Since I’m a crazy person who tries to schedule every minute of her days, I don’t usually end up with a spare moment to read cookbooks until the few minutes before I go to sleep. But – this actually gives me a solid way of judging how good a cookbook is: In those brief moments before I get too drowsy to continue reading, how hungry does it make me? With Joy Wilson’s new book, Homemade Decadence, I would not be hungry at all when I got into bed, but then suddenly be starving and have to put the book down so I wouldn’t be forced to escape to the kitchen to eat an entire jar of peanut butter. Those nights I went to bed dreaming of chocolate peanut butter pretzel cakes, sausage and blackberry breakfast pizza, and bourbon chocolate pecan pie bars. One night it went so far that, while I was half asleep, I asked Robert what kinds of pies he was making and if there was any left. Clearly this book went to my head.
I was absolutely overjoyed (get it? heheh) when I received Joy’s book in the mail. It’s wonderful in so many ways – it’s cute, it’s very “Joy,” and it’s approachable while still being completely over-the-top in a Joy the Baker kind of way. Her personality really resonates throughout the whole book, but especially in the headnotes for the recipes. I’m the kind of dork who reads a cookbook from cover to cover, so I appreciate a good headnote. Joy likes to introduce us to her recipes in a way that only she can. My favorite example is the headnote for the Rhubarb Cornmeal Crostata, where she compares rhubarb to the “lanky middle child” who does a “spot-on impression of her favorite weatherman” for the family talent show when her sisters had choreographed a routine from West Side Story. She says the crostata is “not nearly as awkward as the lanky middle child, but every bit as endearing.” Who writes headnotes like that? Joy the Baker does, that’s who. And that’s why we love her.
The brunch section is the bomb, and probably my favorite part. (That, or the cake section. Or the cookie section.) Joy’s next book is all about brunch, though, so we should all be excited for that one if it’s anything like the brunch section in this book. Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Glaze (which you can find on How Sweet It Is), Breakfast Cobbler with Oatmeal Drop Biscuits, Roasted Potato Breakfast Nachos?! The list goes on. I call dibs on having brunch at Joy’s house every weekend.
Robert and I actually had the pleasure of meeting Joy recently, AND we watched her make the Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Topping from her book. I can now tell you from experience that Joy is just as wonderful and charming in person as she appears to be on her blog and podcast. Confession time: I’ve never made a pie from scratch before. I think this is partially because I’ve always been intimidated by the thought of making a pie crust, but also because I just don’t love pie that much. (Please don’t tell Joy!) It’s just that if I’m going to spend an entire afternoon in the kitchen, I’d rather end up with a layer cake or some epic cookies. It’s just the way I am – this blog is called “Cake Over Steak” for a reason, not “Pie Over Steak.” That said, her pumpkin pie was sooooooo good! If I need a pumpkin pie in the future I’m definitely reaching for that recipe. And now that I’ve had Joy the Baker walk me through how to make a pie, it doesn’t seem so scary after all. I have plans to make one from scratch sometime …. soon. I’ll keep you posted.
Now, moving on to today’s recipe – I obviously had to pick something from the brunch section since I love it so much. Pancakes are one of my favorite things to make (and eat), but I had never seen an overnight yeasted pancake recipe before. I love yeasted waffles, so I knew I had to try this out. Flip the page in the book and you’ll find her recipe for The Ultimate Pancake Syrup, which caught my eye immediately. I’ll give you six reasons why: Bacon. Maple syrup. Butter. Vanilla extract. Salt. BACON.
I’ll give you a moment to think about that.
I not only wanted to put that on my pancakes, but to quote Lorelai Gilmore, “I wanna take a bath in that sauce!” Yep, it’s true. I do.
These pancakes obviously win because you stir together the batter the night before. Therefore they are perfect for those mornings when you have weekend guests but you accidentally stayed up too late the night before drinking and talking about stupid things. We’ve all been there. But with these pancakes, you did all of the hard work the day before. You can feel accomplished simply by the act of waking up. You’re welcome. Serve it with that special pancake sauce and your guests might never leave.
I did find these pancakes to have a strong yeast flavor, not that I was surprised. If that’s not your thing, then just make regular pancakes in the morning like a normal human. I like that yeasty flavor, so it didn’t bother me. However, I did find the flavor of these pancakes WITH The Ultimate Pancake Syrup to be a little intense. So next time I would probably serve the syrup with a more traditional pancake (or chocolate chip ones, hehehe), and these yeasted pancakes I would probably serve with a fruit sauce or something like that. But to each his/her own – I still enjoyed the combination, I just couldn’t eat too much of it (which is probably best for my waistline).
If the amount of butter in the sauce frightens you, have no fear. I think the sauce would still be insanely delicious if you reduced the amount of butter in it dramatically. For me it’s really more about the salty-sweet combination from the maple syrup, vanilla and bacon. Or try coconut oil! That could be fun.
BONUS RECIPE: We had some leftover syrup and we used it for dinner one night. Here’s how to do this yourself: Follow this recipe for roasted chicken and vegetables from Real Simple. But instead of making their maple-mustard sauce, take your leftovers of The Ultimate Pancake Syrup, warm it up in a saucepan and add some dijon mustard to taste. For 1/2 cup of syrup I think I added about two teaspoons of mustard. Pour that sauce all over the chicken and vegetables, and enjoy the fact that this is your life.
Thanks so much to Joy for sending me her glorious book! It will be cherished forever among the rest of my collection. It’s bonkers awesome.
- 1 (12-ounce) package of bacon
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into large cubes
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer across a rimmed baking sheet. (I would recommend using parchment paper on your baking sheet.) Bake until the bacon is cooked through and crispy, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and let cool. Roughly chop the bacon and set it aside.
- Heat the maple syrup in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time, until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated and emulsified.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla, salt and bacon. Stir well. The syrup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- 1.5 cups warm whole milk (about 105°F)
- 1 (.25-ounce) package active dry yeast (2.25 tsp)
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- butter or oil, for the pan
- In a small bowl, whisk together the warm milk and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Add the melted butter, eggs and vanilla to the milk and yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Pour the yeast mixture, all at once, into the dry ingredients. Stir until no lumps remain. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and drape a clean kitchen towel over the covered bowl. Put the bowl on top of a plate in the refrigerator (in case the dough overflows) and let the pancake batter rest overnight.
- When ready to make the pancakes, remove the batter from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Put a rack in the center of the oven, put a heat-proof plate on the rack, and preheat the oven to 150°F.
- In a griddle or nonstick saute pan set over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter. Working in batches, spoon the batter onto the griddle. For small pancakes, use about 2 tbsp per pancake, and for larger pancakes, about ¼ cup. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Carefully flip and cook the second side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. Transfer the cooked pancakes to the plate in the warm oven, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and keep warm until ready to serve.