Halloween is an amazing blend of history, superstition, tradition, and culture. It is simultaneously a time a celebrating life on Earth while honoring those who have passed beyond Earth’s shadowy borders. People have been using pumpkins as a symbol for this holiday for centuries – carving and lighting them as a symbol of the transition between fall and winter, life and death.
Countless thousands of pumpkins have been harvested and sold in the previous weeks, but starting on November first the questions turn to: What do we do with them now? Some pumpkins will have turned soft or moldy, and are best suited for the compost pile. But many more are still firm and perfect for holiday eating.
Now is the time for me to state my bias: I love pancakes, and I’m not afraid to say so, and so I think that pancakes are the perfect place to put that Halloween pumpkin the day after.
Here in America, the majority of pumpkins of the Halloween variety are grown for size and shape, and not for taste. In fact, both the taste and texture usually pale compared with some of pumpkin’s other squash cousins like the butternut, the acorn or even that “Japanese Pumpkin” the Kombocha. With this in mind, I think it’s perfectly acceptable, even advisable, to mix your squash varieties for greater complexity of flavor.
I mention this in the recipe to follow, but it’s important to say it again here – the consistency of your squash when cooked can vary greatly depending on a thousand factors, and so this is a recipe that requires a willingness to tinker and play until you get it right each time. Please, don’t feel a need to be exact.
Enjoy for a nice weekend brunch before you sneak off the grab that bag of candy you have hidden away in your room!
Winter Squash Pancakes
2 cups winter squash – from pumpkin, butternut, acorn, etc.
1 ½ cup whole milk
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup butter, melted
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
For the squash puree, cut a whole squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down in a baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes, until a fork pierces easily. Let cool. Scoop out of the skin and mash with a fork to a thick paste.
Beat the liquid ingredients with a whisk or a large fork until frothy. Mix the squash in to the wet milk and egg mixture.
Sift the dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Slowly, fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Mix thoroughly until no chunks of dry flour remain.
This is one recipe that needs adjustment to compensate for variations in the pumpkin or squash consistency. Depending on the texture of the squash, you may need to adjust the amount of milk until the batter is smooth and not too thick.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
Photo: Mark Johnson, photographer and pumpkin-carver