What do Valentine’s Day, the Olympics, and these pancakes have in common? Beets!!!
Ok, hear me out, I know you might not think of beets as the sexiest thing around. (Chocolate, candlelight, roses, poems and beets???) But love ’em or hate ’em, you’ve got to admit the mighty red roots have some serious appeal. Beets are sometimes referred to as nature’s viagra and were considered an aphrodisiac in Roman times. It turns out there may be some truth to the claim because beets are rich in boron, a mineral that increases the level of natural sex hormones in men and women’s bodies. But beyond that, beets are one of the most nutritious foods out there. They have 50 times the antioxidant content of a carrot. In fact, studies have shown that beet juice is so nutritious that it is scientifically proven to improve athletic performance. And that’s why many Olympic athletes now drink beet juice instead of gatorade!
I was organizing my pantry the other day and found a bag of beets I’ve had there since they were harvested last fall. I was happy to see that they looked as fine as they did the day they came out of the ground.
I knew I wanted to make something beet-red for Valentine’s Day and it dawned on me that bright red pancakes would make quite a magical Valentine’s Day breakfast.
These red velvet pancakes are indeed a colorful way to start off the day with your loved ones. To achieve that lovely shade of red, all you need is a half cup of cooked puréed beets, which are easy to whip up in a blender.
I made the pancakes featured in these photos with half whole wheat flour and half light spelt flour and they were delightfully fluffy and tender. However, you could certainly make these with all white flour if you prefer. You would likely achieve a slightly higher rise and the red color will be even more vibrant as a result.
If you wish, you can also shape your batter into a heart pancake right in the skillet!
Serve the pancakes with whipped cream, maple syrup, and berries, for a breakfast that will melt anyone’s heart.
May you all have a most love-filled day.
Beet-Colored Red Velvet Pancakes
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup unbleached white flour (or light spelt flour)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp. white cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 cup mashed beets (3 medium-small cooked beets)
- Whisk all the dry ingredients together.
- Remove the skins from your cooked beets and roughly mash them together to obtain 1/2 cup. Place the mashed beets in the blender with 1 cup of the milk. Blend until smooth. Pour into a mixing bowl. Place the butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until melted. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk to the melted butter and heat for another minute until warm but not boiling. Add the warmed milked and butter mixture, the beaten eggs, and the vanilla to the beet and milk puree in the mixing bowl. Mix together well, until smooth and uniform.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix and gently fold in until incorporated. Do not overmix or you will have rubbery pancakes. Small lumps in the batter are ok. The batter should be fairly thick but you may need to add a few more tablespoonfuls of milk to lighten it up. Allow your batter to rest for 20 to 30 minutes, without stirring it. This helps the gluten relax so the pancakes will be tender.
- Heat a skillet or griddle on medium-low heat, adding small amount of oil (I like to use grapeseed oil because of its high smoking point. Spoon in the batter, about 1/4 cup at a time. Allow the pancake to start bubbling and once it is dry around the edges, flip it over. Resist the urge to press the pancakes down with the spatula, this is a sure way to take the fluff out of your pancakes. Serve warm.
Yield: 8 people
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series was nominated for a 2014 James Beard Award. In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category. Follow Aube on Facebook and Twitter.