Ask Chef Phyllis:
We stayed at the Pierre Hotel in New York City and ate the best gingerbread pancakes at their Café Pierre. Actually, they were the best pancakes we’ve ever had—hands down. I only get to travel to New York maybe once every year or two, so I’d like to have this recipe. Is that possible?
—Melissa and Bill Jenkins, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Breakfasting at the Café Pierre delights most visitors with a magnificent view overlooking Central Park. A special memory for both of you, I’m sure. While the gingerbread pancakes you mention are served year-round at the Hotel Pierre, I think they’d also make an especially wonderful treat on Christmas morning.
An interesting note on the history of this famous Fifth Avenue hotel: When the Pierre opened in 1930, the chef was none other than the famous August Escoffier. He created the entire menu, and his Gingerbread Pancakes are legendary today. Rather than use sugar, he sweetened them with freshly squeezed cloudy apple cider and sweet grated McIntosh apples from the Adirondacks. True to Escoffier’s original recipe, there is no added sugar here.
Cloudy apple cider is a seasonal product, so if it’s unavailable you may use any freshly squeezed apple cider or thawed frozen apple cider concentrate. Similarly, McIntosh apples are available only once a year, but any “sweet” apple, such as Gala or Winesap, can be used instead. My recipe also calls for white whole wheat flour, which is a type of whole grain flour made from white wheat.
Legendary Gingerbread Whole Wheat Pancakes
Chef’s Tip: The gingerbread batter may be prepared the night before and refrigerated overnight in a sealed container. In the morning, stir the batter. If it looks too thick, add ¼-cup apple cider.
The following recipe makes about 14 pancakes and serves 4 generously.
- 2 cups organic whole wheat flour, freshly ground if possible
- ½ cup organic white whole wheat flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon each salt and nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 1½ cups cloudy apple cider or 1 (12-oz.) can frozen unsweetened apple cider concentrate, thawed
- ⅓ cup butter, melted, plus more for greasing the griddle
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup freshly grated McIntosh apple
- In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and orange zest to blend.
- In a measuring cup, mix the apple cider with melted butter, eggs, and grated apples. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until well blended.
- Brush a large griddle set over medium-high heat with some butter. Working in batches, pour the batter by ⅓-cupfuls onto the griddle, about 2-inches apart. Cook until edges are golden brown, about 40 seconds, or until bubbles appear. Flip and cook the other side an additional 30 to 40 seconds.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Top each pancake with a pat of butter and serve immediately with organic Grade B pure maple syrup.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products