T he seasons are once again changing. The leaves are now being shaken off the trees and falling to the ground in a rainbow of brown, orange, and yellow. The temperature begins to plummet; scarves are now adorned in addition to gloves and mitts. Autumn had arrived from long ago, but, now finally makes its presence known with arms bearing gifts of plenty.Autumn has to be one of my favorite seasons mostly due to the food and scenery. I thrive in browns, oranges and rich reds. I love apples, pumpkins, and the more ‘hardy’ root vegetables that come into play about this time of year. There is no need for me to explain my fascination over the plump orange fruit known as the pumpkin. In fact, this recipe was redone for a request to be added to a newsletter for the season. Pancakes are only one option for a pumpkin product; just wait till I get to the bread and cupcakes - mm! Pumpkin, along with a few other pureed fruits such as applesauce, bananas, etc. can substitute the majority of the fat within the recipe. That's why there is so little nondairy margarine in the ingredient list. In fact, if you use a higher fat milk product then you can omit the butter all together and, if you use a really good nonstick pan, you don't even have to grease it. It is the little things in watching fat content that count especially where it won't matter. Omitting oil, butter, or margarine from a recipe, without something to take its place, isn't a good thing. You'll loose flavor and structure since, as I informed a customer at the store, gluten free products are reconciled by fat for flavor and conformity. For example, a pound cake without fat will be dense and dry because a major component to the pound cake is butter. With fat, the cake becomes fluffy and moist; more pleasant and edible. Around Virginia - at least here in the bible-belt district - a lot of gluten free products aren't cheap nor easy to come across. Well, scratch that. They just aren't cheap.
You have to hunt for a good bargain and specific products. There's about three-four nutritional stores in Lynchburg that provide "Whole Food" like ingredients, but unfortunately, they're three times the price. I suppose if you're desperate enough, you'll purchase them but I'm a major penny pincher and, therefore, I won't succumb to the masses. What do I do? Ironically enough, Walmart sells soy flour at a very reasonable price, along with the cornstarch. The almond flour I get from my workplace, Culina, which is reasonably priced for the amount provided as well as the cream of tartar and he agave nectar. The flaxmeal is found at Kroger, as is the xanthan gum which will always be expensive; however, with the xanthan gum, you only need a 1/4 tsp to 1 tsp in most recipes so that goes a long way. Just remember to store them either in the freezer or a dry cool area in a tightly sealed container to maintain activity and freshness.
If you don't like pumpkin, you can most certainly substitute the puree with bananas or applesauce. In fact, make the base, divide and make two different kinds. Adjustable recipes are fantastic. Be careful when you're cooking these, too. The exterior will cook faster than the interior and that usually applies to most pancakes. My advice is to trn down the heat from high and cook longer. The result should be a fluffy, soft and autumn-y feel. Okay so you really can't taste October, but if October did have a taste, this recipe would be one of them.
Autumn Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes ½ cup soy flour ½ cup cornstarch ¼ cup almond meal 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp xanthan gum 1 tbsp flax seed meal ¼ tsp cream of tartar ½ tsp cinnamon ½ tsp all spice ¼ tsp ginger
2 eggs, beaten 1 tbsp agave syrup, sorghum syrup, or honey ½ cup pumpkin ½ cup water ½ cup nondairy milk (Try hemp in this one!) ½ tbsp melted nondairy butter ½ tsp vanilla extract ½ tsp rum extract (optional)
Sift all the dry ingredients together (the flours, starches, powders, and spices) and stir well until combined, taking care of any lumps that may appear. The almond flour tends to make lumps. Next, add the eggs, syrup, pumpkin, milk, water, extracts, and butter. Stir until a thick batter is formed. It should flow, yet, not like a traditional pancake batter.
Heat an 8” skillet and turn it down to medium high. Spoon enough of the batter into the pan to coat the bottom. When the edges become firm and loose luster as well as many bubbles appearing on the top, flip the pancake. Each side will take about three to four minutes on medium high but still keep an eye on them.
Serve with syrup and pan fried apples for a real treat!