Thinking Inside the Box: Sweet Potato Flapjack Tuesday

Today is Pancake Tuesday (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras). I’m not exactly a religious person and I certainly don’t give up anything for Lent. I do, however, adore an excuse to eat pancakes.

I’m in the middle of my series What’s in the Box? Tips for Dealing with Your Weekly Organic Produce. I’ve therefore stayed inside the box and have added sweet potato to my favorite flapjack recipe: “Four-Grain Flapjacks” from The Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition: p. 644.

Why sweet potato? Because there were FIFTEEN of them in my most recent organics box. FIFTEEN! What do you do with FIFTEEN sweet potatoes? Unfortunately, this recipe uses only one of them but that’s one more than yesterday’s recipe did.

I’ve tweaked the recipe in other ways as well and I can’t tell you how much we love the results. I can tell you that last weekend when we tested these twice (two sweet potatoes down, woot! woot!), both times we ate them ALL. Sad because pancake leftovers are a wondrous thing (individually wrap them and put them in the freezer for quick and easy mid-week breakfasts. Just unwrap and microwave or put in the toaster to defrost and warm). But a good sign as far as developing a great pancake recipe is concerned.

Sweet Potato Flapjacks

Yields 14-16 pancakes

These are high-rising pancakes with a cake-like texture and a comforting pumpkin-spice flavor. You can use one large ripe banana (2 small ones) in place of the sweet potato (just don’t go microwaving the banana! It’s fine in the batter raw. Do mash it though).

  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 1/2 lb)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (uncooked oatmeal)
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp each of ground cloves, ground ginger, nutmeg and cardamom

(Leave out any of the spices that you don’t have, increasing the amount of the others slightly. Or, use 1 tsp total of pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon-cloves-ginger-nutmeg-cardamom combo.)

  • 1 and 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 eggs, whisked together lightly
  • squares of cold butter and more maple syrup to serve

Poke the sweet potato all over with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 2-4 minutes, until it yields sweetly to the tines of the fork.

In a large bowl combine the whole wheat and all-purpose flours with the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and other spices.

Use a pairing knife to peel the skin off of the sweet potato (protect your delicate hand from the potato’s heat by wearing an oven mitt). Place the flesh into a small bowl and use a fork to mash it until smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine the mashed sweet potato with the milk, melted butter, maple syrup and the whisked eggs.

Add the liquids to the bowl of comfortingly spiced flours. Stir briefly to combine (try not to over-mix the batter; everything just needs to be moistened). This batter yields high cake-like pancakes so don’t be worried if it seems thicker than normal pancake batter.

Preheat oven to 170F (This is optional. I do it to keep the pancakes warm so we can sit down together for a feast once they’re all cooked. I also pour some maple syrup into a heat-proof casserole dish and put it in the oven alongside the pancakes. This warms the syrup slightly making for a better butter-melter and a worse pancake-cooler. Transfer the syrup to a gravy boat to serve.)

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Ladle in 1/3 cup dollops of batter (spread the batter out slightly). Note that these pancakes have a tendency to brown (and then blacken) quickly. Check the undersides more often than you normally would. When the bottoms are lightly browned (2-ish minutes) flip the cakes and cook them for another minute or so, or until the bottoms match the tops.

Eat the pancakes as they’re cooked or place browned pancakes in a single layer on a baking sheet and transfer it to the warm oven. Ladle more batter onto the skillet, cooking as directed above. Continue making pancakes until there aren’t any pancakes left to be made.

Serve with cold squares of butter and drizzles of warm maple syrup.


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  1. #1 by abbyrex2323 on March 8, 2011 - 6:29 am

    Yum. Those look great. I love the idea of adding oats. I would really like that texture. I made pumpkin, blueberry, dark chocolate chip pancakes this weekend. Super yummy.

    • #2 by cookthestory on March 8, 2011 - 7:39 am

      Your pancakes sound awesome.

      Actually, you’d never know there were oats in there. I think once they’re moistened they actually add a bit of lightness and flavor but no chewiness at all.

  2. #3 by phyllis pittman on March 8, 2011 - 6:54 am

    They look awesome. I like the picture of the syrup pouring over on them. Well done.

    • #4 by cookthestory on March 8, 2011 - 7:39 am

      Thanks! I like that picture too. Especially with J sitting there patiently waiting for his pancakes. Too cute.

  3. #5 by Liz on March 8, 2011 - 10:52 am

    Oooh . . . I can’t wait to try these out. I love how you use whole wheat flour and oats. Also, I had never heard of adding maple syrup to the batter. Sounds delicious!

    • #6 by cookthestory on March 8, 2011 - 11:01 am

      You’d never know there was ww flour and oats in there either. They’re soft and fluffy, a bit cake-like.

      I think it’s probably the syrup that makes them brown a bit quickly. Note that even when ours are a bit dark they don’t taste burned. But still be aware of it. The recipe that I adapted this from (see details in the post) had honey in with the liquid ingredients. That seemed to have the same effect: browning sugar.

  4. #7 by Vinobaby on March 8, 2011 - 11:58 am

    These look divine. I never knew there was a Fat Tuesday & pancake connection. I was too busy trying to decide on a New Orleans themed dinner menu for tonight. I will have to try these this weekend.

    • #8 by cookthestory on March 8, 2011 - 12:14 pm

      I’m trying to figure out how I know about the connection. It might be a Canadian thing but it’s more likely from my husband’s family in England who eat pancakes (or something similar to pancakes, a cross between our cakes and crepes, I think) on this day. If you try them, let me know what you think!

  5. #9 by Dani on March 8, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    I adore oats in pancakes, and I’m sure sweet potatoes would be a delicious accompaniment. I’ll have to remember this recipe for the next time I have sweet potatoes, but they’re done here for winter so it will be the end of 2011. I had tons to use up back in January and you might want to check out this one recipe I tried. It was a big hit with kids and adults alike.

    • #10 by cookthestory on March 8, 2011 - 1:12 pm

      Your sweet potato recipe sounds amazing. I love the idea of a lime syrup caramelizing on the sweet carb. Thanks for the comment!

  6. #11 by Dinah on March 8, 2011 - 3:41 pm

    These look absolutely scrumptious. We love pancakes at our house and are always trying new varieties. I have made sweet potato ones but never with oatmeal. Guess what is on the agenda for Saturday. Thanks for the inspirations.

    • #12 by cookthestory on March 8, 2011 - 3:49 pm

      You’re welcome. If you try them, let me know how they turn out.

  7. #13 by Amy on March 8, 2011 - 7:29 pm

    Thanks for posting this! We had them tonight with banana and they were fab! I really enjoyed the cardamom. I was also wishing I had your nutmeg grinder.

    • #14 by cookthestory on March 8, 2011 - 7:54 pm

      You tried them?! Amy, thank you. That’s awesome. So glad you liked them. I love the cardamom with the banana even better than with the sweet potato. But with the sweet potato it’s still pretty great. Yes, that nutmeg grinder is special. One of my favorite ever kitchen gadgets. Thanks for reading, cooking and commenting.

  8. #15 by Katerina on March 9, 2011 - 2:12 am

    I would love to have these for breakfast. It is snowing here and there is nothing better than a loaded breakfast to start your day!

    • #16 by cookthestory on March 9, 2011 - 7:28 am

      I agree. That’s one of the things I most miss about snow: the excuse to get cozy and to eat cozy.

  9. #17 by secretmenu on March 9, 2011 - 4:08 pm

    I’ve made sweet potato gnocchi before, but flapjacks? Genius. I am totally making these.

    • #18 by cookthestory on March 9, 2011 - 4:30 pm

      Sweet potato gnocchi sounds brilliant. Do you use the same amount of sweet as you use regular potato? Are they a lovely peachy color? Sauce? Brown butter with sage is what’s coming to mind. Or maybe brown butter with a small small burning pinch of clove. Can’t wait to give it a try.

  10. #19 by kristy Moon on March 13, 2011 - 4:06 am

    I’ve got leftover baked sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, so I need to try this.

    In my house, I’m not sure if there will ever be such a thing as too many sweet potatoes. My kids LOVE them baked, and then the leftovers are so handy in breads, muffins, and now pancakes!

    • #20 by cookthestory on March 13, 2011 - 9:08 am

      It’s true. I’m learning just how versatile they can be. I haven’t actually baked very often with them but when I have it has turned out well. My favorite thing to do with them is to roast them until they’re browned and so so sweet.

  11. #21 by JG on March 14, 2011 - 12:41 pm

    Tried them on the weekend. Awesome! I often have baked sweet potatoes (much better in the oven than in the microwave, I find) hanging around in my fridge. I think what surprised me about these flapjacks/pancakes was the egginess of them so I didn’t think they were as much cake-like as they were french-toast-like. Also have trouble getting the inside of pancakes to cook (I know, pan too hot). But I’d say these, more than others, require one to spread them around because they’re not thin enough to spread on their own. And am always fascinated by how different it is making the last few than it is making the first few. Is it just the heat in the pan or something else?

    • #22 by cookthestory on March 14, 2011 - 2:28 pm

      So happy you tried them and liked them. I find that I have to cook these on medium instead of medium-high like most other recipes. And yes, spreading around a bit is a must. I tried diluting the mixture with milk and they worked but were not as fluffy which enhanced the wholewheat and oats in a not great way. Worth a shot if you like them a bit thinner. As to the difference between the beginning and end of a pancake batch, it’s a mystery to me. I used to think it was because of the butter residue in the pan slowly burning but now I make them without butter so that explanation doesn’t fly. It’s hard to imagine that the pan temperature is changing that much since you start by letting it heat for awhile and then add cool batter to it. But maybe having the heat against the pan so long does have an effect. It could also be that the batter is changing as it rests. Crepe batter needs to rest for awhile before you start cooking if you want the right texture so clearly something changes as flour and liquid rest together (the changes = absorption of liquid by flour and the relaxing of gluten). But whether there’s enough time for that to start happening and for it to have an effect on the pancakes or not, I don’t know.

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