Ten years ago, one of the first gifts my soon-to-be husband wanted to give me was a package of Bruce’s Sweet Potato Pancake Mix. He knew that I love sweet potatoes and he was anxious for me to try Bruce’s because he was fond of them. I convinced him to “wait until we’re married,” for I was living in New Jersey where my idea of cooking breakfast was instant oatmeal, and he was living in Louisiana. If he gave me the mix, I would have to take it to New Jersey and bring it back to Louisiana five months later. The truth is, as much as I like sweet potatoes, I was a little leery of veggie pancakes.
Once I moved to Louisiana there was no getting around sweet potato pancakes, and it was love at first bite. I enjoy baked sweets, mashed sweets, candied sweets, even leftover sweets. The pancakes do not taste like any of those things, although the taste is comparable to sweet potato pie. In addition to the regular pancake ingredients and sweet potatoes, Bruce’s also includes cinnamon, which is partially responsible for its unique taste. People who like spice cake or carrot cake will like this product. Bruce’s bills itself as “the breakfast vegetable,” and so they should. I had previously only eaten vegetables with breakfast in diners when I ordered omelets. These pancakes were so much better.
If you follow the two simple rules set by the High Priestess of Pancakes, you will have beautiful, delicious, fluffy perfection. Can you improve upon perfection? Sure! Add chopped pecans.
When Katrina moved us from Louisiana to North Carolina, I feared our mornings with Bruce’s were over. That’s what inspired me to become a pancake pioneer. Several weeks ago, while writing the High Priestess article, I discovered that Amazon carries Bruce’s Sweet Potato Pancake Mix. (If you live in a rural or exurban area, you won’t find the more exotic items at “local” stores. I depend on Amazon to bring me the world — or at least the parts of it that I need in my kitchen. Amazon supplies me with stuffed grape leaves, eggplant and red pepper pâté, dehydrated sweet red bell peppers, and many other things I can get somewhere, but not here.)
How can you top Bruce’s Sweet Potato Pancake Mix? Oh, that’s easy. Start with butter or margarine. Then go for the pancake syrup. Some grocers carry pecan pancake syrup — that’s ideal; not everyone cares for the combination of maple and sweet potato. I found a truly decadent topping in Pigeon Forge, TN. There’s a restaurant there known as The Old Mill that serves excellent food in extremely large portions. During tourist season, patrons usually wait a bit for a table, and where better to kill some time than at The Old Mill General Store? There we picked up a jar of Toffee Pecan Honey Butter. One quarter cup warmed in the microwave for thirty seconds provides a heavenly, praline-like syrup, rich and very, very sweet.
In addition to pancakes, the mix’s bag includes recipes for sweet potato cookies and muffins. In Louisiana, sweet potatoes are big. No, make that BIG. They grow them, cook them, eat them, and study them. Louisianans know their sweet potatoes. My contribution to a party one afternoon was sweet potato cookies. I put the plate down on the table, nobody asked what they were until after they were gone, and they were gone pretty darn fast. Since we were in Louisiana, I had enhanced the cookies with pecans. Raisins would also go nicely with their cinnamon-y taste.
What, exactly, is in Bruce’s Sweet Potato Pancake Mix? “Bleached Wheat Flour Enriched…, Sweet Potatoes, Sugar, Soy Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Leavening, Artificial Flavor, Dextrose, Buttermilk Solids, Salt, Cinnamon, Egg White, Lecithin, Non Fat Dry Milk,” according to the ingredients panel. They are certified “Heart Healthy” by the American Heart Association; they are “naturally sweet,” low-fat, and have no cholesterol. As you would expect from sweet potatoes, they have lots of lovely vitamins.
Amazon rates the popularity of the products it sells, and Bruce’s Sweet Potato Pancake Mix is sixteenth in pancake and waffle mixes, sixty-first in baking mixes. I have a feeling there are a whole lot of sweet potato pancakes being eaten out there.
Bottom line: Would I buy Bruce’s Sweet Potato Pancake Mix? By the case! It’s a staple in our house, a well-missed friend that we greedily welcome back.