Gingerbread Pancakes

Hello, December! With Thanksgiving long behind us (until next year, pecan pie) I'm happily skipping towards my favorite holiday and preferred time of year -- Christmas -- hot chocolate, colorful lights, Frank Sinatra Christmas music and all. Here in Italy, the arrival of the holiday season is signaled by the arrival of the holy trinity of holiday sweets: panettone, pandoro, and panforte, which appear in droves in markets, bakeries, and stores seemingly overnight. Here's the breakdown: though the name of all three derive from the word "pane" (bread) their differences sort of end there. Panettone (literally "big bread") is a sort of cake/bread hybrid, topped with crunchy sugar and studded with controversial canditi (dried candied fruit, either you love 'em or hate 'em); pandoro ("golden bread") is a soft, yellow, buttery brioche-like cake that is baked until tall and sliced horizontally, creating start shaped slices that are served dusted with powdered sugar; and then there's panforte ("strong bread"!) which hails from Siena, a hardy, spicy, chewy sweet studded with nuts and dried fruit that could very well be the Italian cousin of British fruit cake. 

Sounds good, no? Something for everyone, right?

Yes, but also no! I don't crave golden, strong, or big bread around the holidays, but rather gingerbread. You see: Christmas for me is synonymous not with panettone, pandoro, or panforte but rather with the cozy, warming treat that I grew up eating in the U.S. Gingerbread was a wintertime staple for me, one that my mom often whipped up for breakfast or for an after-school snack (usually a dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkling of powdered sugar was involved, too -- you can see where I get it from). Spicy and gingery and cinnamon-y around the edges as it is, gingerbread never picked up speed here in Italy (most Italians I know are not great lovers of cinnamon or spice -- it doesn't play a big role in their desserts) but no matter! Armed with molasses my parents so kindly ferry to me on their visits (or cane sugar syrup, in a pinch -- easy to find at Castroni) I keep the gingerbread tradition going, as clearly evidenced on the blog. Take note! Since I started blogging in 2014, there has been one gingerbread recipe every December, in varying forms: classic gingerbread! dark chocolate gingerbread bars! gingerbread shortbread! gingerbread cookies! gingerbread cake! 

You get the point; it's not officially Christmas until I've had my gingerbread fix. 

So! This year I've combined my favorite holiday sweet with my very favorite breakfast of all time; ladies and gentlemen, I give you gingerbread pancakes. Where to begin?! These pancakes are, simply put, the whole holiday season stacked up and served with maple syrup, cozier than a winter jacket and scarf combined, the stuff of breakfast dreams. They're gingery in a way that will simultaneously coddle you but also remind you to wake up with a little kick of spice, and if you told me that these were an edible antidote to the winter chill and snow that my home state of Rhode Island is currently experiencing, I wouldn't question you. I will making and eating these well into Christmas and beyond, and I sort of think you will be too. 

Get ready: more Christmas-y recipes to follow!

A couple of notes: This recipe originally calls for lemon zest and the addition of fresh ginger (see below). I personally don't like fresh ginger and I didn't have a lemon on hand, so I left these two ingredients out and the result was marvelous nonetheless. I suspect that both ingredients help to brighten up the finished pancakes, but I like the dense cozy spiciness these provide -- if you don't add the candied ginger, up the amount of ground ginger slightly. I confirm that a few slices of thinly sliced pear or apple placed on top of these pancakes before flipping wouldn't go amiss, and I can also attest to the fact that this batter makes for lovely gingerbread waffles, too (proof below). Finally, these pancakes (or waffles) can be frozen and thawed in the toaster, too -- freeze them once they're cooked and cooled. 

Looking for other pancake recipes? I've got these cornmeal blueberry pancakes, these summer peach pancakes (which can also be made with apple or pear, to make them more seasonal,) these pumpkin pancakes, these classic chocolate chip pancakes, and these savory squash pancakes.  Looking for other gingerbread recipes? I've got these gingerbread cookies, this gingerbread shortbread, this gingerbread cake, these dark chocolate gingerbread bars, this pumpkin gingerbread cake and this gingerbread


Recipe from the NY Times. Serves 4. 

2 cups (256 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) whole milk
1/3 cup (80 mL) unsulfured molasses (not blackstrap)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (optional)
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a separate bowl, whisk milk, molasses, eggs, melted butter, fresh ginger and lemon zest until well combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently stir until combined. (A few small lumps are fine.)

Heat a lightly greased griddle or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Drop the pancakes into the pan by the quarter cup, making sure to leave plenty of room in between for the batter to expand.

Cook until the batter bubbles on the surface and browns on the bottom, a minute or two, then carefully flip. Cook until the batter is completely cooked through and the pancakes are slightly dark brown. Repeat until all the batter is used. Serve pancakes as you make them or keep them warm as you cook them by setting them on a baking sheet in a 250-degree oven.

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