Spooky pancakes, perfect for Halloween morning!
I think we’ve all had this experience once or twice in our lives when we take a recipe we love, something classic and simple – say, pancakes – and make one or two minor changes to discover something incredible. I fondly remember the first time I stirred a spoonful of peanut butter into my morning oatmeal… just like that, a new favorite! For me and pancakes, the revelation was with pumpkin. A scoop of pumpkin puree, and a dash of spice…
I’ve made a lot of pancakes, but these are some of my favorite. The recipe calls for milk and vinegar – a common substitute for buttermilk – but I find it’s even better. Using the vinegar I can control the amount of acidity, and because it’s thinner than buttermilk I don’t need as much. Also, I rarely have buttermilk on hand. A friend of mine used to use this technique, and man did he make some fine pancakes!
To make the Jack-O-Lantern faces, or other patterns, I simply put the batter into a squeeze bottle and piped the design onto the griddle. Triangles for eyes, the mouth… once those had cooked through, I poured more batter over the top, then flipped. This is an easy technique, but might take a few tries to get the temperature of your pan right and the timing of your flip down. Those first few failed flapjacks (say that ten times fast!) are what I like to call my tip for making breakfast, because I get to eat while I finish cooking.
With the fun, spooky faces, these pancakes would make a great start to Halloween morning. Without the designs, they make a great start to any morning. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Pie Pancakes (Jack-O-Lantern Flapjacks)
Makes about 10-15 pancakes
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon*
1 tsp. nutmeg*
1/2 tsp. ground ginger*
pinch of cloves*
2 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (make your own, here)
4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
Chopped pecans, or walnuts, or chocolate chips, to taste
Maple syrup, butter, whipped cream, etc., for serving
*Or substitute 1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice. If you prefer your pumpkin pancakes plain, go ahead and omit the spices all together.
To keep finished pancakes warm until serving, pre-heat oven to 200f.
In a glass measuring cup or bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Set aside to sour while you prep your other ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, salt, and spices if using. Try to make sure there are no clumps of brown sugar.
In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined – the batter will be lumpy, but that’s okay. Over-mixing will cause tougher, gummier pancakes.
Place your griddle or skillet over medium-low heat – if you’re making the jack-o-lantern flapjacks, you don’t want the batter to cook too quickly and burn while you’re still making your design. If your using a non-stick surface, do not grease it. If you do oil your pan, use very little.
To make the jack-o-lantern faces, pour some of the pancake batter into a plastic squeeze bottle, or an empty (and thoroughly cleaned) ketchup bottle or the like. Onto the griddle or skillet, squeeze two triangles for eyes, and make a mouth; or, draw a spider-web or other design. Once the batter begins to look dry on top, pour or squeeze more batter over your masterpiece. Because your drawing was on the heat first, it will cook longer and turn darker than the rest of the pancake. If you’re using nuts, chocolate chips, or other add-ins, sprinkle a small handful on top of the pancake just before flipping. Cook until bubble just barely begin breaking on the surface, and flip your flapjack to reveal your design! Let cook for another minute or so, or until the underside is lightly browned.
Troubleshooting: If the batter in your squeeze bottle is too thick, you can add another tsp or two of milk. If lumps in the batter are clogging the nozzle, you may need to cut a wider opening at the tip. If you pipe your design, and then the image moves around on the pan when you pour more batter on top, your griddle has too much grease on it – wipe it off with a paper towel and try again. If you plan on piping words into your pancakes, remember to write them backwards on the pan, since the image will be mirrored once flipped.
It might take a pancake or two to get a feel for how long to leave the batter on the pan to get the right color on it, and you may need to adjust the heat depending on your stove top.
Place cooked pancakes onto a plate or tray, and place in the warm oven until ready to serve.
Serve with fresh whipped cream, maple syrup, or garnished with more nuts or chocolate chips. Enjoy!