I first had churros at Alexandra Palace, of all places, while waiting for an Embrace gig. Crispy, sweet, subtly smokey, with a butterscotch-y filling, these awesome, ridged, tubular donuts are amazing, but not the kind of thing you see often in Devon, sadly. Wiki tells me they’re popular in Portugal, Spain, Brazil, France, and often dunked in hot chocolate.
I’ve become a dab-hand at pancakes over the last few years, and specialise in a fluffy, drop-scone derived type that I’ve refined and adjusted to get to the point where I’d call them my speciality. We have them often – probably once a month if not more – for breakfast, and they’re Emma’s favourite thing, especially with maple syrup. I tried traditional British thin pancakes again for Shrove Tuesday this year, and we both felt a bit underwhelmed and disappointed that I hadn’t just made the usual fluffy pancakes.
The other day Emma saw a recipe for ‘Mexican style churro pancakes’, which were flavoured with cinnamon and served with a burnt butter and maple syrup. I have no idea if these are in any way authentically Mexican or not. Frankly, who cares? Cinnamon is another of Emma’s favourite things, so I don’t know why we’d never thought of putting it in pancakes before; we’ve put everything else in them! The recipe for the pancakes themselves was American and pretty foul; it had all sorts of artificial and unnecessary crap in it, put was flavoured with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon powder. The picture was of fluffy pancakes, so I thought I’d just make my usual ones and add the cinnamon.
So I did. And they were amazing; coupled with the burnt mutter and maple syrup, they were fluffy and light, like my usual pancakes, but had that mysterious, subtle smokeyness that’s the defining flavour of churros; it must be the cinnamon and burnt butter.
Here’s how I did it.
• 125g plain flower
• Heaped teaspoon baking powder
• Pinch sea salt
• 1 heaped teaspoon of caster sugar
• 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon powder
• 1 large egg
• 140ml milk
• 25g butter, melted
• A knob of butter for the frying pan
• 1 part butter (1 part = about a dessertspoon)
• 1 part maple syrup
• 1 part golden syrup (the recipe Emma saw was 2 parts maple syrup, but this makes it more economical!)
• A big pinch of cinnamon powder
To make the pancakes, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon to aerate them. Add the egg and milk, and whisk together into a batter. Add the melted butter, still whisking thoroughly, so it emulsifies into a smoother consistency batter. Then drop dessertspoonfuls of the mixture into a medium-heat frying pan; I tend to do about four at a time. After a minute or two they’ll go matte on top, which means it’s time to turn them over. Cook them about the same amount of time on the other side; they should have fluffed-up nicely, and be light golden brown.
To make the syrup, melt the butter in a small pan, and let it bubble until it just starts to go brown; if it goes completely brown it will burn and go very bitter, which you do not want. Take it off the heat, and add the maple syrup and golden syrup, and stir it all together before adding a big pinch (or a few shakes) of cinnamon powder. Pour a teaspoon or three of the syrup over a stack of the pancakes, and you’re done. Perfect breakfast.