Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet potato and pecan pancakes for Thanksgiving morning breakfast

I usually post recipes soon after I make them, so that any of the latest tweaks and improvements can be included. I haven't made this recipe for a few years, but I am posting it tonight since as soon as I make it tomorrow morning , we have to clean up and leave for Worcester, Massachusetts for an intimate Thanksgiving dinner with 50 of our favorite people. My daughter is home, however briefly, for Thanksgiving and I promised her I would make these pancakes, in part as an incentive to get her up and us on the road early. It worked as well for Harry and for Andrew and Bruce, friends who were staying with us. Besides, they are fabulous and worth making even if you don't have a long awaited guest to feed, and they will hold you to the main meal later.

Sweet potato and pecan pancakes

  1. Bake a large sweet potato at 350 degrees for about 1 ½ hours or until very tender. Cool, peel and mash. You will need about 1 ¼ cups for the pancakes. This is best done the night before. (Any leftover sweet potato is fine as long as it dosen’t have too much seasoning.
  2. Sift together 1 ½ cups flour (you may include up to ½ cup whole wheat if you want, but don’t overdo it along with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.
  3. Put the sweet potato puree in a separate bowl. Add ¼ cup melted butter (ideally) or vegetable oil, 2 beaten eggs, and 1 ½ cups milk. Stir until you have a smooth puree.
  4. Stir the moist ingredients to the dry ingredients, about 1 cup at a time. Don’t over mix or over beat. The secret to good pancakes is that the batter should be lumpy rather than smooth. If it looks to wet, as a bit more flour.
  5. Stir in about ½ cup of chopped toasted pecans, and a few gratings of fresh nutmeg. Let the batter sit a bit while you heat your griddle on medium heat. I find nonstick or impeccably seasoned cast iron works best, though I use nonstick since I can never keep my cast iron seasoned impeccably.
  6. When the griddle is hot, grease it very lightly (remember, these are cakes and they are baked, not fried, even if it is on top of the stove) with butter or oil.
  7. Drop tablespoons of batter on the griddle. Bake until bubbles begin to appear and it looks a little dry around the edges.
  8. Flip the pancakes and cook on the other side until done.
  9. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

My wife claims that her mother used to warm maple syrup and butter together for her brother. My mother in law disputed this until they day she died. (She said that she did it for both of them.) I think that melting the butter in the syrup is excessive -- better let each person to put each on in the proportion they want. However, warming the syrup is a nice touch, and if the butter is at room temperature, it won't cool down the pancakes too much.

You can also make this with sliced slightly underripe bananas, but add a bit more flour because they are a bit moister. I frankly like it better without.

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