Recipe: Pumpkin Olad’yi

Sometimes it’s hard being a mom. Take this week, for example. People I don’t even know have been throwing candy at my daughter from giant parade floats. They call it Halloween, but I call it “the reason why my daughter is still awake an hour and a half past her bedtime, thrashing around like a junkie in withdrawal.”

You see, I don’t let Ava eat all her candy in one sitting. She gets a couple of pieces at snack time for a few days in a row. That’s it. Any candy that remains gets donated to the Laura Dester Shelter, for kids in crisis situations. Ava’s reward for sharing? A fun adventure to either Incredible Pizza or the Zoo. Her choice.

All this to say that Ava clearly hasn’t consumed a ton of candy but what she has eaten went straight to her crazies.

Now is the time for something wholesome. Something nutritious. Something unabashedly Russian to sort her out.

Enter Pumpkin Olad’yi.

It’s practically science: whenever I mention Russian food, 9 out of 10 people suggest we try Blinis, a giant crepe-like treat often filled with sweet cheese or any number of savory fillings.  If I’m talking to a genuine Russian, however, 9/10 will also suggest we try Olad’yi. These are Russia’s answer to the pancake. Small and moist, these griddle puppies are made with either keffir or buttermilk and can be served with fresh fruit, jam, sour cream, honey, or even a heaping drizzle of sweetened condensed milk.

The pumpkin gives her vitamins, the dairy gives her calcium, and fruit is proven to remove the crazies in three year-olds.

Ok. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

Regardless – this morning (because I can’t spend yet another night rocking my sugar-crazed daughter to sleep under the watchful eye of two rapidly disintegrating, glitter covered pumpkins) I’m making these Pumpkin Oladyi.  I could come up with another, more poetic reason – something about the crisp air and the magic of weekly trips to the pumpkin patch, but the simple truth is this: it’s simply that time of year.

We’re living in pumpkin town.

The recipe was inspired by the one in Please to the Table.

Serves 2


3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
pinch salt

3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (about 1/2 a can)

butter, for frying

Traditional topping suggestions:

Sweetened condensed milk
Sour cream


Good morning! Or, as they say in Russia: Доброе утро  (pronounced “doh-brah-eh- oo-trah”).

Let’s go to pumpkin town!

Saint Petersburg in the morning will do, for sure. Just look at her glow.

Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photo by George Shuklin.

Once there, whisk together dry ingredients in bowl. Add buttermilk, eggs, and butter, beat until smooth. Finally, stir in that glorious pumpkin.

Slowly fry the olad’yi in a lightly buttered pan, over medium heat for about 2-4 minutes per side (if they burn, your stove is up too high, adjust accordingly. you’re looking for the top to change from shiny to dull before you flip it).

TIP: Transfer the coins of pumpkin glory to a 200F oven until they are all fried up. (This has the bonus effect of helping the extra moist interior continue cooking a bit.)

There’s nothing quite so grand as a stack of pancakes with fresh fruit…

… unless it’s a stack of pancakes with fresh fruit and honey.

Extra deluxe.

Enjoy until the golden morning gives way to the easiest sort of green and blue.

Dawn near the river Zigan, Russia. Photo by Tsibin Konstantin.

P.S. Try it with a cup of black tea stirred with a spoonful of jam – another glorious Russian tradition.

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  1. I would love information about donating candy! Such a fantastic idea! I can’t wait to try your version of pumpkin pancakes! They are my favorite this time of year!!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      We simply brought it by! Ava was so cute… she gave it to the man and said “this is for the kids with no candy” and she had this serious look on her face like “you better give it to them and not eat it yourself” haha

  2. Oh this looks really good.Wonder if it will win over my not-so-pumpkin fan family !I will take a chance nonetheless :-)

  3. Oh these look great and will definitely be tried in this house!

    We actually had pumpkin and raisin porridge yesterday and it was a winning experiment :)

    I’d cooked up the pumpkin with a cinnamon stick and a few cloves because I was making a pumpkin loaf – leftovers went in the porridge. Sweet and delicious and a great way to start the day!

  4. I love to make pancakes on a lazy weekend morning. I also love pumpkin. I’m one of those odd people who like pumpkin in just about anything. So these are right up my alley.

    I notice that this recipe calls for 1/2 can of pumpkin. Do you know if the remaining pumpkin freezes well?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I haven’t tried it myself, but I’d think it would be ok. That being said, this recipe only serves 2, so you could easily double the recipe to use it all up (or have them two days in a row haha) or try adding it to oatmeal/porridge like bdubz above :)

  5. These were so delicious! I tried a couple of different Pumpkin Olad’yi recipes and this one turned out perfect. I served them with honey and sour cream, a wonderful autumn breakfast.


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