Sunday, October 9, 2011

Food: Gingerbread Pancakes

Here in Michigan Fall is revealing herself in stages. Leaves are starting to change on trees and shrubs with the maple behind our house showing hints of blazing scarlet at the tips (I'm looking forward to the show it will give us from our living room window right around my birthday at the end of the month). Bags of freshly picked apples and stacks of heirloom pumpkins are appearing at the local market.  Mums are in full bloom.  And in true Fall fashion, the weather has become indecisive as a weekend of cold is followed by a weekend of sunny, 78-degree warmth. 

Last week we started out the month of October with the warning of the passing of Summer. We were given cool and rainy days paired with overnight temperatures in the 40's (not to mention a Saturday night low in the 30's). A risk of a frost sent me scrambling to put sheets over the tomato plants that haven't yet stopped producing and move my tropical deck plants into the basement.  I didn't much enjoy the bitter wind this sudden coolness brought, or being forced to move the switch on the thermostat from A/C to heat, or bundling up to take Riley on an afternoon jog.  And removing some of the signs of Summer, like some of my huge, beautiful annuals that had suddenly become stressed and wilted in the cold, was somewhat bittersweet.  But the smell of crispness brought back memories of colorful leaf piles and hot apple cider and pumpkins.  So it finaly inspired me to get out my Fall decorations, and start to welcome the changing of the season. 

All this reluctant welcoming of change also made me crave warm food - especially dishes that contained a little more spice than usual.  So Saturday afternoon, I began leafing through old cookbooks and discover a book that I had used extensively as a college student.  Flipping through it, I found a forgotten favorite recipe which you may be I'm surprised I had lost touch with over the years.  Especially since I have such a love for/bordering obsession with ginger.  I was perfectly happy to bring this one back into circulation as what I had rediscovered was a recipe for gently spiced, gingerbread pancakes.  

It's amazing what a mixture of tangy buttermilk, satisfying whole wheat flour, zingy chopped candied ginger, and warm cinnamon can create.  What you get from this combination is an amazingly thick, dense pancake with a touch of spice and a slight chewiness.  Versus the typical buttermilk version, these are unusual because they're fantastic even without anything on top other than a touch of butter and their flavor is only enhanced by a piping hot cup of coffee.  Though, I will admit I did rather enjoy one with a dollop of apricot jam.   What a perfect way to celebrate a beautiful Fall morning.

Gingerbread Pancakes
Adapted from a recipe by Terry Blonder Golson (1,000 Lowfat Recipes)

  • 1 1/2 c unbleached, all-purpose white flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c buttermilk
  • 2 T chopped, uncrystallized candied ginger (MM Tip:  You can find this at your local Trader Joe's)
  • Beat together the eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and oil.  
  • In a separate bowl, blend together dry ingredients.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is moist but still slightly lumpy.  Add the candied ginger pieces to the mixture and stir to combine.
  • Preheat a skillet or griddle and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour each cake (1/4 c of batter) into the pan, and cook until bubbles start to burst on the surface.  Turn and cook until golden.
  • Note:  This recipe does make a relatively thick batter.  You can use the back of a spoon to spread out the pancake when you first put it in the pan.  You may also decide to add a little more buttermilk to thin out the mix if they are too thick for your liking.  
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