These pancakes straddle the divide between sweet and savoury in the most delicious way. Top with avocado, sour cream, coriander and chilli if in a savoury mood, or with candied pecans and whipped cream if veering towards the sweet side. Or, for the ultimate in both, serve, as I do here, with bacon and maple syrup. Any type of pumpkin will work here, though the sweeter flesh of the butternut is ideal.
350g pumpkin, peeled and cut into 4-5cm pieces
50g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g instant polenta
200g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
60g unsalted butter, melted then cooled to room temperature, plus 50g extra, melted
50ml canola (or other flavourless) oil, for cooking
8 bacon rashers, cooked
1. Cook pumpkin by either steaming, boiling or microwaving until completely softened, then drain and mash to a smooth puree: you'll need 250 grams. Place the puree in a medium bowl, add the sugar and eggs, and whisk. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk again until fully combined.
2. Combine the polenta, flour, mixed spice, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, then sift together into the pumpkin mixture. Fold to combine, then mix in the 60g melted and cooled butter. Cover and refrigerate the batter for about 30 minutes (or up to two days).
3. Combine the 50g extra melted butter and the oil in a bowl and place near the stove.
4. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat and, when hot, dab some kitchen paper (or use a pastry brush) into the butter/oil mix and swipe over the hot pan. Using a small cup, scoop up some batter (about 80ml) and drop onto the hot pan. Spread the batter until the pancake is about 12cm wide. Cook for about 90 seconds – you should start to see bubbles appear on the surface and the bottom of the pancake should be lightly browned – then flip and cook for about a minute. Transfer to a baking tray and keep covered in a low oven, about 120C fan-forced (140C conventional). Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
5. Stack two or three pancakes on each plate, top with a knob of salted butter and serve with maple syrup and crispy bacon.
Tip: The batter will keep for two days in the fridge and you can freeze any leftover pancakes, layered with baking paper, for up to three months.