Vancouver. Sunday, 5AM. You jump from the bed and run for your computer. Across an entire continent and one ocean, almost two hundred cyclists are making their way through France, from the outskirts of Paris to the border with Belgium. Only 86 will make it to the finish line, and you want to see who they are. This is, after all, no usual Sunday. For each and all of those riders, this is a Sunday in Hell: The day when the Paris-Roubaix – the roughest of road cycling classic races – takes place.
Any other day but this Sunday, your love for a good sleep would easily win over your love for the sport, and you would be content with getting a second-hand report on the bike racing results of the day well past the crack of dawn. So… what is it that makes this race so special? The answer is simple: The cobbles. Paris-Roubaix features 27 cobbled sections, varying from quite smooth (1 star) to a surface similar to stones dropped from a helicopter (5 stars). Riders go through the cobbles full gas. On carbon road bikes. With skinny tires.
Punctures are an understatement. Sights of blood are not uncommon.
When the race is over, those who made it to the velodrome in Roubaix are caked in dust and mud. All of them tired, almost broken, but happy of having left behind the merciless cobbles. All… but you. You wish the race wasn’t over. You want more of the suspense and the drama. You want more of the cobbles. You want… a cobbler!
And this is how your normal Sunday breakfast (pancakes) is suddenly transformed into an homage to the Queen of the Classics: a Pancake-Rhubarb Cobbler. Riding through it without the help of any team-mates will be your own (sweet) penitence.
In northern latitudes, such as northern France and Belgium (where the Paris-Roubaix takes place) or Vancouver (where we are located), April usually marks the start of the rhubarb harvest. We wanted our breakfast to be fully in season with the Paris-Roubaix, so the choice of sauce was a no-brainer. Plus, the tartness of the rhubarb, when balanced out with the maple syrup, makes this sauce pretty bad-ass.
If you are able to look beyond the undeniable “dorkiness” of choosing a cobbler to pay tribute to a cobbled cycling race, this arrangement actually turned out to be the most sensible way of preparing our Sunday morning pancakes. Our pancake griddle allows for only one full size pancake at a time, which means we always need to turn on the oven in low heat to keep the finished pancakes warm while we cook the rest. In this recipe, you can simply arrange your mini-pancakes on top of the rhubarb sauce in the oven as soon as they get ready. This way your pancakes will keep evenly warm while the sauce finishes cooking.
For the sweet, sweet suffering (rhubarb sauce):
- 2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
For the merciless cobbles (mini-pancakes):
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup of walnuts, chopped
- 2 Tsp of maple syrup
- Preheat oven at 350F.
- Arrange rhubarb on a deep oven tray, and toss with maple syrup, turbinado sugar and vanilla bean pulp. Let sit and macerate for 15 minutes.
- Cook in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until rhubarb is soft, bubbling and sauce-like.
- Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Set aside.
- Stir together remaining ingredients (egg yolks, buttermilk, flour, quinoa, baking powder, baking soda).
- Incorporate egg whites to the mix, folding gently with a wooden spoon.
- You want these pancakes to be small, so pour a small quantity of batter onto a preheated pancake griddle. I used a 1/4 cup measure, without filling completely.
- When the bubbles in the surface start to burst, flip your tiny pancakes and cook the other side. No need to overcook here, as these will be going into the oven for the final arrangement.
- Arrange the pancakes on the oven dish, on top of rhubarb sauce, as you finish each in the previous step.
- Sprinkle top of pancakes with walnuts.
- Pour additional maple syrup on top.
- Reduce heat to 150F and let sit the arranged cobbler in the oven for 10 extra minutes.
Didn’t get enough Paris-Roubaix? Get yourself a Cima Coppi’s Paris-Roubaix t-shirt (available for pre-order).
Still hungry? Check other of our cycling inspired recipes.