Introduction: Easy Banana Pancakes

About: I'll tinker with anything, but I'm often to be found repairing, improving, and restoring things. I'm always looking to develop new skills (anyone near Boston want to teach me welding?), but am currently best a…

We have all suffered those moments of shame and heartbreak, when we realize that the perfect bunch of beautiful, organic bananas that we bought just last week has slipped beyond our reach into the realm of brown-speckled sadness. We then console ourselves with the idea of baking banana bread when they're just a little riper, which we forget to do, and we are eventually forced to consign the blackened bunch of fruit to the compost heap, telling ourselves that we will use the resulting soil to grow wonderful produce next summer (which we may also forget to do).

Well, my friend, those days of suffering are over! These banana pancakes can be made quickly using just about any level of ripeness of banana (excepting all green and all brown). They also freeze (and microwave-thaw) better than any other recipe I've seen, so your dreams of homemade pancakes on days when you only have five minutes to make an easy breakfast have just come true. They make a pretty easy dessert, too.

If you hadn't already guessed, this pancake recipe is a favorite at my house. We like it so much that I've created a spreadsheet so that it's easy to double the recipe (or to multiply the recipe by an irrational number, for that matter). You can download the spreadsheet in the next step. Read on to to find out how to make these fantastic pancakes, where the recipe is from, and maybe a secret or two about it!

Step 1: Assemble Your Ingredients (and Equipment)

For utensils and cooking implements, you will need:

  • A stove
  • Two mixing bowls
  • A skillet, frying pan or griddle
  • A spatula
  • A whisk
  • A masher (or a fork and three extra minutes)
  • A kitchen scale (optional)

For ingredients, you will need:

  • Bananas (as many as you're trying to get rid of)
  • Milk (I use soy milk; it's great)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Canola oil
  • Vanilla extract
  • Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Pecans (optional)

Attached to this step is an Excel spreadsheet with the amounts of everything that you will need in U.S. and metric volumetric measurements, as well as by weight (in grams). The spreadsheet allows for the input of a multiplier if you want to make more pancakes. It also has a calculator at the bottom to help you figure out what multiplier to use if you just want to use up all your bananas. If you don't want to use the spreadsheet, the next few steps will also give measurements.

Step 2: Bananas and Other Liquids

As shown, I prefer to weigh my bananas (after removing their skins), and let that dictate how much batter I make. If you don't have a kitchen scale, just go ahead and work by volume after you mash the bananas. Despite the precision implied by using Excel, this is a fairly forgiving recipe.

Once you've mashed your bananas, pour in all your other liquid ingredients on top of them. I prefer to do this by weight, but I have included all three modes of measurement below.

By Weight:

  • 275 g Mashed bananas
  • 362 g Soy milk
  • 5 g Apple cider vinegar
  • 13 g Canola oil
  • 5 g Vanilla extract

By U.S. Volume:

  • 1.25 cups Mashed bananas
  • 1.5 cups Soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

By Metric Volume (rounded for sanity):

  • 296 mL Mashed bananas
  • 355 mL Soy milk
  • 5 mL Apple cider vinegar
  • 15 mL Canola oil
  • 5 mL Vanilla extract

Now set your bowl of unmixed goop aside; we'll come back to it.

Step 3: Dry Ingredients

Add all of your dry ingredients together in the other bowl, and whisk them into a homogenous powder (this will be easier if your whisk is still dry). You can use whatever flour makes you happy, although I tend to use (roughly) 2/3 all-purpose unbleached flour, and 1/3 whole wheat pastry flour. Aside from having a bit less gluten than all purpose flour, pastry flour is more finely ground, so it doesn't really seem like whole wheat flour, even though it is. This is what makes these pancakes so incredibly healthy (and if you believe that, I know a gentleman named George C. Parker who would like to speak to you about some excellent real estate opportunities).

Anyhow, for everyone who doesn't use spreadsheets (hi to everyone's great-aunt Mabel!), here are the dry ingredients.

By Weight:

  • 180 g Flour
  • 8 g Baking powder
  • 3 g Baking soda
  • 2 g Salt
  • 1 g Cinnamon

By U.S. Volume:

  • 1.5 Cups Flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 0.5 teaspoons Baking soda
  • NO. This is just too silly, and I refuse to be a part of it! Dang it, United States! Go directly to metric! Do not pass "Go", do not collect $200!
  • OK, fine, we'll finish with the U.S. volumes. But just this once. And only because you already have the measuring spoons out.
  • 0.25 (1/4) teaspoons Salt
  • 0.125 (1/8) teaspoons Cinnamon

By Metric Volume (again, rounded for sanity):

  • 355 mL Flour
  • 7.5 mL Baking powder
  • 2.5 mL Baking soda
  • 1 mL Salt
  • 0.5 mL Cinnamon

Step 4: Combine and Whisk

Now that your dry ingredients are whisked together, go ahead and whisk your wet ingredients into a mostly homogenous goo. Then combine your bowls of wet and dry ingredients into one bowl. Mix thoroughly enough that there are no clumps of flour, but don't worry about a few small clumps of banana. Unless you used a blender to mash your banana (and then it wouldn't be called mashing anymore), you'll always get some of those.

Step 5: Nuts!

If you would like to add nuts to the entire recipe, you can chop them up and mix them into the batter now. If, like me, you sometimes want nuts and sometimes don't, then set them aside and you can sprinkle them into however many pancakes you like while they're cooking.

If you're still not using the spreadsheet, the nuts (after chopping) should be about 1/2 cup or 118 mL by volume, which weighs around 55g.

Step 6: Cook...

You're so close to wonderful deliciousness now! Heat your skillet, griddle, car door, armor breastplate, or other hot surface with your stove, grill, blowtorch, Archimedes death-ray, or other heat source. Put some oil or butter on it, wait until it sizzles a bit, and pour some batter in the rough shape of a pancake (don't think too hard about the shape, you'll mess it up). Add nuts if you want to (don't if you don't).

Flip the pancakes when the edges are solid and the centers have bubbles that aren't popping very often anymore, but are mostly just sitting at the surface. Don't stress too much about this, your pancakes will be great no matter what.

Step 7: Eat (repeatedly)!

Once you're done cooking, eat. Freeze whatever you can't eat--these defrost wonderfully in the microwave (you can go straight from the freezer to the microwave with these; no layovers needed).

As promised at the beginning, I'll now tell you where this recipe is from. With only minor alterations (and the addition of a spreadsheet), it's from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's wonderful cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance.* That's also the secret: the best pancakes I know how to make happen to be vegan! I think that the lack of milk and eggs may also be part of the reason that these pancakes keep so well in the freezer, and are so delicious on the second, third, and tenth times around. Unfortunately, although reducing the amount of animal products in your diet is good for your overall health, I still haven't been able to convince anyone that these pancakes should be considered a health food.

Another secret, if you want to be able to make these pancakes nearly instantly on demand (perhaps you're trying to impress a date, or silence an entire sleepover of hungry children--or wolves), you can mix all of the dry ingredients ahead of time and keep the powder in a jar. With a little help from the spreadsheet and a scale, you can then make these pancakes in one bowl in record time. Post your best times in the comments (measured from when you have a clean bowl to when the first pancake is finished)!

Now, enjoy your banana pancakes and congratulate yourself on having not wasted any bananas. Be warned, however, if you cook these enough times, you will start buying bananas and neglecting them, just for an excuse to stock your freezer with more awesome homemade pancakes. If you make a batch of these yourself, please post in the comments and let everyone know how your pancakes turned out!

* Although recipes are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States, I believe strongly in offering credit where credit is due and supporting the people who invent and publish great recipes. If you're curious about how to make awesome vegetarian and vegan food, you should definitely think about buying one of the many fantastic cookbooks that Ms. Moskowitz has published (I'm a big fan of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, personally, but then again, I might just be a big fan of cookies).