By Ryan McKay
Sunday’s are fun days at the firehouse. For a very busy station with much to do on the weekdays, the weekends are a sacred event. We break away from the monotony of checklists, computer screens, and training schedules to recharge and fellowship. This break also includes turning away from salads for breakfast and fish for dinner up to and including welcomed comfort food. Enter pumpkin pancakes.
Pumpkin has become synonymous with fall, my favorite time of the year, but almost to the point of absurdity. I don’t think there is a thing that Starbucks won’t add pumpkin too these days. Despite this craze, I still wanted to celebrate the flavors that inspire cooler days, sleepy Sunday mornings, and football. What better vehicle to use then pancakes?
A few after the fire critiques: The pumpkin doesn’t have to be reduced in a pinch; it just helps rid the batter of excess water. I bloomed the spices in hot oil, browned butter here, to awaken the essential oils thus increasing their impact and I recommend this for all ground spices. Lastly, I also added the spices to some syrup to continue the spiced theme. If you truly love your crew, whip the butter with the spices too.
Pumpkin Puree (1 Can)
Buttermilk (2½ Cups)
AP Flour (2 Cups)
Tbsp. Sugar (3 Tbsp.)
Baking Powder (2 tsp.)
Baking Soda (1½ tsp.)
Salt (1½ tsp.)
Cinnamon (2 tsp.)
All Spice (¼ tsp.)
Nutmeg (¼ tsp.)
Ground Ginger (¼ tsp.)
Butter (4 Tbsp.)
Place the sauté pan over medium heat and place the butter in and melt till slightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Place the cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, and ginger in the butter and bloom for 30 seconds. Reserve half in another small bowl to cool. Add the pumpkin puree and mix till combined. Cook stirring often until slightly reduced and darkened, 8-10 minutes. Remove to another bowl and reserve to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in and mix till combined.
In another large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree and eggs and mix till creamy. Add the buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour and mix gently until just brought together. Do not overwork the batter. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes or while the griddle warms up. Add a dollop of neutral oil to the griddle and using a paper towel, cover the entire griddle with the oil. Wipe off the excess. Using a ⅓ measuring cup, pour the batter to form 6 pancakes at a time. Cook until small bubbles start to appear or the bottom begins to firm up, 3-4 minutes. Yes, you can use a spatula to take a peek; these aren’t hard rules, just guidelines. Flip and continue to cook until done, another 2-3 minutes. Use a knife or toothpick to pierce the center of the pancakes to ensure they are done if you are unsure. Stack in a single layer on a sheet pan covered with a towel in a slightly warmed oven until ready to serve. Top with a pad of butter, some spiced syrup, and indulge!
Ryan McKay is a 13-year fire service veteran and a firehouse cook from Atlanta, Georgia. His goal is to bring the fast-paced lifestyle of the fire service with the slow-paced art of cultivating family and crew through the tool that is food. He has made an appearance on NBC’s primetime show “Food Fighters,” is a co-founder of the Metro Atlanta EMS Conference, and works intimately with the SafePath Child Advocacy Center.