Although I get pretty weary of the pumpkin madness that hits the universe come October — I’m looking at you, Starbucks — there are two things I'll make an exception for: bread pudding and pancakes. And since this post is clearly not about bread pudding, let’s talk about what we like to call “Pum’Cakes" around our house. Yes, they're so good they got their own name!
I first discovered pumpkin pancakes at The Griddle Cafe, a famous Hollywood eatery in a town not usually known for things such as pancakes. I am usually a savory breakfast kind of girl, but hey, when in L.A., do as the Angelenos do.
So I ordered from "the griddle” at The Griddle, and it was a choice I wouldn't regret. What arrived on my plate was a triple stack of the largest, fluffiest, pumpkin-est hot cakes I've ever seen. As if that weren't enough, they were smothered in powdered sugar, slapped in butter, and finished off with a mountain of whipped cream. The calories were worth it, but these pancakes might also explain the popularity of SoCal juice bars. (Roll me to one, please.)
And so my love affair with pumpkin pancakes began. I have ordered them at restaurants and even attempted them at home, dabbling with amounts and ingredients over the years. They have always been pretty good, but never quite “The Griddle” good.
Until now, that is. I finally decided to put my head down and get serious, and I hope you’ll be glad I did. Perfecting the pancakes meant more than a few cans of pumpkin and a heck of a lot of pancakes, but it was a small price to pay and I was more than willing. At first glance these won’t seem much different than any run-of-the-mill pumpkin pancakes, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve:
All of the dry ingredients are whisked together per usual, but I combine all of the liquid ingredients in a blender — to make it a bit more like pumpkin pie, if you will. You don’t risk overworking the batter by adding the flour, but you still get plenty of silkiness and spice.
My second trick is to fold in the egg whites at the end, a trick I learned right here on The Kitchn. (Thanks, Dana!) It really does help yield a supremely lofty pancake. And my last insistence is to cook the cakes on a sizzling cast iron griddle with a healthy glug of oil. They get a little bit caramelized and a little bit crispy — the ultimate breakfast bite.
So there you have it, my idea of the quintessential pumpkin pancake. I think L.A. definitely got this one right: 'tis always the season for Pum'cakes!
Pumpkin Pie Pancakes
Makes 10 pancakes
2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 3/4 cups buttermilk, preferably whole
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (I prefer Libby)
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Canola oil (or another other neutral oil), for cooking
Powdered sugar, maple syrup, butter, and whipped cream, for serving
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and spices in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Combine buttermilk, pumpkin puree, egg yolks, and vanilla in a blender and process until well combined. Fold the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until almost combined, but with a few clumps of flour still remaining. Stir the reserved egg whites into the mixture until just combined. Allow the batter to rest for about 10 minutes while preheating the skillet.
Preheat a large cast iron skillet or griddle on medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of canola oil. When the oil is very hot and shimmery, add 1/4 cup portions of batter to the pan, pressing it out with the bottom of the measuring cup to help it spread out a bit. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and a bit crispy, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and continue cooking until done, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more. (I like to do a small test pancake to adjust the temperature before cooking the remaining batter.) Re-heat the griddle before cooking additional batches of pancakes.
Serve the pumpkin pie pancakes with a heavy dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of maple syrup, a slap of butter, and a pile of whipped cream.