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lemon poppyseed pancakes with honey butter

We have been looking forward to this week for a long time. Our ten-year old niece, Stella is flying down from Portland to stay with us! While one of the days will be spent at the happiest place on earth with thunderous mountains, Caribbean pirates and fantasy lands, we were also excited by her request to garden and cook with us, specifically matzo ball soup which she has never tried before. Now is the perfect time of year to be outdoors and to start planting seeds like tomatoes and basil, so we can’t wait to spend time gardening together in this pleasant sunshiny weather. When coming up with fun activities to do while she is here, we couldn’t help but also pick out a few delicious meals that we could prepare during her first solo California vacation. Pancakes quickly made the top of our list for breakfasts, and as we were looking up our favorite recipe in the Joy of Cooking, we noticed a lemon poppyseed version on the same page. Our impulsive curiosity led us to test these out for dinner the other night, and we were richly rewarded with a stack of hot golden pancakes—soft, fluffy, lush with lemon flavor, speckled with poppy seeds, and topped with a generous swirl of sweet honey butter. Breakfast for dinner never tasted so good.

These fluffy pancakes are perfect any day (or any time) of the week. Made with simple ingredients, they are as easy to make as classic pancakes, and boast a tangy lemon flavor and a satisfying crunch from the poppyseeds. Using both zest and freshly-squeezed juice, they are filled with bright citrus flavor in every bite. Cooked on a hot cast iron skillet until sizzling and slightly crispy on the bottom, these golden flapjacks are then served with homemade honey butter: sweet, creamy, and the ideal topping for allowing the light and lemony flavors to shine.

There are a few simple tricks to ensure golden and delicious pancakes every time! The first is to mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the liquid in another. The two are then blended together until just combined, keeping the texture soft and smooth since it is stirred as little as possible. The second technique is to make sure the skillet is hot enough, which you can easily check by flicking drops of water onto the pan. If they sizzle and dance across the surface, the pan is ready to go. And the last tip is to check under the pancakes as little as possible while they are cooking: once you see bubbles on top, it’s time to flip!. Using these straightforward methods will give you perfect pancakes every time so you can cook brunch with confidence. Even if it is for dinner.

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes with Honey Butter
adapted from The Joy of Cooking
makes about 12 pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (7oz/200g) greek yogurt
1/3 cup almond milk (see note)
1/4 cup lemon juice (see note)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest from two lemons
1/2 cup (2.4oz/68g) poppy seeds

For the honey butter:
1/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 200ºF, and place an oven-safe plate on the middle rack.

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together: the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until combined, and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients together: the yogurt, milk, lemon juice, melted butter, egg, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Fold in the lemon zest and poppy seeds, and stir until just combined.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-low until hot. To test if it is hot enough, sprinkle a drop of water on the skillet, and if it sizzles and dances across the surface, it is ready. If the water drop just sits there, it is too cool. If the drop evaporates immediately, it is too hot. When ready, grease the skillet very lightly with oil or butter, and pour 1/4 cup of batter in the center, nudging the batter slightly to make an even circle. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, and bubbles near the edges pop and stay open. With a spatula, check that the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer finished pancake to the oven to stay warm while you make the remaining pancakes.

To make the honey butter, combine equal parts salted butter and honey in a bowl, and stir until smooth and creamy. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use.

Serve pancakes hot from the oven topped with honey butter and fresh fruit if desired. Enjoy!

notes:
—This recipe calls for both lemon zest and lemon juice. It is much easier to zest the lemons before juicing, so be sure to do that first!
—We use almond milk for this recipe, but any other milk will work (Soy, dairy, rice, etc).
—The amount of poppy seeds needed for this recipe is exactly one 2.4oz jar, commonly sold in the baking/spices section of grocery stores.