Each year we take our fourth graders to Old Salem, a small village and living history museum in the larger city of Winston-Salem. On our tour, the students get to take part in a variety of activities using traditional eighteenth century methods such as cooking, painting, making pottery, and carding wool. This year we took our trip in the fall, and the students got to cook small pumpkin cornmeal pancakes adapted from a recipe from 1749. The pancakes were creamy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, slightly sweetened, and dusted with cinnamon sugar (which the docent pointed out would not have been traditional since sugar would have been an expensive resource).
The students loved making the pancakes, with each student adding a different ingredient to the mix, and the entire group took turns whisking the egg whites with a whisk made of small twigs. They cooked their pancakes, with the help of the docent, in melted butter in a spider pan over hot, burning coals. The students then had the opportunity to sample their creations along with a little apple juice from a cold pewter mug. Even though the pancakes are not overly sweet like snacks students are accustomed to today, there was not a single piece of pancake left on a plate in the end. The students enjoyed them, and I did too, and it was made all the more special by the fact that they created the pancakes themselves.
These pancakes are a perfect fall treat, slightly sweetened and spiced. We will be recreating them at home tonight. We will not be dusting them with cinnamon sugar but will instead drizzle them with a little warm maple syrup. A few slices of bacon will round out a quick and easy fall breakfast-for-dinner, and while I'm sure they won't be quite as tasty as they were prepared in an eighteenth century kitchen over hot coals, they will still hit the spot.
Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes- makes nine 3-inch pancakes or 4-5 larger ones
The recipe we were given at Old Salem stated that this was adapted from Peter Kalm's Travel Accounts, 1749. When the students made them, they made small three-inch pancakes, and we did not use all of the milk. I am including the recipe below as it was given to us.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
3/4 cup sweet milk
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Separate the egg. Beat the yolk until creamy and the white until the color of snow. Add milk, pumpkin, and yolk to the dry ingredients. Fold in the whites. Add more milk to make a thin pancake batter. Cook pancakes on both sides in butter until nicely browned. Serve hot sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.