Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes

I am finally, officially on maternity leave and boy, does it feel good. The last few weeks of work were beyond hectic and tiring but I had more than enough work to see me through to the end, and some I'm still finishing up at home. I can take up to a year of leave (even if I don't get paid for much of it), and being an American-abroad who knows plenty of friends who only get 6 weeks/a couple of months off, I haven't lost sight of how lucky I am to have a few weeks to rest and relax before the baby arrives (I hope). T-minus a-bit-less-than-3-weeks, and the hospital bag is packed since baby really can come any time now.

To celebrate my first morning of not having to go to work (even if I still woke up at 6.45, as I normally do), I made myself a breakfast of something more than shredded wheat biscuits mashed up with banana. If we owned a waffle maker, I would have indulged in some waffle action; instead, I pancaked myself up. Not your average pancakes for me, though. This being a dreary autumnal day on which I was celebrating the ability to take afternoon naps (for a couple of weeks) and not to do my hair and make-up (which I'm told stops being a luxury after having a baby and becomes a source of shame), these pancakes were going to be tarted up a bit.

In what could have been a section of a self-help book called How to Pick Yourself Up When the Weather is Grim and You'll be Laying Around in Your Pajamas All Day, I found a recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes in a breakfast book a friend had given me ages ago. Pumpkin pie is part of the holy trinity of Thanksgiving to me, along with turkey and the Macy's parade, but I'm also keen on
using pumpkin in other things when it's in season. Working pumpkin into a breakfast seemed like a glorious gift from the breakfast fairies as well as a way to warm up my pumpkin tastebuds for Thanksgiving next week.

The pancakes stayed a bit soft even after they were fully cooked, pushing the pancake slightly in the direction of actual pumpkin pie. I would have preferred them to be more cake-like, since it's the texture of pancakes that is a much a feature of their glory as the taste is. I had been eager with my pumpkin,
though, which did throw off the texture so I can't blame the recipe (yet) for the squishiness. Also for the next time around, I will play with the sugar and spice content a bit more since I'm happy to stand my pumpkin up against stronger allspice and nutmeg flavors to have the pancakes be firmly on the sweet rather than the savory end of the spectrum. I served the pancakes with a bit of crumbly sugar topping and maple syrup, which to me was the only way to properly embrace these creatures.

I'll certainly be trying the recipe again with the tweaks I mentioned, though the recipe below is reproduced from the original for those purists out there.

Pumpkin Pancakes, from The Big Book of Breakfasts
makes around 16 decent-sized pancakes

  • 1 C flour
  • 1/4 C cornmeal
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 C milk
  • 3/4 c canned pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3 Tbs melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, allspice and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and whisk until smooth.
  4. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, and then fold them into the batter.
  5. Pre-heat your normal pancake-making pan over a medium high heat and melt some butter or vegetable oil in it.
  6. Pour desired pancake-sized batter amount into the pan, and turn once small bubbles appear along the surface of the pancake. Cook for half the amount of time again.


Joanna said...

Enjoy these lovely days, and make sure you take plenty of time to pamper yourself ... so lovely to have a baby coming


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That is wonderful to have some time to luxuriate in the anticipation of baby!
And the pancakes seem perfect!
Enjoy and joy to you Annemarie!

Jules said...

How time has flown! Enjoy your maternity leave.

Lisa said...

I've really been enjoying pumpkin lately and these pancakes sound delightful. I like that you use cornmeal too. Take care.

Kari said...

I'm also an American living in London, also about to go on maternity leave (I'm T minus five weeks right now) and also very, very glad to be having my baby here rather than back in the US where I would have gotten six weeks paid leave. And I love pancakes and pumpkin. And I subscribe to the RSS feed for your blog. So I mostly just wanted to say hello and good luck and thanks for the recipe!

Annemarie said...

Hi Joanna- Thanks - I'm still in enjoyment mode (and somehow avoiding getting sucked into all those day time talk shows). A victory on both counts!

Hi Tanna - Thanks for the wishes, I do feel very lucky. :)

Hi Jules - Oh how it has. Thanks. :)

Hi Lisa - Pumpkin is fabulous. There is enough lazy person's canned pumpkin about these days, but I'm happy rolling up my sleeves and roasting/peeling/squeezing the water out of it too in order to get its goodness.

Annemarie said...

Hi Kari - How nice to hear from you! I hope your maternity leave has started now and that you're also in luxurious lady-who-lunches mode. I'm spending more money on coffee and lunches now I'm on leave than when I was at work! Do feel free to be in touch directly if you ever find yourself with a free day and no coffee morning booked in for yourself. :)

Kari said...

Thanks, Annemarie. I may well take you up on that!

All the best!

Cynthia said...

Take as much rest as you can before the little one gets here.

white on rice couple said...

How amazing you are, waking up that early and pregnant! I know that I would be in bed till....noon??!! :D

This is a breakfast that we have to try! I've got a few pumpkins waiting for me...

Sorina said...

I like the sound and look of this. I shall mark this on my to do list.

BOb LaGatta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stop Smoking said...

The pumpkin pancakes are one of the best discoveries on this great blog.

Inne said...

hi Annemarie,
where in London did you find canned pumpkin? Or do you have friends and family smuggle it over from America?

Annemarie said...

Hi Inne- You can get canned pumpkin in supermarkets with decent American food sections. Selfridges always has some, but it will be more expensive than others. Waitrose/Ocado often has pumpkin (depends on the branch) and when they do I stock up. There's also Rosslyn Hill Deli in Hampstead though I've never specifically checked their pumpkin stock, as well as Partridge's on Duke of York Square (Sloane Sq area) though I've also never been in. Happy pumpkin hunting!