Diane Keith, who has been the breakfast chef at the Cider House Cafe for ten years, makes one of the cafe's signature seasonal dishes: blueberry pancakes. She said the secret to a great blueberry pancake is simple: good blueberries. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)
NORTH HAVERHILL — Diane Keith says the secret to great blueberry pancakes is obvious: the blueberries.
A Vermont native who has called North Haverhill home since 1961, Keith has been the breakfast chef at the Cider House Cafe at the Windy Ridge Orchard and Christmas Tree Farm for 10 of the cafe’s 11 years.
While maybe best known for its 18 varieties of apples, the first of which start becoming available in late August, since 2004 Windy Ridge Orchard has also become a go-to place for pick-your-own blueberries as well as for pancakes at the cafe.
The orchard has 1,000 PYO bushes on a two-acre parcel that contains the Blueray, Patriot, Northland, Jersey and Bluecrop varieties. Every day during the season — which officially began at Windy Ridge on July 15 — Keith and her fellow cafe employees gather blueberries for the pancakes.
Cafe owner Sheila Fabrizio said this year’s berries are coming in big, and thanks to the recent heavy rains followed by hot, sunny days, they’re sweet, too.
Keith likes the sweetness, but she prefers to work with a smaller variety of berry, which will be ripe in a couple weeks. Despite that temporary limitation, Keith said the bigger berries are just as delicious in the pancakes, which annually get admirers from as far away as Texas.
Asked about the cafe’s recipe for blueberry pancakes, Keith explained that “I sort of put it together from different cookbooks, trial-and-error, that sort of thing,” adding that the most important ingredient is the one that gives the pancakes their name.
At the Cider House Cafe, an order of blueberry pancakes yields three large pancakes and is served with butter and your choice of topping. Keith said locally-made maple syrup is highly recommended, but that commercially-made syrups are also available.