Snow comes with winter the way the receipt comes with groceries. Routine. Except in Baltimore. There, snow comes with winter the way Godzilla comes with New York. Unexpected. Terrifying. Disastrous for traffic.
Even the thought of snow can send the city into a frenzy. A recent morning, a sunny 43 degrees, was met with alarm: “Snowflakes possible. Exercise extreme caution.”
Extreme caution involves crusting the streets with salt.
Rushing to the store for milk.
And canceling school.
There’s nothing less welcome than a salt-crusted, milk-drenched, no-snow snow day.
The city comes to a standstill, due to a surfeit of salt, milk and children.
It bears little resemblance to the actual snow day, when children slide through the powdered-sugar chill, then stomp inside for pancakes.
The pancakes resemble cinnamon buns, though faster and flatter. Pecan butter carves in a swirl. Cream cheese glaze drifts across the top. They go well with cold toes, warm sweater and a gallon or two of surplus milk.
CINNAMON BUN PANCAKES
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes per batch
Makes: 8 4-inch pancakes
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch fine salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
Canola oil, for cooking
Grind: To make swirl, toss nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, soda and salt in the food processor. Grind fine. Stir in melted butter. Scrape this paste into a small ziptop bag.
Mash: To make glaze, beat together butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Thin with a little milk. Scrape into a small ziptop bag.
Whisk: To make pancake batter, settle butter in a large bowl. Zap to melt. Whisk in, in order: egg, buttermilk and milk. Sift in flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk briefly. Let rest 10 minutes.
Swirl: Set a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Slick with just a little oil. Scoop on batter, using a 1/3-cup measure. Nudge each pancake into a 4-inch circle. Snip a corner off the swirl bag. Squeeze on a spiral of the nutty paste.
Crisp: As pancakes cook, trace over the swirl with a toothpick or knife-tip; this will help the swirl sink into the batter. Cook until the center of each pancake is speckled with popping bubbles, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is browned, 1 minute. Keep warm in a 200-degree oven while crisping remaining cakes, adding oil as needed. Wipe out the skillet with an oiled paper towel between batches.
Serve: Stack up two cakes, swirl side up, on each of 4 plates. Snip a corner off the glaze bag. Drizzle with glaze. Dig in.