It’s pretty hard to mess up a basic pancake, but it’s even harder to make a basic pancake so delicious that it lingers in your consciousness for days. Seriously—days. Origin Cafe’s buttermilk banana pancakes are one of the few contenders on that elite list.
Chef Aaron Clayton’s pancakes are some of the most unique and surprising and interesting I’ve ever tried—and I’ve tried a lot. There’s nothing particularly special about the recipe except for the fact that it’ll blow your mind in spite of its simplicity (you won’t find tired pancake tropes like Oreo™ Butterscotch Cream Cheese Frosting here). Made fresh two, sometimes three times a day, the batter results in cakes that are crispy along the edges and impossibly fluffy in the middle. Not the toothsome, spongey type of fluffy we’ve come to expect of most pancakes—almost a custardy type of fluffy. Like a fluffy whisper. This, Clayton says, is the result of science, because as any Good Eats fan knows, the interaction of ingredients matters. “The buttermilk provides a certain amount of acid, and if you mix in active ingredients like baking powder and baking soda too soon, they’re not as fluffy as they should be,” he says. “But the biggest thing with the texture is not overmixing. We barely mix the batter.”
It’s a recipe Clayton’s kept in his back pocket for years, but having come from a fine dining background—he worked under chef Yuval Ben Neriah at Tel Aviv’s now-shuttered Herbert Samuel before becoming a private chef in L.A.—this is the first time he’s had a reason to put it on a menu. Served two-high with a humble crown of sliced bananas and a side of house made brown butter date syrup, the pancakes speak to Clayton’s overall philosophy for his eight-month-old cafe, which is about making the most of fresh, local ingredients. Case in point: “We don’t have a hell of a lot of maple trees in California, but we do grow dates,” he says.
So next time you find yourself on West Pico in the breakfasting hour, remember the words of one self-proclaimed aficionado: these banana pancakes may very well change your life.