We recently discovered a perfect mountain hideaway 3 hours from Calgary in Fernie, BC — Island Lake Lodge is popular with skiers in winter and backcountry hikers in the summer, and is the perfect balance of remote but accessible. About 20 minutes up a dirt road from the town of Fernie, there are four cabins beside Island Lake, three of them with multiple private bedrooms with common areas - and hot tubs. There were canoes for paddling around the lake and a range of trails from easy to difficult. It was truly the perfect weekend (or midweek) getaway, like camp for grown-ups and families, but what really blew us away was the food.
One of the lodges has a large patio and is open daily for lunch (often people who aren't staying, but just coming up for a hike hang out for lunch afterward). Breakfast is included when you book into the lodge, and on Sunday morning there was, among the house-made elk sausage, braised beef Benedict, caramelized bacon and salads of local greens, a big batch of gingerbread pancakes.
I tend to not think of gingerbread when it’s not the holiday season, but the sweet, warmly spiced pancakes were perfect for a weekend morning in the mountains, and the perfect fuel for a day of hiding and paddling. I promised W I’d make them again when we got home, and I may even pack the dry ingredients to take on a camping trip. (I always bring a cast iron skillet to cook things like pancakes and sausages over an open fire.) The recipe calls for cold black coffee, which gives them a nice, deep flavour (and I love using up coffee that might otherwise go down the drain), but if you’re making them for kids, you could swap instant decaf coffee, or even milk.
Island Lake Lodge Gingerbread Pancakes
These gingerbread pancakes are served at the lodge, but the recipe comes from The Island Lake Lodge Cookbook, by Keith Liggett (Whitecap).
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup cold black coffee
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and slat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coffee, oil, water, eggs and lemon juice until smooth. Gradually add the coffee mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until almost smooth.
Heat a large oiled skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake into the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes, until golden on the underside. Flip and cook for another minute, until golden on both sides. Keep them warm in a 250F oven while you cook the rest. Serve with berries and maple syrup.