How do I love pancakes? Let me count the ways. I love pancakes, first and foremost, because they give me an excuse to eat cakes for breakfast. Or dinner. Secondly, nothing makes me giddy like the sight of a plate of pancakes, piled high. Leisurely mornings are celebration-worthy occurrences, are they not? They deserve pancakes. Lastly, I love fluffy, whole wheat pancakes like these because they hold me over until lunchtime, unlike donuts or pastries. Hold the pastries, pass the pancakes.
I haven’t been able to get these carrot cake pancakes off my mind since I saw them in the Joy the Baker Cookbook. I really love Joy the Baker. Why? Because one day she posts cheesecake, and the next, kale and quinoa cakes. She bakes birthday cakes for her cat, Jules, and then unabashedly tells the world about it. Even Cookie doesn’t get birthday cake. Plus, her hilarious podcasts keep me company while I work at home. I pretty much feel like we’re friends, so when she published her first cookbook, I had to have it immediately. It is, as the cover says, a celebration of butter and sugar, but these pancakes stood out because they’re low in both of those ingredients and still incredible.
Joy’s recipe was not my first attempt at making carrot cake pancakes, but her recipe turned out perfectly whereas the first recipe left me with fat, chewy pancakes. In my first attempt, I used my food processor to grate the carrots but it didn’t grate the carrots finely enough. The pancakes ended up sort of dense and almost crunchy. It makes sense if you think about it, because the carrots in actual carrot cake have over 30 minutes to break down in the oven but pancakes are cooked for less than 5 minutes.
The carrot conundrum was the one thing keeping me from making these pancakes, but lo and behold, Deb of Smitten Kitchen posted Joy’s carrot cake pancakes along with her carrot grating advice. Deb suggested grating the carrots by hand with a fine grater instead of using the food processor, which didn’t quite satisfy me but got me thinking about other potential solutions. (Hand grating requires far more energy than I possess before breakfast.) I had a few ideas on how to bypass the problem, and fortunately my first attempt using the easiest method worked great. I used my food processor’s grating blade to grate carrots as usual, and then I swapped in the all-purpose blade and pulsed the carrots a few times. Voila! Finely grated carrots made with minimal effort.
Considering that two of my favorite food bloggers love these pancakes, I was not surprised to find that I do, too. They are decadent and delicious, while being full of carrots and in my version, whole grains as well. What’s not to love? I suggest you make them this weekend.
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons packed Muscovado sugar or brown sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 6 big or 8 smallish carrots)**
- Butter, for griddle
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons milk (more or less depending on desired consistency)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dash of ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit so you can keep the pancakes warm before serving. Spoon the cream cheese into a bowl and leave it out at room temperature to soften.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, Muscovado/brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla.
- Stir in the carrots, then dump the wet mixture into the dry mixture all at once. Stir just until incorporated. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes while you make the cream cheese topping and preheat your griddle/skillet.
- Whisk the cream cheese in a small bowl until it is uniformly soft and pliable, with no lumps. If your cream cheese is not soft enough yet to do this, try zapping it in the microwave for just a few seconds at a time. Whisk in the maple syrup, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Feel free to sweeten with more syrup or further thin it out further with more milk. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, melt a big pat of butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle. Pour a scant ¼ cup batter into the hot pan, using the measuring cup to pat the batter down and out a bit. Cook, flipping once, until the pancakes are golden on both sides.
- Place pancakes on an ovenproof plate and keep in the oven while you cook the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed. Top with maple cream cheese and serve with extra maple syrup on the side, in case someone wants to sweeten it up further.
- Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook.
- Yields 11 to 12 medium pancakes.
- These pancakes freeze well!
- *Make your own buttermilk by combining 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let it sit for 5 minutes then proceed as directed.
- **If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, grate the carrots using the grating attachment. Then replace the grating attachment with your regular multipurpose blade. Pulse the carrots up to 10 times, until they are finely grated finely but not mush (see photo above).
- Pancakes cooked in cast iron skillets taste the best, just saying. Get yourself one!