Good grief, where has this year gone? It honestly passed like lightning, 2014–I swear I’m still stuck somewhere in June and I still haven’t digested half the things that have happened from March. While I’m stuck in this confused whirlwind of having the rug of time pulled out from under me and trying to figure out how the heck have 11-nearly-12 months passed so fast, Christmas is creeping up too! While this time of the year is absolutely lovely and festive and full of cheer, it’s also one packed full of thoughts running into each other left, right and centre–your mind goes absolutely busy while you’re thinking back on the whole year, planning Christmas shopping and activities, and you’re trying to soak in the Christmas feel too all at once. It can be overwhelming, but everything is better with some pancakes.
Pancakes are the ultimate comfort for me and these would make for an excellent Christmas morning breakfast–warm, hearty, and cute to boot! I made these the previous year and made some adaptations this year, along with officially publishing the recipe–hopefully it looks better! While showing the two side by side to my friend she started laughing so hard she bent over in mirth because she said “they just look like they’ve grown a year older!”. Sigh.
The pancakes are soft, fluffy, and are packed with creamy pumpkin. They’re pleasantly spiced with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Warming spices and pumpkin go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly. I use a fairly heavy hand with the spices because bland pumpkin recipes are icky, and because I’m a cinnamon fiend. Not that I’ll ever try, but I had my initial skepticism about the cinnamon challenge (where people eat a spoonful of pure cinnamon powder) because I was quite sure I’ll be able to swallow the stuff…I guess it must be awfully nostril-chokingly spicy though, judging from the few videos I have stumbled across. I still go to town when adding cinnamon spice though. That stuff is good.
The panettone part of the pancakes come from additions that hopefully give a recognisable mimicry of the familiar flavors produced by the traditional enriched sweet dough bread, golden spiced and richened with butter and eggs and run through with chunks of candied citrus. Coconut butter, candied orange peel, sultanas soaked and plumped with fresh orange juice and the spices along with vanilla bean paste and almond extract give a Christmas, traditional side to the simple canvas of buttery sweet pumpkin. It made me think of the stollen-bread a local bread company made and that we used to eat frequently, even without it being the festive season. Granted, the stollen wasn’t authentic–there was no almond paste running through the middle, and no icing sugar dusting; but it was amazingly delicious for a chain produced loaf. The mix of candied peel and plump, soft dried fruit chunks threaded through the subtly spiced white dough was something incredibly addictive to my childhood self.
And if you should so choose, you could make it Santa and Rudolph style! This would definite appeal to kids, or the kid in you, or both–there’s a sort of pleasure you get with stabbing Santa between the eyes with a fork. Too graphic? Yeah, sorry. I promise I’m not some sort of Santa axe murderer. But in all honesty, it’s great fun, looks super cute, takes little effort and makes for an impressive pancake platter. With kisses of Greek yogurt (or cashew cream, tofu mousse, or whipped coconut cream if you’re dairy free) for Santa’s beard and the fur trim lining his hat and a pretzel stick broken up to form Rudolph’s antlers, it makes for quite an effective and edible caricature of some of the most classic figureheads of the Christmas season.
Now that I’ve moved from my childhood home and that I’m significantly older, I do realise how important the passage of time is. I remember past Christmases, days that started off with chilly rain and turned the marble tiles cold to the bottom of my feet, and had us curled cozily on the couch unwrapping presents in our pyjamas while the Jim Brickman Christmas song CD played. Endless mugs of chalky warm Milo with too much powder than was strictly necessary, thick and malty and chocolaty. Christmas trees, fake and real, adorned with scratchy tinsels and on one occasion salt dough ornaments that we made, painted, and wilted into soft mush in our humid heat. It was a beautifully golden time, and I’m still remembering new things everyday. Hopefully this Christmas things would be just as close to my heart. How are you spending the festive season, friends? Do you have any fond Christmas memories with families or friends?
pumpkin panettone pancakes
You will need:
-a handful of sultanas, soaked in the juice of 1/4 an orange
-1/2 cup flour (I used spelt and wholewheat, you can use buckwheat, brown rice, all purpose and more)
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
-1/4 tsp nutmeg, or to taste
-1/8 tsp allspice, or to taste
-1 tbs coconut sugar
-2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax+6 tbs water left for at least half an hour)
-1/2 a large banana, mashed
-1/4 cup pumpkin puree (I steamed pumpkin and then mashed it)
-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
-1/4 tsp almond extract
-zest of 1/2 a small orange
-140ml plant based milk of choice
-1/2 tbs coconut butter (or 1 tsp coconut oil)
-2 tbs candied orange peel
For the character pancakes: raspberries/strawberries, Greek yogurt/cashew cream/tofu mousse/whipped coconut cream, melted dark chocolate, pretzel sticks
Soak your sultanas in orange juice. In a small bowl, mix together your flour, raising agents, spices and coconut sugar. In a larger bowl, whisk together your banana, pumpkin, flax egg, vanilla, almond, orange zest, coconut butter and plant based milk until combined and then add your dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined, adding a little more plant based milk to loosen if required–it should be slightly thicker than your average pancake batter, but not dough-like. Fold in your candied orange peel and soaked sultanas and set aside while you heat your pan on low heat. When the pan is hot enough such that a drop of water hisses and evaporates immediately upon contact, grease the pan and make your pancakes. Once the edges dull, flip them over and cook till the underside is golden brown.
If you choose to make the Santa and Rudolph pancakes:
For the Santa, scoop about 1/2 cup of batter onto the pan into a round circle. Use a small spoon and create a triangle hat-shape over the top of the circle with more batter. Let that cook until the edges dull and small bubbles appear and flip it over. Cook until the underside is golden brown and remove.
For the Rudolph, add 1 tsp cacao/carob or 1/2 tbs cocoa to the remaining batter. Scoop about 2/3 of the remaining batter onto the pan in a round shape. Reserve a little batter and cook the remaining 1/3 of the batter alongside it. Once both pancakes are done, cook the remaining batter in a mini-pancake.
For assembly, melt 1 to 2 squares of chocolate. Position halved strawberries or raspberries around the triangle-top of the Santa pancake to form the hat. Fill in Santa’s beard and the fur trim of his hat with either Greek yogurt, tofu mousse, cashew cream or whipped coconut cream–I piped mine with a star nozzle for effect, but you could just spread it on. Dot his eyes with the melted chocolate and add a round slice of strawberry or a small raspberry for his nose! For Rudolph, position the 1/3 pancake over the 2/3 pancake till it looks like his face and is to your liking, and then cut away the overlapping portion of the smaller pancake (which you can snack on!) Fit the trimmed larger pancake and the smaller pancake together. Take the mini pancake and cut out Rudolph’s ears and attach those to the top of his head with a little melted chocolate. Draw on his features with the chocolate as well, add a slice of strawberry/raspberry for his nose, and snap off portions of pretzel stick for his antlers.