eating them as I delved further into nutrition. When I was living in the dorms, I ate breakfast in my room, meaning I ate breakfast bars, fruit, yogurt, or cereal. Sometimes I would heat up some oatmeal in my microwave. I never went to the dining hall, and by the time I got my own place last year I was so out of the habit of taking the time in the morning to prepare and cook the batter (not that it takes a long time), it just didn't happen. 

I miss Pancake Tuesdays. I might even start them back up again (though with an 8am summer class and another 8am Tuesday/Thursday class in the fall, they may need to be lunch or dinner pancakes). But until I make that leap back into my childhood traditions, I can at least share with you a recipe for pancakes on a Tuesday, even if I made them and enjoyed them on a Wednesday night for dinner before I came home for the summer.

These are not your average pancakes - they are worlds away from the Aunt Jemima mix. You see, these are bread pudding pancakes. Yes, as in you use stale bread to make these bad boys, which makes them just about the most filling comfort-food pancakes you could possibly think up. These are the monster trucks of the pancake world, but only in the best of ways, because they are also fantastically delicious. My only complaint, which is hardly a complaint at all, is that halved I should've gotten about 3-4 pancakes, and instead I got 5 absolutely enormous ones that were so thick the centers didn't fully cook. I should have made them into smaller circles and then exercised some self restraint by saving some for later. I mean, two of these suckers could probably fill you up, and I proudly packed away all 5. And then couldn't think about food for the next few hours. The recipe listed below is the halved recipe, adjusted to serve 2 people.

I made some changes to the original, including sneaking just a teensy bit of my banana liquor into the batter (shh!), and I will definitely keep this recipe in mind the next time I have some old bread that needs some creative attention. The best thing about these pancakes is that although they are wonderful with more traditional sweet accompaniments (I personally layered them with warm cinnamon applesauce), I can imagine them being irresistible with savory additions - vegetables, pesto, cheese. Because they're heftier than a regular pancake, they can take the intensity. They can support these fuller, savory ingredients. Just, you know, leave out the banana liquor if you're going this route.

Bread Pudding Pancakes, adapted from Dinner with Julie
Yield: 2 servings

The Ingredients
2 cups torn, stale bread
cinnamon, to taste
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/3 cup (heaping) white whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon (scant) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 secret splash banana liquor, optional

The Method
Toss the torn bread with the cinnamon to coat, and top with the milk, liquor and vanilla. Allow the mixture to stand, stirring occasionally, for approximately 15 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed the majority of the liquid.

Mix the eggs and oil together in a small dish before adding them into the bread mixture. Meanwhile, in a separate small-medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and then add the dry ingredients to the bread mixture, stirring until just combined.

Grease a preheated skillet or pancake griddle (I used nonstick spray) and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Ladle 3-4 tablespoons batter onto the pan per pancake, flattening a little with a spatula.  Cover the pan and allow to cook for several minutes, flipping when the bottom has turned golden and the top looks dry and slightly bubbly around the edges. Cover once more and cook until the pancake has cooked all the way through. Repeat with the remaining batter. You may keep the cooked pancakes warm by covering them with foil and holding them in a 250 degree oven.

Serve with fruit compotes, syrup, roasted vegetables - or just eat them as they are, which is equally tasty!

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