By guest blogger, Norah Burton
Norah Burton, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is a devout foodie. When she’s not working on her master’s in Food Studies from New York University, she’s creating new recipes and scouting out food and wine festivals.
Fall is absolutely my favorite time of the year. As colorful leaves float to the ground and the season transitions, so does my diet. The weather gets colder, and I move toward more bountiful and hearty dishes that evoke a warm cozy feeling. What better way to start off an autumn day than with a comforting breakfast bursting with the seasonal tastes of fall!
Comfort foods such as pancakes are so nurturing and help relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Taking trips to apple orchards  and pumpkin patches bears wonderful fruits for fantastic culinary delights. On these trips, I’m always sure to pick up a jar of pumpkin butter, which yields terrific “from scratch” pumpkin pies and pancakes.
I have experimented with many variations of pumpkin pancakes and finally settled on the recipe below, which is perfect for the morning after Thanksgiving or any other weekend brunch. Using a blend of pumpkin purée and pumpkin butter lends for a nice flavor contrast of savory and sweet. And notice the minimal amount of refined sugar in the recipe. Instead of sugar, the sweetness comes from the pumpkin and the dried cranberries.
The cardamom butter adds a nice twist to the recipe. Cardamom, a member of the ginger family, is one of the world’s oldest spices. It originates from the forests of Southern India. Ancient Egyptians cleaned their teeth with it, and Greeks and Romans used it as perfume. In modern times it is used as a sweet and peppery spice added to cakes, pastries, and breads, and is used in a savory fashion to flavor red meat and curry dishes. The butter is fantastic because you can freeze and save it to use in preparing various root or tuber vegetables. It adds a nouveau take on glazed carrots and spruces up a baked sweet potato. If you aren’t a vegetable lover, it’s delicious on a piece of cinnamon raisin toast, bagel or biscuit.
Here are a few tips for making great pancakes:
- Consistency: The batter is the perfect consistency when it smoothly spreads out on the griddle.
- Texture: Baking powder stirred into the flour and egg whites folded in at the end of making the batter yield a light and fluffy pancake.
- Non-stick: Remember to lightly grease the skillet or griddle with butter or a non-stick cooking spray.
- Flipping: When bubble holes appear on the upright side of the pancakes and the edges begin to dry and pull away from the skillet, they are ready to flip. Once flipped over, pancakes take half the time to cook on the other side.
- Storing: Pancakes are best served right off the skillet but can be stored while you finish cooking the remaining batter. For holding, I normally stack them on top of each other and store them in the microwave.
Other variations of this recipe include adding diced apples or chopped pecans instead of cranberries. You can also omit the pumpkin purée and pumpkin butter to make plain pancakes, but the pumpkin recipe will be sure to get you into the spirit of fall and the upcoming giving season. Bon appétit!
Pumpkin Pancakes with Dried Cranberries and Cardamom Butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar (divided: 2 tbs, 1 tbs)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder (aluminum-free, such as Rumford’s)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup pumpkin butter
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (canned or made fresh)
Large handful of dried cranberries (about 1/2 cup)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, ground cloves, cinnamon and salt. Add buttermilk, pumpkin butter, pumpkin purée, vanilla extract and three egg yolks. Stir quickly until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whip egg whites and 1 tablespoon sugar (electric hand mixer works best) until soft peaks form or mixture is white and frothy. Fold egg white mixture into the pumpkin batter. Fold in dried cranberries.
Heat a 10″ – 12” skillet (preferably non-stick) over medium heat. When skillet is hot, use a 1/3 measuring cup to spoon the batter into the skillet. Allow to cook on one side until bubble holes form and edges begin to dry and pull away from the skillet (about 6 – 8 minutes). Then, flip pancakes to cook on the other side for about 3 – 4 minutes more. Remove pancakes from skillet and serve immediately with honey cardamom butter (recipe below).
Honey Cardamom Butter
1 stick of butter softened to room temperature (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
Mix the honey and cardamom in a bowl, then fold in the butter. Use melon baller to scoop individual portions of butter on top of pancakes. Top pancakes off with 100 percent pure maple syrup or dust with powdered sugar (optional).