Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pancake mix with apple cider syrup and candied walnuts: A gift from the kitchen for #SundaySupper

A friend mentioned that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away (at least here in the United States). I was shocked. And perturbed. Really perturbed. Not panicked. No, not yet, but I won't deny that I am a little annoyed that the holidays crept up on me like that. Again. Every year, I think, "Next year will be different. I will be organized, on top of things, efficient, effective, and stress-free." Ha! Yeah right.

Oh well. Time to start thinking and planning and making it all happen. But I've grown sick and heartweary of stuff. I've hit the mall a few times recently and found myself overwhelmed (and a little depressed) by the choices, the glitter, the tack, the endless push for a more wonderful holiday than anyone else or ever before. Every year, I find myself in a spiral of anxiety in which I seek the perfect holidays, beautifully and completely decorated, with an abundance of perfect gifts. And every year, I wind myself up more and more and spend more, far more, than we should, ending up with a lot of stuff and a lot of regret. I am ready to get off that ride. It's making me a little sick.

One way to make the holidays more meaningful is to make gifts. Homemade gifts may not be as pristine and glittering and cool as storebought gifts, they may be a bit clunky and lumpy, but they feel good to make. Of all the gifts we can make and give, gifts from the kitchen are often most appreciated. The receiver can enjoy them immediately, and they leave little to no clutter. (Speaking of clutter, here's a lovely poem on that topic from Saideh Pakravan, a member of my freelance networking group.)

One of my favorite gifts to give is a special breakfast, in this case homemade pancake mix with apple cider syrup and candied walnuts. None of the components is hard to make (although the apple cider syrup does take a lot of time); the most difficult task will be figuring out a nice way to present them. Here are the ingredients you will need, the instructions, and the instructions you will write down so the recipient can make the pancakes.



  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (you can substitute with all-purpose flour if you like)
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 2 Tbsps granulated sugar
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt


  • 1 gallon fresh apple cider (preferably from the farmers market; I am a big fan of Beechwood Orchards' cider because they use a blend of apples, which means the cider isn't too sweet)


  • 2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon



Part 1: Combine the ingredients in a lidded box. Close the lid and shake the box vigorously. (By the way, you can double, triple, or quadruple this recipe and keep it stashed in your freezer for your own pancake breakfasts.)

Part 2: Write these preparation instructions down for the recipient of your gift:

  1. For 3-4 servings, combine 1 cup pancake mix with 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 egg. 
  2. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter on a hot, buttered griddle and cook each side until golden brown. 
  3. Serve with apple cider syrup and candied walnuts. 


  1. Pour 2 and 1/2 cups apple cider into a large stockpot. Measure the depth of the liquid with a spoon or something similar. 
  2. Add the rest of the apple cider to the pot. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the temperature to a slow simmer. Let it simmer and reduce for 5-7 hours. 
  3. In the last hour, start checking on it more frequently, because it's quicker to overreduce when it gets closer to the end. When you've reached the depth you measured, the syrup is done. Let it cool and pour it into jars. It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. 


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat (I could use some of those for Christmas, hint, hint).
  2. Lightly chop the walnuts, if they aren't chopped already. 
  3. Combine the maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon in a thick-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Stir frequently so that the syrup doesn't burn. Let it thicken a bit (about 5-10 minutes). 
  4. Add the chopped walnuts to the syrup mixture. Stir until the nuts are completely coated and heated through. 
  5. Spread the nuts out on the baking sheet and break them apart if needed. Let them cool. Don't worry if they don't harden completely, or are a little sticky; they will still make a terrific pancake topping. (These would be a great topping for almost any dessert, actually.)

This week's Sunday Supper is all about gifts from the kitchen. Almost 50 gift ideas are on offer from breads to sweets to soups, so please go ahead and check these out for more ideas for homemade holiday gifts. Also, don't forget to join in the Sunday Supper Twitter chat by following the hashtag #SundaySupper at 7 p.m. EST.

Breads and Breakfast

Condiments and Ingredients

Soup and Snacks



Don't forget to share your own recipes for Gifts from the Kitchen on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board.

* The pancake mix recipe is slightly adapted from The Harvest Eating Cookbook by Keith Snow. Do not forget to check out his Harvest Eating website for lots of seasonal eating ideas and recipes. 
** For more ideas for what to use apple cider syrup with and a recipe for boiled cider baked beans, check out the Washington Post recipe.