When I was a student, I had a part-time job as a nanny looking after three brothers ranging in age from 4-10. It involved picking them up from three different schools, driving them back home, and most importantly of all, making them afternoon tea. No matter how much they argued in the car (ranging from quite a bit to a lot), on their choice of after-school snack there was always total agreement: pikelets. Light, fluffy and happily eaten or cold, pikelets are a particularly Australian childhood treat. They're an excellent vehicle for jam and cream or butter and honey, and have a miraculous silencing effect on hungry children who stop shouting/fighting/breaking things long enough to focus all their attention on eating as many as possible. The ones I used to make for the boys I looked after were the traditional kind - white flour, sugar, egg and milk soured with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice. These, from a recipe by Bill Granger, are a healthier twist on the original and ressemble more pancakes than pikelets. And so perfect for breakfast. Especially with homemade salted maple butter.
Who knew making butter was so easy? Not me, til I happened across this recipe and was inspired to throw some leftover cream, a dash of maple syrup and a pinch of salt in my Kitchen Aid mixer. Ten minutes later I had glossy, rich home (if not exactly hand) churned butter.
My former charges are grown up now. A few years ago we caught up and I made them pikelets. Some things never get old.
Recipe adapted from Bill's Food by Bill Granger
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
170ml (2/3 cup) milk
butter, for greasing the pan
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Add the egg and milk and whisk til smooth.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat and brush with butter, being careful not to let the butter brown. Spoon tablespoons of mixutre into the pan and cook for aobut 2 minutes til bubbles appear on the surface. Turn the pikelets over and cook for another 30 seconds.
Serve hot from the pan with nutmeg maple butter (recipe follows), maple syrup, honey, jam, or whatever takes your fancy.
Salted maple butter
Recipe by Sneh Roy of the very beautiful blog Cook Republic
This freezes beautifully so if you're not planning on pikelets or pancakes anytime soon, just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store away for a rainy day. Though the original recipe calls for thickened cream, I made mine with thin and it worked just as well. I imagine you could very easily tweak this recipe to make a flavoured savoury butter (to spread on a sandwich or toss a pat through steamed vegetables).by omitting the maple syrup and subsituting herbs or olives... anything really.
300ml thickened cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
pink salt flakes, optional
Place cream, salt and maple syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment. Mix on low for 2-4 minutes. Increase speed to medium and mix for 7-8 minutes til milk solids separate.
Using clean hands, contain the solids as you squeeze out the excess liquid. Gather the butter in the palm of your hand and form it into whatever shape you desire, then sprinkle pink salt flakes on top if using. Store in fridge til ready to use.