When the haze of summer has retreated into memory I can start looking forward to the crisp mornings and cosy evenings of the cooler months. October often boasts fresh, crystal blue skies as a backdrop for its warm, earthen hues; a colourful feast for the senses as I relish the crunch of autumn leaves underfoot and the first traces of wood smoke on the air. This transitional month allows me the first few pleasures of winter as I tentatively nestle into my scarf and wrap both hands around my coffee cup. Starry nights mean cold mornings with dustings of frost and the muffled rub of gloved fingers. When the days are dull and cloudy we are all given licence to hunker down, dig a blanket out and take it slow, the frenzy of social summer afternoons behind us.
As the evenings begin to darken you’ll find me in the kitchen, wooden spoon in hand and a fresh pot of tea on the counter. My baking behaviour shifts back towards comfort, meaning loaf cakes, rustic breads and plenty of spices. In the kitchen it is particularly gratifying to work closely with the cycle of nature; to embrace an abundance of seasonal produce and incorporate these unique ingredients into cooking and baking.
Pumpkin is synonymous with the month of October; a popular symbol of Halloween and all things ‘spooky’. However, this humble gourd is more than just lantern fodder, it is a seasonal delicacy and it shouldn’t be overlooked. It is a versatile vegetable, as delicious sprinkled with cinnamon sugar as it is with chilli oil and salt. It’s soft, orange flesh makes an excellent baking ingredient due to its sweet, starchy qualities; I like to roast and purée a big batch and have it on hand to add subtle flavour and moisture to cakes and savoury bakes.
The next few posts will feature my pumpkin baking adventures, starting with a pile of sweet, spiced, American style pancakes. These are hearty and full of energy; perfect fuel for tramping through the woods and kicking up Autumn leaves.
Cinnamon Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes
100g pumpkin pureé
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. soft brown sugar
20g melted butter
100g plain flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
extra butter for frying
- Measure the pumpkin, egg, vanilla, sugar, melted butter and buttermilk into a bowl and whisk.
- In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together into a batter. Loosen with a splash of milk if necessary, it should be thick but easy enough to dollop and spread in the pan.
- Cover and allow the mixture to sit for 20 minutes (or even overnight in the fridge).
- Melt a little butter in a heavy-based frying pan.
- Drop tablespoonful’s of the mixture into the pan and spread slightly, allowing plenty of room between each pancake as they will spread slightly. Keep the heat medium, allowing the pancakes time to cook through without burning.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes until bubbles begin to appear on the surface, then flip and continue cooking until lightly golden.
- Serve with maple syrup and a little crème fraiche.