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Video: Nigella’s perfect pumpkin pancakes

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    >>> this morning in "today's holiday kitchen," chef nigella lawson , the best-selling author, has written a new cookbook sure to spice up your holiday entertaining with some simple, yet sinful, recipes.

    nigella christmas: food, family, friends and festivities." hi, nigella, good morning.

    >> good morning to you.

    >> it sounds like fun. how much do you love christmas?

    >> i just love it, i suppose. if you like to be surrounded by people and talking and you love food, it's kind of your time of year.

    >> exactly.

    >> so, it's tailor-made for my particular passions.

    >> and one of the things that sometimes in all the wrapping of things we forget about is really how to make the christmas breakfast so special. and you've got this fantastic recipe, and ps, it's also healthy, because it's got sweet potatoes in it.

    >> you know, i think a lot of food -- i mean, my view always with food is if you're using real ingredients, it's healthy. what's not so healthy is food that doesn't really bear any relation to the sort of food stuffs that a stuffs our ancestors would have known about.

    >> exactly. now by sweet potato , you mean pumpkin, right?

    >> it's pumpkin, but anything orange is good in that way.

    >> and we're putting in?

    >> buttermilk.

    >> buttermilk. why do you use buttermilk?

    >> because i think the buttermilk and the sweetness of the pumpkin really adds something. i think balance is very important, not just in food, but in everything, you know. it really makes a difference.

    >> so, this is a recipe if we want to try to achieve balance. i'll work for you here if you want --

    >> well, you can do the flour.

    >> now we put the flour in. by the way, you're putting that directly into the wet mixture, but you can just dump this or do you have to go slowly?

    >> well, do you know what? everybody will tell you you have to go slowly, but in the end, you whisk until the lumps are out and it doesn't matter. okay, come on. i haven't got the patience to go slow skrrks we only have a couple minutes in the broadcast.

    >> and sugar.

    >> uh huh .

    >> and then baking soda , baking powder , and you just, in the end -- i won't carry on because i'm going to put flour all over you and i love your top too much.

    >> thanks, nigella.

    >> and in the end --

    >> it looks like that.

    >> it's so beautiful. i always think if you consider regular pancakes, they're like a blanket. when you eat these, it's like a comforter.

    >> and they smell good when they're being cooked as well. a nice little aroma --

    >> this is a horrible noise. it's like people used to -- when i was at school, people used to put, you know, their fingers on the blackboard. there they are. that one needs a teeny bit longer.

    >> i think we didn't get give you the best griddle, but --

    >> no, no, it's perfect.

    >> and there's a plate of them. now, this is what you put on top of them, right?

    >> okay, i'm coming over, and this is what i put on top of them, which i love. these are pecans, which are toasted first in a skillet, just so the full nuttiness comes out.

    >> just simple, without anything? just oil?

    >> no, no oil. because nuts have --

    >> oil anyway.

    >> -- oil anyway. then i douse them a bit in maple syrup and carry on cooking until the syrup almost crystallizes and gives them almost like a candy.

    >> and they're very pretty.

    >> aren't they lovely?

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> and so then --

    >> then.

    >> then it's just --

    >> then it's just.

    >> so easy. it's just a question of adding some of these gorgeous pecans.

    >> mm-mmm.

    >> see, i think maple syrup is, again, like a natural sugar. i mean, it exists like that, therefore, it must be good for you.

    >> of course, it is!

    >> it's an antioxidant.

    >> speaking of antioxidants, look at this salad you've come up with.

    >> yes, wow.

    >> well, my feeling is that we tend to overindulge in the holiday season , and if you have a bit too much to drink -- you see, i prefer to get my medication in food form. so, instead of going to a health store and getting tablets, i have, you know, antioxidants there in the salad.

    >> this is great. and what are we drinking here?

    >> martini.

    >> perfect.

    >> there you are. there's your balance. nigella lawson , thank you so much this morning.

    >> thank you.

    >> happy holidays.

    >>> coming up, some lucky laid ease from our plaza get a ambush makeover .

TODAY recipes
updated 12/4/2009 10:23:17 AM ET 2009-12-04T15:23:17

Festive food — and plenty of it — is an essential part of any holiday tradition. Nigella Lawson covers this in her new cookbook, “Nigella Christmas.” Here, she offers recipes for soft, downy pumpkin pancakes and a “spruced-up” vanilla cake.

Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes with Sticky Maple Pecans (on this page) Recipe: Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake (on this page) Recipe: Antioxidant Fruit Salad (on this page)

From “Nigella Christmas” by Nigella Lawson. Copyright (c) Nigella Lawson 2008, 2009. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes with Sticky Maple Pecans

Although these pancakes are perfect for a brunch with a party feel, to be honest, I feel they can be eaten at any time. Add a little ice cream or whipped cream and you have a pretty fantastic supper-party pudding, too.

What I like about them particularly is that without too much of an initial shopping expedition you can be sure you have the wherewithal to make these as and when: maple syrup and canned pumpkin puree are stashed in the store cupboard; buttermilk has a pretty long life in the refrigerator, or you could simple add a teaspoon of vinegar to ordinary milk and let it stand, souring, for five minutes or so before proceeding.

And these are special. Pumpkin pancakes are to ordinary breakfast pancakes as a comforter is to a blanket. The sweet pureed flesh blends with the sour tang of buttermilk to make a pancake that is fleshy and downy and supersoft. You could, of course, eat these any way you so wish, but topped with pecans that have been tossed in a hot pan with maple syrup and doused with more maple syrup, is the best way I can think of.

It’s probably easiest to make these before people appear and just stash them, covered loosely with foil and interleaved with parchment paper, in a low oven (say 250F), for 45 minutes to an hour.

  • For the pumpkin pancakes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (see margin note below)
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin purée (or 2 cups homemade)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • For the sticky maple pecans
  • 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups pecans
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more for pouring over pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes
Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk until frothy, then add the pumpkin puree and whisk again.

Beat in the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, whisking until you have a smooth batter. Or just put everything into the blender, together, and liquidize.

Heat a heavy-based skillet or flat griddle, and pour in the oil. Wipe away any excess with kitchen paper, taking care not to burn your fingers, so that the pen is very lightly oiled. Any more than that, the pancakes will burn.

Using a 1/4-cup measure, pour small amounts of batter into the pan or onto the hot griddle, gently coaxing them into 3-inch-diameter circles.

When bubbles form on the top of the pancakes, flip them over. (You’ll have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your skillet or griddle. I get 4-5 on my griddle comfortably at any one time.)

Cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then transfer them to a plate, and keep warm with a layer of aluminum foil over the pancakes.

This amount of batter does make a lot, but the pancakes are not very big, and will keep well under the foil until you have finished making all of them. And they’re so good for when you’ve got people staying that it seems a pity to make fewer (and you can always freeze any leftover pancakes).

Sticky maple pecans
Toast the pecans in a large, hot, dry frying pan.

When the pecans are warm and smelling nutty, spoon the maple syrup over, stir to coat them and keep sauteing them in the pan until they are stickily, glossily coated.

Take the pan off the heat, and as you serve the pancakes, sprinkle each plate with a few sticky pecans and pour some maple syrup over the top.

Serving Size

Makes approx. 30

Recipe: Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake

This is a sleight of hand, or a trick of equipment rather than an act of brilliance. True, the cake does look incredibly complicated and seasonally impressive as it comes to the table, but that is all down to the shape of the pan. It’s an expense to get a pan that can’t be used all year round, but it really is a beautifully Christmassy creation, and a breeze to make.

The “spruced up” of the cake refers to the Holiday Fir pan I bake it in; at other times of the year, I call this Eggy Vanilla Cake and cook it in a regular 2 ½-quart bundt pan, as you can now, too. Whatever the shape, and with either a fruit salad or a mixed berry compote, it is one of the my proudest creations. And the thing is, it doesn’t need just to be brought out as a festive flourish for a supper party, but can be satisfyingly baked and left to preside grandly over the kitchen, commanding anyone to have a slice, damply plain, or toasted, by way of a seasonal treat.

To turn this into Spruced-Up Spice Cake, even more seasonal and just as good, but with less appeal to children, halve the vanilla and add 2 teaspoons each of ground cinnamon and ginger and a half teaspoon of ground cloves.

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) soft butter, plus more for greasing (or use non-stick baking spray such as Pam)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and put a cookie sheet in at the same time. Butter or spray your large, regular or fir-tree shaped bundt pan very, very thoroughly.

Either put all the ingredients except the confectioners’ sugar into the processor and blitz together; or mix by hand or in a free-standing mixer as follows:

  • Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of flour.
  • Fold in the rest of the flour, and add the baking soda, yogurt and vanilla extract.
  • Pour and spoon the mixture into your greased pan and spread about evenly.

Place the pan on the preheated cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until well risen and golden. After 45 minutes, push a cake tester into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Let it sit out of the oven for 15 minutes.

Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the pan with your fingers, then turn out the cake, hoping for the best.

Once cool, dust with the confectioners’ sugar pushed through a small tea strainer, to decorate: Think fresh snowfall on the Alps.

Serving Size

Makes about 12 slices

Recipe: Antioxidant Fruit Salad

This combination of mango, pomegranate and blueberries — names not entirely ironically to take account of fashionable medico-dietary concerns — is probably my favorite fruit salad of all time. It is sensational, at any time, and I often serve it alongside the Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake (recipe above) or as a dinner party dessert. But it is a crucial part of this or, I rather think, any brunch. I’m certainly not suggesting you make everything altogether every time, but I’d never leave this out.

  • 4 cups mango cubes (I buy containers of ready-diced mango, totaling 1 3/4 lbs in weight, but if you’re using whole mango, you’d probably need 3 large or 4-5 small ones)
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds (I buy pomegranate seeds in containers, you need 5 oz in weight; otherwise, we’re probably talking 2-3 pomegranates here.)
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice

Put the mango cubes into a bowl and tumble the blueberries and pomegranate seeds in after them.

Squeeze the lime juice over the fruit, mix everything together gently, and taste to see if you want to add more lime juice before serving.


Tip: If you’re using a whole mango, to dice, stand the mango on its end in front of you and, using a sharp knife, score vertically through the skin all round. It should then be easy to peel off the skin from one half. Now, cut through the peeled half of the mango, right to the pit, in lines down, about 1/2 inch apart; do the same across. Then, take your knife and press it down, sliding it right against the pit so you feel it scrape the pit, thus letting the dice you’ve scored through tumble out. Do the same — messily — with the other side. If I can do this, it really doesn’t require any great dexterity, trust me.


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