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
- Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, allspice and salt in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry and whisk until smooth.
- Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, and then fold them into the batter.
- Pre-heat your normal pancake-making pan over a medium high heat and melt some butter or vegetable oil in it.
- 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.