I’m so glad my friend Zeke has started taking French lessons on the weekends, because the language school is a few blocks from my house, and it gives him an excuse to come over on Saturday mornings. Zeke is wonderful at encouraging me to dig in the back of my pantry for the right thing to throw in a basic recipe, these pancakes being a great example. I suggested zesting a lemon into the batter, and, as I was wondering what I should pull out of the spice cabinet to complement it, he said, “Do you have any rosewater?”

Well, of course I have rosewater.

Almond extract, cardamom, and rose petals later, we had some lovely pancakes. The basic recipe I use is from Stephanie Giacoletto, a fellow Bulgaria volunteer. Believe it or not, give the batter a few more whisks than you might think is acceptable for pancakes.

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Lemon-Rose Pancakes with Cardamom Syrup

syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
3 cardamom pods, crushed
splash of lemon juice
splash of rosewater

pancakes
2 eggs
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
zest of 1/2 lemon
crumbled petals of 5-6 dried rosebuds
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
oil or butter, for cooking

Make syrup: in a saucepan over medium high heat, combine water, sugar, lemon zest, and cardamom. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and rosewater, and set aside.

Make pancakes: In a small mixing bowl combine eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest, and rose petals. Set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add wet to dry and stir to mix.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles in the oil, pour in about 1/4 cup of batter. Flip when the edges just start to look dry and bubbles pop to form little holes (instead of melting back into the batter, which means that it’s still too wet). Repeat with remaining batter, putting as many pancakes in the pan as you can without crowding; add more oil to the pan as needed.

Strain syrup to remove cardamom seeds and pour over pancakes. Powdered sugar, too? Yes.

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