Pumpkin Buttermilk Pancakes

I offer the first of two recipes for buttermilk breakfasts, this one featuring the quintessential autumn ingredient. As you will see, the secret to making delicious pumpkin buttermilk pancakes is to make delicious pumpkin buttermilk.

Dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, & 1 tsp baking soda.

Wet ingredients: 1 large egg, 2 cups buttermilk, 3 TB brown sugar, ¾ cup pumpkin,1 TB vanilla, ½ tsp each salt, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, & 3 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

Now make your pumpkin buttermilk:

2A. In a medium bowl, beat the egg slightly, then pour in the buttermilk. (Whenever possible, I use local, fresh buttermilk. Here at home, I use Maple View. It pours like liquid yoghurt and tastes delicious.)

2B. To the buttermilk, add pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and the four spices. Whisk together and taste. Adjust seasonings as you like. This mixture should remind you of pumpkin cheesecake, though perhaps not quite as sweet. You should be tempted to drink it with a straw.

3. Whisk in the melted butter.

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Photo credit: John Worster

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and blend, using a spatula or wooden spoon (not a whisk). You want to get all the dry ingredients moist, but you don’t want a smooth batter. A few small lumps are actually a good thing. Do not over-mix.

At this point, I let the batter sit for five minutes. I use the time to set up my griddle and get that warming. I also warm up my java, because I can never make these things without sampling one or two, and cold coffee just ruins the fun.

5. Hit your griddle or pan with a bit of oil or spray stuff like “Pam.” When it hits sort of medium-high, I use an ice cream scoop to place the batter on the griddle. Mixture should be relatively thick, like a thick cake batter, but it should spread slightly when you plop it on the griddle. I use a 4-ounce scoop (I think), which gives me a pancake 3 to 4 inches in diameter. (If you think your batter is too thick, mix in a tablespoon or two of whole milk until it’s a consistency you like.)

6. Cook a minute or two (the edges should start looking dry) and then flip over. How long they take depends on the temperature of your griddle, so you just have to keep an eye on them and adjust accordingly.  Be patient and enjoy the process. Sip your coffee. Nibble on a fresh pancake. It’s a Saturday morning, and you are standing at the griddle. Life is good.

Improv: in place of the pumpkin, substitute mashed banana, sweet potatoes, or apple butter.  In all cases, add this ingredient first and then adjust the sugar and spices according to your taste.  Have fun!

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