Every time we harvest our bananas (an entire bunch at a time), it means we have to clear some space in the freezer for the bananas that inevitably turn brown and mushy because we can’t eat them fast enough. While unappealing at first, brown and mushy bananas are actually the perfect ripeness for things like banana bread and banana ice cream, which only taste better the browner the fruit becomes.
You know what else they’re perfect for? Two-ingredient banana pancakes. We usually use peak-of-ripeness bananas in pancakes because we like to fold firmer slices into our batter, but I’d been hearing about two-ingredient pancakes for a while and thought they’d be a good way to use up our stash of frozen overripe bananas (because we spy two or three more bunches in the backyard about to ripen soon!).
When I first heard about two-ingredient pancakes — which are made with only bananas and eggs — I wasn’t too excited about the idea and, well, I thought they’d taste like a banana omelet. They’re dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and even paleo; one might even say they’re fun-free because honestly, dairy, gluten and grain are some of my favorite things in the food world and eating like a cavewoman is not.
But I’ll admit something… these two-ingredient pancakes are pretty awesome. I always have these two (three) ingredients in my pantry. (I added the third ingredient, baking powder, to give the batter a little lift, though they’re fine without it and you’ll just have a slightly denser pancake.) They’re quick and easy to make. They’re great to pack for a camping trip. You could even bring them backpacking, and whipping up a stack of pancakes (with no dehydrated bag in sight) on a backpacking trip will impress any of your friends — even the ultralight folks, once they see how simple it is.
These pancakes are sweet, lightly filling, and bursting with banana flavor, but don’t expect them to taste like a traditional pancake. I’d say the texture is more akin to a thick crepe. You can top them off as you would with either — Nutella, maple, or a dusting of powdered sugar — but my favorite is a simple swirl of honey and a squeeze of lime.
Honey and lime on a banana pancake brings me back to the time I spent backpacking in Laos and Thailand, when that simple breakfast seemed like the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted. It’s remarkable how a certain flavor and texture can trigger a memory so vividly; every time I take a bite, I can picture myself in those same roadside restaurants, backpack at my feet, bandanna on my head, watching monkeys scamper across the railing.
I had always wanted to recreate those famous “backpackers’ banana pancakes” at home, and while the Asian version used many more than two ingredients, these are good and easy enough until I go back.
I give the basic recipe here, but you can of course get a little crazy by adding more ingredients. I love to sprinkle a little cinnamon and nutmeg in the batter when I mix it up, or I’ll top the circles of batter with mini chocolate chips or finely chopped nuts when I pour them on the griddle. Since this is a thin batter, I don’t mix the chunky add-ins with the eggs and banana; I add them on top as the first side of the pancake is frying.
Two (Actually, Three) Ingredient Pancakes
Makes 12 silver-dollar pancakes
For the Pancakes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup mashed overripe banana (approximately 1 large supermarket banana)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Butter or oil (for greasing)
In a mixer or or even just a bowl with your balloon whisk, mix all the pancake ingredients together until they form a smooth batter; a few lumps are okay. (If using a frozen banana, make sure it’s fully thawed first.)
Grease a large, heavy skillet or griddle with a small pat of butter (or oil) and heat it over medium heat. Pour a silver dollar-sized amount of pancake batter (about 2 tablespoons’ worth) onto the skillet and let it sit undisturbed until the edges start to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.
When the edges easily lift away from the skillet, flip the pancake and fry for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining batter. (On my griddle, I actually pour six little puddles at a time, so it’s a pretty quick breakfast to pull together.)
Stack ‘em up, squeeze half a lime on top, add a pat of butter, and drizzle on some honey to serve.
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