With its musky vanilla overtones, pandan works well in breakfast pancakes, crepes, hotcakes and the like. If you can’t be bothered dealing with fresh leaves here, just substitute pandan essence (either clear or green) to taste. Use honey instead of the palm sugar syrup if you’re short on time; but do try and get sugar bananas, or lady fingers, if you can. The firm texture and rich, sweet, tangy flavour of these small varieties pack way more of a punch than the regular cavendish.
- 300 g (2 cups) plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 2 ½ tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 430 ml (1¾ cups) coconut milk
- 24 pandan leaves, finely chopped (see Note)
- 75 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 100 g chopped unsalted roasted peanuts, or to taste
- Butter, for cooking
- Sliced sugar bananas, to serve
To make spiced syrup
- 270 g (1½ cups) chopped palm sugar
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken
- 8 cardamom seeds, crushed
- 400 ml water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the spiced syrup, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced and thickened slightly. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature then strain, discarding the solids.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl then stir in the sugar and salt. Combine the coconut milk and pandan leaves in a food processor or blender and process until the leaves form a fine mulch. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with muslin, squeezing on the leaves hard to extract as much liquid as possible. Preheat the oven to 120˚C.
Combine the flour mixture, 375 ml (1½ cups) of the coconut milk mixture, the butter and eggs in a food processor then process just until a smooth, thick batter forms; it should drop heavily from a spoon. Do not over process or the pancakes will be tough; add a little extra remaining coconut milk mixture or some water if the mixture is too thick.
Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over medium then melt a little butter in the pan, swirling to coat the pan lightly. Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, spreading each to form a circle about 12 cm across. Cook for 4 minutes or until bubbles start appearing on the surface then turn the pancakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a heat proof plate, cover lightly with foil then place in the oven to keep warm while the remaining mixture cooks.
Divide the pancakes among warmed plates, top each with sliced bananas to taste and scatter over the peanuts. Drizzle with the spiced syrup and serve immediately.
• Whenever you require freshly-extracted pandan liquid, the process to make it is the same, regardless of the base liquid. Use 18-20 pandan leaves per cup of liquid ( a few more or less will work too - you can play with the intensity of flavour to suit). Wash the leaves well and trim the tough ends. Use kitchen scissors to cut them into small pieces then process them with the liquid until the pandan leaves are extremely finely chopped and form a mulch. Do this in batches if you need to - the leaves are really quite tough and the finer you chop them, the better. Transfer the mixture to a fine sieve and press down hard on the solids (or squeeze them with your hands) to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the solids. The liquid will freeze well.
Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.