On Pumpkin Pancakes.

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These are dinner pancakes.

Oh, I’m sure Martha Stewart imagined them eaten the conventional way – with a cup of coffee on a lazy weekend morning.  But my family rarely abides by conventions (sleeping in on weekends be damned!) and so pumpkin pancakes with bacon and eggs became a regular Sunday dinner when I was growing up.  In fact, these pancakes have become my father’s signature dish.

How does one acquire a signature dish?

And how did my father get so lucky as to have pumpkin pancakes as his?

My father, you should know, worked at a diner owned by one of his three older brothers when he was a little bit younger than me.  He was an able line cook, and thus his skills in the kitchen are slightly above average and geared toward hearty American fare.  He enjoys being near a hot stove far more than my mother does, though I suspect this has more to do with the Gershwin tunes he chooses as accompaniment than anything else.  During periods of my childhood when my father was laid off, he would make the majority of the dinners in our house.  I can distinctly remember sitting at the dining room table scratching out solutions to math problems while the tinkling piano riffs of George and Ira floated in from the kitchen.  More often than not, I would find myself quickly finishing my homework in order to help.

These pumpkin pancakes were tried on a whim one evening in the middle of November and were such a success that the recipe hung on our refrigerator until age rendered it unreadable.  Luckily, by that time we had internet in our house (we were late to that particular game) and could reprint an aesthetically pleasing copy for my mother’s faded recipe book.  These are the pancakes you eat before you go on an outdoor adventure – dense and filling, with a creamy interior reminiscent of pumpkin pie.  Though we never did adventure further than our couch on a Sunday night, where we curled up in front of PBS to watch Antiques Roadshow before my mother sent us to bed.

I have very fond memories of Sundays.  And very fond memories of these pancakes.  I hope you will too.

Pumpkin Pancakes (via Martha Stewart Magazine, October 2006)

For a spiced breakfast treat, whisk 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt; 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg; and a pinch of ground cloves. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup milk, 6 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 egg; fold mixture into dry ingredients. Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat; pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side; serve with butter and syrup.

Makes 8 to 10.

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