{foraging} rye and yogurt pancakes with figs and fennel syrup

We're lucky that Greta spends many days a week in the very good care of two angelic sisters, Miss Marlene and Miss Angele, who keep her fed and happy while AndrĂ¡s and I work. One of the things that drew us to their sweet space was the fact that it's in a family home, right on the park, with a garden out back to play in the shade of an enormous fig tree.

This is Greta's first fall there, and it hasn't taken her long to fall as hard and fast for figs as I did the first time I had the chance to pick them straight from a tree, long ago in St. Tropez where I spent many months as a private chef.

These days, I get my figs from this sweet Italian gent down the street from me, one of the dozens of my neighbors who brought the tradition of keeping fig trees in their yard from Italy, Greece or in the case of Marlene and Angele—Malta. But I found the fig bowl on his porch empty the last two times I passed. On a recent evening picking up Greta, I admitted to Miss Marlene that I had a hard and fast fig craving and no ready solution. She welcomed me to forage the upper reaches of the fig tree, where it's us against the birds to get to them first. For the most part, they've won, but one day this week Greta and I made out with four whole figs, plump and pink inside—an absolute treasure, and cause to celebrate.

In our house, celebrating means pancakes. A lengthier start to a week-day, the kind that gives her Apa (papa) heart palpations since his commute is a little more time consuming than mine. But today, her Apa's gone, and this rain has me feeling snoozy, like hanging in with my girl a little longer than usual before I arrive at my desk.

Pancakes in our house almost always start with mostly or at least some whole-grain flour. Rye is our favorite of late—earthy and rich, which blends well with buttermilk, or since it's always on hand in our fridge, creamy European-style yogurt. These fat stacks are great in Papa size portions, or made as silver dollars, just right for dipping.

Today we're dipping in a little fennel maple syrup, made with another foraged treat—fresh fennel seeds from our neighbor's garden, sprinkled in while the syrup warms on a low flame. But any light drizzle of pure grade b syrup over your stack is just the thing to sweeten the start of the day.


Rye and Yogurt Pancakes with Fresh Figs
and Fennel Syrup

Makes 12 to 18 pancakes

1 cup rye flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp raw or unbleached sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup thick plain yogurt + 1 cup whole milk (or 2 cups buttermilk)
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
Fresh figs

Fennel Maple Syrup
Grade B maple syrup
¼ to ½ teaspoon fennel seeds

Whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the egg whites, yogurt and milk in another bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and whisk in the wet ingredients, alternating between wet mixtures until the batter is just incorporated with a few lumps—be careful not to over mix, which can make the pancakes tough.

Warm the syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the fennel seeds if desired, stir to combine, and keep warm over low heat while you make the pancakes.

Heat a nonstick or cast-iron griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. To test, splash a drop of water onto the griddle; it should sizzle. Brush the griddle lightly with melted butter. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the griddle, leaving plenty of space between pancakes for them to spread and be flipped. Cook until the bottoms are set and a few bubbles form around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add a little more melted butter to the griddle.

Using a flexible spatula, flip the pancakes and cook until the bottoms are golden brown around the edges of the second side, and the apples a touch crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and stack them high, topped with butter, fresh figs and a drizzle of warm fennel syrup.

Photos and Recipes © Sarah Copeland 2012
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With Style and Grace said...

This look like the perfect sunday breakfast! I've really been enjoying figs lately - just wish the season was longer.

Kate Ramos said...

Yum, these look marvelous and I love all things fennel, what a great idea to add it to syrup!

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.