Just thinking about this dish makes me happy as a puppy under an occupied high chair.
I love breakfast food. I think it’s because of the yummy combination of fats, carbs, and proteins without those pesky old vegetables showing up and being all healthy and law-abiding. Our wedding anniversary dinner is coming up, and I chose a place with an all-day brunch buffet.
But whenever I go out for AM-type eats, I am smack dab on the horns of a delicious, delicious dilemma.
Deciding between pancakes and French toast is just too hard; especially on an empty stomach.
I’ve recently discovered a marvelous hybrid. Pancakes, cooked into a French toast-type casserole. The French name for custard-soaked slices of bread, cooked golden brown in a skillet, is pain perdue.
So I call this recipe pancake perdu.
8-10 pancakes approximately 4-5 inches across
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
Big pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold cut up butter
Butter a 1 pound loaf pan (approx. 8 ½ X 4 ½).
Cut pancakes in half across the middle and line them up in pan. Stack them tight enough to stand up, but not so tight that custard can’t soak in (they’ll swell with custard and puff while baking).
Whisk together custard. Slowly pour over pancakes. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or even better, overnight.
Preheat oven to 350.
For topping stir together flour, brown sugar, pecans and salt. Add butter and cut in with fingers until it looks like streusel. Sprinkle topping on pancakes in loaf pan.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until edges are set and center is still a little jiggly.
Dress with syrup or powdered sugar. Serves 4.
And the awesomeness of this recipe just keeps coming.
The pancake part is as flexible as an Eastern European gymnast. If you wish, you can just use frozen pancakes. Any variety works fine. Just thaw them before assembling. Or use a box mix, or one of those shaker mix thingies.
Or make homemade. That’s where your palate can really take flight. I’d probably go with sourdough flapjacks flecked with fresh, roasted silver queen corn. You might like buttermilk pancakes, studded with blueberries. What about buckwheat with chocolate chips? The idea of a lemon ricotta pancake is endlessly intriguing. The sky is the limit. You can also scatter fruit, nuts, or crispy bacon amongst the pancakes when you stack them in the loaf pan.
If you are making pancakes yourself, you can make them weeks in advance, and freeze them.
If you’re not feeling streusel topping, leave it off. Switch out pecans with walnuts or even oats. Or change it with different spices and flavorings. That goes for the custard, too. Whisk in some cocoa powder, spike it with orange oil, or almond extract.
You can double the recipe, and either use two loaf pans, or use a 9X13 pan. If you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ve got plenty, and if you don’t need both, wrap and freeze one.
I’m not going to kid you; this dish is rich. Pancake perdue is special occasion food. It’s perfect for houseguests, Christmas morning, or the very best first day of school ever. Just maybe take a nice long walk after you eat.
Thanks for your time.