Steven Soria's 5 Tips for the Very Best Banana Pancakes

Kitchen Tour

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Who cooks and eats here: Steven Soria of Make Smith
Where: Santa Barbara, CA
Visit Steven's blog: Make Smith Blog

Once you try Steven Soria's banana brûléed pancakes, it's hard to go back to any other pancake. In fact, I haven't had a single starchy patty pass my lips since this encounter with pure banana caramelized joy. Why bother when greatness is just down my street within this cute California kitchen? The situation is out of hand—I have to stop short of barking down his door for breakfast on the regular! Pancake mania has taken hold of me.

Luckily, Steve shared some of his pancake-making wisdom with me:

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Steven and I share a mutual love of pancakes. I thought I was pretty special sharing the technique I learned from Dana's recipe for the best pancakes ever, but Steven upstaged my from-scratch, serious labor-of-love technique by showing me that the pancake base doesn't really matter; it's all about the ripe banana slices placed atop the cake while it cooks, a healthy dose of brown sugar, and a well-greased cast iron skillet.

Could it be this new pancake paradigm was that easy and scrumptious? Indeed. I was humbled at first bite. This is a whole new thing, more a lovechild between Swedish pancake (with bubbles and air), banana upside-down cake, and the crisp shatter of creme brûlée, all enrobed in a healthy swath of creamy butter. As if pancakes weren't decadent enough, this unique twist on a standard breakfast treat is grand, beautiful and absolutely nap-inducing. I think I had to take 10 naps the day I dined upon these pillowy puffs of banana cloud.

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If you're feeling inspired, see Steven's tips below for making perfect banana pancakes.

You don't need a recipe: Simply whip up your favorite pancake mix or from-scratch pancake recipe (here's our best pancake recipe, if you want to see) and slice ripe bananas on top while the cake is cooking on the stove. Then generously sprinkle brown sugar on top and flip over on a well-greased skillet. Serve with maple syrup and plenty of butter.

Steven's 5 Tips for Perfect Banana Pancakes

  1. Add a splash of bubbly water to your pancake mix. Steven uses whatever pancake mix he has available and makes it to the spec with one additional ingredient: a splash of bubbly water to add lightness and air!
  2. Don't over-mix the batter. Over-mixing leads to tough pancakes because the gluten in the flour begins to develop as soon as liquid touches it, and the more you mix, the tougher the gluten becomes.
  3. Make sure your bananas are perfectly ripe. They need to have just the right amount of brown spots — somewhere around 5%.
  4. Have a very well-greased skillet. This is key for optimal cooking!
  5. ALWAYS do a test run! There will have to be a pancake(s) sacrificed. It's inevitable. This is when you adjust the temperature up or down as needed. If your pancake is scorched on the outside and raw on the inside, turn down the heat. Note: Always make a little extra batter just in case you sacrifice too many cakes.
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Visit Steve's Leather Goods Shop Online → Make Smith

(Image credits: Leela Cyd)