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Oh hey fall. Meet breakfast. These pumpkin pancakes are bringing all the warm and cozy to the table.
I’m an east coast girl. As much as I adore the west coast (and I really, really do), there’s something about living on the east coast, specifically the greater NYC area, that I just can’t shake. I grew up in upstate New York and I remember a trip I took with my mom to the city when I was 12ish. I was deep into a Beatles (or specifically a John Lennon) phase and desperate to find posters and any vintage paraphernalia I could get my hands on. We made our way through the village and wandered through Washington Square Park when I was stopped in my tracks by a long haired, semi-dirty, very handsome guy strumming the guitar. He played Neil Young, a little Joni, and a Beatles tune. I was smitten.
As we listened to him play and sing, my mom took one look at my face, shook her head and said “You’re going to live here one day aren’t you?” I couldn’t nod fast enough. There was no turning back. New York City was officially in my blood.
And live there I did. Post college and pre any reasonable amount of money required to exist, I somehow managed to secure a job and scrape enough together to pay the rent, buy maybe a pair of shoes and survive on pizza and adrenaline. Because, truth be told, the city was my sustenance. I realized that I was more comfortable walking alone down the streets of Manhattan at 1 am than I was taking out the garbage at 9 pm at the house where I grew up. I’ll take nocturnal city wildlife any day over raccoons and skunks. And even though I’m officially suburban now, it’s no less true today.
After a few years in Manhattan, I moved to the bay area and it’s a move for which I’ll forever be grateful. In so many ways, relocating to California was the best thing that ever happened to me. I made forever friendships, learned what it means to get out of your comfort zone and it inadvertently propelled me into culinary life. But as much as I relished the time spent in California, when the fall rolled around I always got a little depressed.
Depressed when it was sunny and 75 everyday you say? Waaaaah! But I was. I missed the crunch of leaves under my feet, the vibrant fall colors, the aroma of roasted nuts when I stepped off the subway. I realized that I require brisk temperatures at Thanksgiving and the smell of firewood burning in the fall. Life just didn’t feel right without it and after a few years we moved back.
So (and if you made it this far thanks for the long leash), this is my ode to fall. Big, spicy, fall flavors, and of course, pumpkin. I’ve made us pancakes that taste like pumpkin pie and smell just like the season. These pumpkin pancakes take me back to lazy brunches in the city, broken-in Frye boots, and cozy sweaters. Brilliant yellow and orange tree lines, mugs of warm cider and all of the squash and root veg.
These pancakes are fall to this east coast girl. They are a heartfelt farewell to summer and sand, a hello to fall and flannel, and they help to ease me into parkas and chapstick. These flavors, tastes, smells, somehow make me take stock of my life. Fall is gritty, it’s bumpy, its fickle. It’s the east coast reminder of appreciating the now, before we run for cover from the impending snow and ice. It’s the warm and spicy before the the cold and icy. And for better or worse, for me it’s home.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- dash of ground cloves
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 eggs. lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 Tbsp butter melted and slightly cooled
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
In a large bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, milk, eggs and vanilla. Lightly mix in the melted butter and fold the wet ingredients into the dry, being careful not to over-mix. The batter will be slightly lumpy.
Heat a griddle or cast iron pan over medium/high heat.
Scoop out batter using a ⅓ cup measuring cup and pour onto the hot griddle, spreading just slightly into rounds. (Adjust the heat as needed so the pancakes do'n't brown too quickly.)
Once the surface of the pancake begins to bubble, carefully flip each pancake and continue to cook until the underside is golden-brown, about 2 minutes.
Place the cooked pancakes onto a baking sheet and hold in the oven until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining batter until all pancakes are made. Enjoy!