Gingerbread pancakes DSC 8474

Gingerbread pancakes

Can someone explain to me what happened with the Anglican Communion? In 1534, Henry the Eighth split the Church of England from the Catholic Church so he could divorce his wife and marry Anne Boleyn. And from then on, Anglicans have basically been lax Catholics. Our priests can marry, we don’t have one-on-one confessions, we have female priests and we can divorce and remarry to our hearts’ content. So in those days before lent, when Catholic countries are filled with people wearing beads, tossing doubloons, donning festive masks, dancing in the streets and eating king cake, why do those radical and rebellious Anglicans mark the night before Lent by staidly eating a pile of pancakes?

OK, I admit, I do know that there is a historical (if not liturgical) reason why pancakes are consumed on this day. Many centuries ago, fatty foods including dairy were forbidden during the 40 days of Lent. So in order to use up their supply of these ingredients, the Anglicans added flour and voila—a feast of pancakes on the day before Ash Wednesday. And don’t get me wrong. I love pancakes. Next to pizza and burgers, I’d say it’s one of those foods that’s never bad, there are just varying degrees of quality. But growing up in an Episcopalian family, and watching all my Catholic friends head with their families to Galveston or New Orleans to revel in those last few days before Lent, I always felt a little sheepish walking into my church’s annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. No beads, no floats, no dancing, just stack upon stack of pancakes. And yes, it was a bit gluttonous, but compared to Mardi Gras, it was bit tame, too.

Perhaps it was dull because the only style of pancake served at my church’s supper was your standard buttermilk with maple syrup. Delicious yes, but they can get a bit boring. I mean c’mon, a pancake is like a blank template screaming for culinary creativity. Take my grandpa’s, for instance. Every Saturday when I was growing up, he’d make fluffy pancakes dotted with fresh blueberries and pecans from the family farm. And then there were my uncle’s: his so-called Mexican pancakes were chunky with fresh coconut, a variety of nuts and chocolate chips. And he poured so much batter on the griddle they’d turn out as big as your head.

Gingerbread pancakes | Homesick Texan

After my family’s, I’d have to say the tatiest pancakes I’ve ever eaten were in Austin, TX. There are two cafés, Kerbey Lane and Magnolia, that are open 24 hours, and while they make all sorts of dishes both places excel at breakfast. There’s been a long-standing debate about which restaurant is superior. And to be honest, it’s been so long since I’ve eaten at either one I have no opinion. But if you want pancakes in that town, everyone knows some of the best are found at either restaurant—they both make excellent variations on this classic dish. Theirs are large, fluffy and stuffed with all sorts of delights such as bananas, nuts, berries and chocolate chips. But I’d have to say my favorite style the two both serve is the gingerbread pancake.

I’d never had gingerbread pancakes until I moved to Austin and after one bite, I no longer had a desire for any other flavor. Take all the spicy goodness of a gingerbread cookie and make it rich, cake-like and fluffy, and there you have the joy that is a gingerbread pancake. They’re versatile as well, going equally well with nuts and honey, maple syrup, applesauce, whipped cream, or my favorite topping, vanilla yogurt.

Gingerbread pancakes | Homesick Texan

After I moved to New York, I’d go to diners around town, asking if they served gingerbread pancakes but nobody did. Fortunately, a few years ago Magnolia gave its recipe to Texas Monthly. I made it, and instantly I was back in Austin on a warm spring morning, where the bluebonnets were in bloom, the sun was shining and everyone was relaxed sipping their steaming coffee and stuffing their face with gingerbread pancakes. So even if you prefer Kerbey Lane over Magnolia, I believe you’ll find this recipe a good substitute for either café’s offerings. And if you’ve never eaten gingerbread pancakes, what are you waiting for? Fire up the griddle and get cooking! And yes, perhaps if my childhood church had served these instead of plain old buttermilk, I would have found Shrove Tuesday a little less tame.

Happy Pancake Day!

4.75 from 4 votes

Gingerbread pancakes

Servings 4
Author Adapted by Lisa Fain from Magnolia Cafe


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


  • Cream eggs and sugar together. Stir in buttermilk, water, and coffee and set aside. In a separate bowl sift together remaining dry ingredients.
  • Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients, then mix in melted butter.Add more water or buttermilk if necessary, but batter should be thick.
  • Cook until done on a lightly greased hot griddle or in a heavy skillet (turn once when bubbles appear on upper side and start to break). Pancakes will be thick and cake-like in texture.

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4.75 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. I'm from Tyler and have loved Gingerbread Pancakes for quite some time! I have 4 daughters who have their own twist, but what they all agree on is the Dream Syrup I make. Yes, it's what dreams are made of! I think the yogurt would be better for you but if your in the mood for some little piece of heaven, you might give it a try.

    1 1/2 c. sugar
    3/4 c. buttermilk
    1/2 c. butter
    1 tbsp. Karo syrup (light)
    1 tsp. soda
    2 tsp. vanilla
    Mix all ingredients, except vanilla, in a deep pan. Bring to a boil; boil 7 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat, add vanilla. Store in refrigerator. Heat before serving. Excellent over ice cream or pancakes, waffles or French toast.

    Let me know what you think!

  2. We went to Kerby Lane Cafe after a night of Bowling in Austin. This was our first visit. I had the pumpkin pancakes! Awesome! I live 1.5 hours away so I had to find this recipe. I found your site and my day was made! Thanks! I made them for brunch. I happened to have a jar of my homemade pecan syrup in the frig. It was a a no brainer combination.

    Butter Pecan Syrup
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup water
    1 teaspoons butter pecan extract or maple flavoring
    1/4 cup butter
    1/2 cup chopped pecans
    Boil water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add pecans. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add flavoring and butter prior to serving.

    Suzi, Harper, Texas

  3. Anonymous says:

    Love these gingerbread pancakes…Made them last year for shrove Tuesday for several friends and they were a a hit!! I want to include more friends in our pre-Lenten gingerbread pancake celebration. Does anyone have instructions for successfully freezing, reheating and serving pancakes? I would love to be able to enjoy my company while they are enjoying these fabulous pancakes!

    Native Texan

  4. chelsea lyn says:

    i just stumbled upon this post from your recipe index. Last year my boyfriend and i did a summer-long cross country roadtrip and happened to stop at Magnolias for breakfast. Their gingerbread cakes were incredible and i've been daydreaming about them ever since. thanks for the recipe. i can't wait to try it out!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Had these at magnolia TWICE this weekend after the bar(read LATE), so happy to make them at home! And in Htown!!