When I was a kid, my mom used to buy me frozen Korean pancakes from the market for breakfast. I absolutely loved them. These pancakes, also known as hotteok, are soft pancakes filled with a brown sugar filling. Little did I know that the real hotteok tasted nothing like the frozen ones. They were infinitely better! Suffice to say, I'm still obsessed with these pancakes. And so, I decided to make my own version by adding pumpkin for a fall twist. Even if you never heard of hotteok before, I'll bet you'll fall in love with this pumpkin hotteok.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
If you ever have the chance to visit South Korea, you'll most likely see street vendors selling hotteok. Filled with a brown sugar filling, these sweet pancakes are cooked on a griddle until golden brown. Some people add peanuts, walnuts, or sesame seeds to the mix. I decided to incorporate pumpkin, walnuts, and cinnamon for a full fall dessert.
To make hotteok, first you have to make the dough. All you need is milk, sugar, yeast, all-purpose flour, and sweet rice flour. Make sure to use sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous flour) and not rice flour. The sweet version gives the hotteok a slightly chewy texture similar to mochi.
Knead the dough until smooth and let it proof for about one hour or until doubled in size.
While you're waiting on the dough, make the filling. Combine pumpkin puree with brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and cinnamon. I used canned pumpkin but you can make your own pumpkin puree if you prefer.
Once the dough is ready, punch it down and let it rest for another 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. I make my pumpkin hotteok relatively big but if you want them to be thinner and smaller, make 8 portions instead.
Roll each portion into a 6-7 inch circle and fill each portion with about 2 tbsp of the pumpkin filling. Gather up the edges and pinch the ends to enclose the filling. This can get a little messy if you put too much filling. The trick is to put just enough filling so that you can still close the hotteok.
Heat some oil in a medium saute pan and cook the hotteok in the pan. Street vendors in Korea have a weight to place on the hotteok to prevent them from puffing up. This is the trick behind keeping them nice and thin. I wanted to make mine a little more like a donut so I kept them on the thicker side, only slightly flattening them while they cooked.
Pan-fry the pumpkin hotteok until golden brown on both sides and drain the excess oil on paper towels. The best part about these hotteok? You can dig right in. Be careful of the hot filling, it can get really hot! But the pancakes are best served warm while the brown sugar and pumpkin filling is still gooey and delicious.
These pumpkin hotteok are not like the traditional Korean pancakes because of the addition of pumpkin and its lighter texture but man is it good! They're like Korean donuts and who doesn't like donuts?
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