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Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007 02:44 am

Mmmm . . . pancakey

When breakfast is inspired by Pee-WeeÂ’s Playhouse

Untitled Document We were four undergrad gals in the mid-’80s, sharing a three-bedroom apartment while studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Sarah introduced me to coffee — Maxwell House brewed automatic-drip-style, served with one teaspoon of Coffee-mate and one Sweet ’n Low. In return, I introduced the girls to Saturday-morning pancakes. Inspired by the Paul Reubens movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, a bizarro world in which Abraham Lincoln flipping pancakes onto the ceiling was possible, I would wake up (often hung over), put on my ugly green bathrobe, and whip up banana pancakes just in time for another episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Reubens’ hilarious weekly show that aired on CBS. Ten years later, I would make banana pancakes for my roommate Christopher almost every Sunday, and then after another 10 I started making some kind of flapjack for the man who would become my husband. It has been my experience that no matter what time of year or day, or whom you serve, a pancake breakfast is always received with a childlike enthusiasm that elicits a near-Pavlovian response, a yearning for simpler pleasures, such as watching cartoons in your pajamas. We all need a pancake breakfast now and again to keep us regular and real in the way that only children are wired to do on automatic pilot. Every season needs a pancake: Spring means strawberries, summer means blueberries, and autumn means pumpkin, as in that can of purée left over from Thanksgiving. Faced with unexpected drop-in breakfast guests one recent Saturday morning, I asked myself what Pee-wee and his “King of Cartoons” would do, and suddenly the walls began to speak: “Mmmm . . . pancakey.”

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.
Pumpkin Pancakes Inspired by West Coast Cooking, by Greg Atkinson
1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional) 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt One egg 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup canola oil (or equally neutral-flavored oil) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/4 cups pumpkin purée, fresh or canned 1/4 cup liquid — apple cider, milk, or soy milk Oil or oil spray for cooking pancakes
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In a larger mixing bowl, whisk the egg with the brown sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until combined. Whisk in pumpkin purée. With a rubber spatula, incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Do not overmix. The batter will likely be thicker than the average pancake batter; gradually add liquid if necessary. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat and add oil or apply a thin coating of spray. With a tablespoon, drop batter onto surface of pan, forming circles about 2 inches in diameter. Allow the pancakes to cook for about three minutes or until the first side is golden brown. Flip each pancake and cook the other side, using a slotted spatula to flatten the pancake for even cooking. Remove the pancakes from the pan and place them on a plate or baking tray in a warm oven while you continue to cook. Serve with good-quality maple syrup. Suggested toppings: sliced ripe Bartlett pears, applesauce, apple butter, and chopped pecans or walnuts. Makes 10 to 12 2-inch pancakes.
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