Pumpkin! The symbol of fall. I had the idea in mind to make pumpkin pancakes recently and when I went to the grocery store here, I was surprised/delighted to find canned pumpkin imported from America! That was, until I saw the price. As is often the case with imported products in Thailand, they are outrageously expensive. And at $6.00 USD a can, I decided I would make my own pumpkin puree this time around.
Thai pumpkin is readily available and very cheap at local markets. I got enough to make two cups of puree (a little more than a can's worth) for less than a dollar. However, it's not quite the same as North American pumpkin, but similar to what we would call Kabocha squash in the U.S. Its essentially gigantic Kabocha, or Japanese pumpkin. So that's how I know this recipe would be infinitely adaptable with pureed North American pumpkin, butternut squash, kabocha squash, or even sweet potato if you are looking for a creative way to use those fall vegetables up this season.
Chinese five spice is an amazing addition to the pumpkin. Recipes can vary slightly, but the constants are usually fennel seed, clove, star anise, and cinnamon. Traditionally, the fifth ingredient is Szechuan peppercorn (sometimes referred to as Chinese Coriander), but I’ve seen blends that include ginger root, black peppercorn or traditional coriander instead. Chinese five spice has all these amazing notes that fire off all at once when you smell or taste it— a little sweet, a little spicy or warm, a little licorice. Even though it is traditionally used in savory & meat dishes, to me, it's the Asian equivalent of mulling spices or gingerbread. So I thought It would go great paired with something that gave me all the fall feels, like pumpkin. And now it's a combo we are going to keep around for a very long time.
I recipe tested these a few times, and one of the times I wanted to experiment with a possible egg-free recipe because I know quite a few people personally with an allergy. The pancakes in the video below where the syrup is continuously pouring were the egg-free batch! They came out just as delicious, but just slightly more doughy and dense, which is to be expected without the eggs to make them more fluffy. I made a note in the recipe below how to make the egg-free version as well.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
1 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Chinese Five-pice powder*
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs molasses
1 cup pumpkin pureè
1 1/3 cups milk
4 Tbs butter, melted & cooled
WHAT YOU'LL DO
Combine the first five dry ingredients in a small bowl. Mix with a fork or whisk and set aside.
Next, in a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, and molasses until thoroughly whipped. Then mix in the pumpkin puree, followed by the milk.
Add the flour mixture to the wet, stirring gently to combine with a soft spatula but not overworking the batter. While visible streaks of flour and clumps still remain, add in the melted butter and mix just until incorporated. Pea sized clumps in the batter will probably still remain and that’s okay. Over-mixing the batter makes pancakes chewy but you want these to be fluffy!
Allow your batter to rest for 5 minutes for the rising agents to do their thing. Meanwhile preheat your skillet or griddle on medium heat.
Spray or butter your skillet, and then ladle out a heaping 1/3 cup of batter at a time into your skillet (I can fit two pancakes at a time in my 12-inch skillet). When risen and bubbling at the surface, flip your pancake and cook for another 1.5-2 mins on the other side.
Transfer to a warm oven (I set mine to 180 degress F) to keep warm while you cook the rest of your pancakes.
Serve with butter and real maple syrup, if desired.
*Five spice can be found at most grocery stores, but I recommend getting it from an Asian grocery if you want the most authentic, fragrant version. Also make sure the blend is salt-free, or the salt qualities in the recipe will be off.
**For an egg-free version, simply omit the (eggs, obvsies) and baking soda, but instead increase the baking powder to 1 Tbs and the milk by another 1/3 cup.
Makes roughly 12 pancakes about 4-5 inches in diameter.