Down the Rabbit Hole: Carrot-Cake Pancakes

A crisperful of carrots recently sent me looking for this post from last March, but I guess I must’ve inadvertently deleted the original somehow when I was doing some blogkeeping.

This was one of my favorite finds of 2014, though, so there was no way I was going to let it just float off into the ether. 

I got lost for a few hours the other day. I was on my couch. And then I was in France. And then I was in Albuquerque.

My inbox held notice of a new entry at Smitten Kitchen for Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew. On a cold February day, that’s pretty solid click-bait for me, especially since that week’s Omnivore Share had included a pound of stew beef.

Halfway through Deb’s post, though, I realized that exactly two years ago I was actually in Cognac, which was our post-red-eye first stop on a whirlwind tour of seventeen farms in twelve days.

Breakfast of champions
Cognac Jean Fillioux: Because nothing cures jet lag like five snorts of high-end brandy.

That memory sent me to my desk to fish out a flash drive containing a 1000-plus frames from the trip, during which three colleagues and I snaked, sipped (and sometimes spat) our way from Cognac, through Bordeaux, Gascony, Cahors, Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence, and the southern Rhône, ending with a polar-bear plunge in the Mediterranean.

Valras-Plage, in the way, way off season: pre-dunk liquid courage and post-dunk down jackets required.

An hour-and-a-half later, already pushing my luck to get to work on time, I closed out of iPhoto and landed back at SK’s stew recipe. One of my favorite features of is that, post- every post, Deb highlights what entries were in the top slot on that date for each of the last seven years. Hey—lookee here!—two years ago: Carrot-Cake Pancakes.

Oops. Back down the rabbit hole.

Carrot Tetris
What’s the collective noun for bunches of bunches? My winter-season CSA came out of the chute with five straight weeks of deliciously sweet carrots.
Carrot-Cake Pancakes

I faithfully followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, which was adapted from Joy the Baker’s. Makes about a dozen 4-inchers. Fry them all up; leftovers reheat nicely in a 350º oven.

For the Pancakes
Bonus CSA points! The Daisy flour was early-season, unexpected, pantry-item treat.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 ground ginger
  • small handful chopped walnuts
  • small handful raisins (I used golden)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (I used a box grater)
  • butter, for griddle
Three good-sized carrots yielded two packed cups of fine shreds.

Put the first nine ingredients (everything before the egg) in a large bowl. Whisk them together. Put the egg, brown sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Whisk. Stir the carrots into the liquid ingredients first. Then stir that wet mess into the dry, just to incorporate and eliminate any real dry pockets.

Orange goo
When you scoop these wet ingredients into the dry, resist the urge to overmix.

Let the batter hang out for a few minutes while you prep the topping.

For the topping
More milk will land you on the glaze side of the spectrum; less, on the frosting side. Your call, obviously.
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • couple shakes of ground cinnamon

Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Blend in the powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of the milk. If it’s too thick for your liking, add a tad more milk.

Schmear, topping, frosting, icing, glaze. Whatever. This stuff is addictive. Reminds me of the icing on last Thanksgiving’s butternut cupcakes.

Put it together

Preheat the oven to 200º. You’ll want to work in small batches, so keep the first cakes warm on a sheet pan or foil while you fry up the rest.

Get your griddle (or a large fry pan) to medium hot. Plop in a dab of butter and spread it around to coat. Scoop a spoonful of batter for each cake into the hot pan. Keep them small (the batter can get a little runny in a larger format), and don’t crowd them—three or four per batch is good.

Fry until golden on both sides (about three minutes for the A-side, two minutes for the B-side). Transfer cooked cakes to the oven while you finish up the rest, adding a little more butter for every batch.

Serve warm with a schmear of the topping. And keep the bowl handy.

You’ll probably want to put that frosting on everything—but note that the pancakes were great with a drizzle of maple syrup, too.

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