For whatever reason, over the years, I’ve never abided by the taboo about only eating eggs, bacon, or cereal for breakfast. I wake up starving, and if there’s curry in the fridge, I’d much rather grab that then make an omelet. During the week, I sleep until the last possible second and usually wind up eating last night’s leftovers for breakfast. It gives my coworkers great pleasure to tease me about our office smelling like stuffed peppers at 8:30am.
On the weekends, there’s time to eat and prepare a real breakfast – or brunch. But weekends are also when there’s time to polish off random leftovers that have accumulated in the fridge over the week. That’s when things can get creative. Thrifty chefs will often advise you to repurpose those tidbits into a frittata or hash. That can result in an unexpectedly delicious brunch, sweetened by the success of transforming leftovers into a wonderful, good-as-new meal.
But what happens when you don’t have meats and veggies to fold into your eggs? What should you do when your only leftovers are a giant Tupperware full of past-their-prime pancakes?
When faced with that challenge recently, I didn’t want to serve leftover pancakes. As delicious as they’d been on their day of birth, I knew that a trip down Reheat Lane would only dry them out. They’d be picked at, not eaten.
Then it hit me. When you have an old, stale loaf of bread, what’s the best way to deal with it? Bread pudding. Why couldn’t I do the same thing with these pancakes?
If you follow the recipe below, you will remove from your oven a delicious treat. Whoever finds it on their plate will eat happily. You can, however, jazz it up with just a little creativity. Check out my ideas below. Oh yeah, one last thing – use a shallow, wide baking dish if you’ve got one; you’ll love the contrast between the pudding’s crunchy top and creamy interior.
Recipe: Pancake Bread Pudding
6 cups leftover pancakes, torn into chunks
1 1/2 cups half and half (substitute milk if you don’t have it)
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish (I used an 8″ round one).
In a large bowl, beat half and half, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add pancake chunks and allow to soak in mixture for about ten minutes.
Pour pancake mix into baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set and browned on top.
Spoon onto individual plates and serve with maple syrup.
– Make maple syrup whipped cream by mixing a few tablespoons of maple syrup with a cup of heavy cream. Beat until firm, and serve with the pudding.
– Fold a few tablespoons of maple syrup into creme fraiche and serve alongside.
– Add crumbled cooked bacon or sausage to the pancakes after the soaking time and before baking.
– Top pudding with crumbled bacon or sausage before baking.
– Bake in ramekins or individual serving dishes (just decrease the baking time by 10-20 minutes). Add a raw egg to the top about 5 minutes before finished. Bake until whites are set.
– Mix in chocolate chips, bananas, strawberries, blueberries: anything you like on your pancakes!
– Substitute or supplement smoky ancho chile powder for cinnamon and top with chocolate sauce for a Mexican chocolate-inspired breakfast.
Any more ideas? Please feel free to share.