Josh Poulakis knows something about making breakfast for a crowd, especially on a Sunday morning in the fall when the snappy, cool air makes people yearn to start their day with something hearty and delicious.
“As soon as Labor Day is over, it’s time for the pumpkin spice,” says the third generation chef at his family’s restaurant and hotel, the Hampton Maid. This local Hampton Bays landmark has been serving bountiful breakfasts for over 60 years, with loyal followers returning for signature egg dishes and seasonal favorites, like pumpkin pancakes.
Poulakis has worked in the kitchen since he was a young boy. “They put me in the back sink,” he recounts with a smile of the culinary and hospitality foundation given to him by his hardworking parents, Sharon and Steve Poulakis. “They didn’t have a babysitter, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Patrons count the days until this favorite, asked after fall item makes its great pumpkin return (it’s back in regular rotation for the season on the Hampton Maid’s regular breakfast menu as of October 1). And while it might seem like it holds the status of a special, it’s actually a Hampton Maid staple, first appearing on the breakfast menu “over 20 years ago,” recalls Poulakis. “People look forward to it.”
For those wanting to inspire a languid, cozy, stay-put kind of Sunday morning on a brisk day, making these fluffy, seasonal pancakes are the key to keeping the family gathered ’round. Poulakis gladly shares the recipe — with a nod from the maid herself, their infamous logo of a woman dressed in colonial garb holding a tray of steaming food, which was initially sketched on a napkin by Steve’s mother, Marion.
The critical ingredient to nailing the recipe? “A little bit of finely diced, crystallized ginger,” Poulakis notes. “I think that gives it a little pleasant surprise every other bite.”
The Hampton Maid’s pumpkin pancakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tbsp crystallized ginger, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk