The “Simple” Joy of Vegan Pancakes

26 Jan

Pancakes are one of the all time great comfort foods–it’s main limitation is time. It takes a significant amount of time to prepare and cook, and you may or may not have enough batter, but it’s so worth it. Now remove normal ingredients…

Preparing food in my house is never easy. Anything that requires eggs is out. We avoid meat in the house. Also, onions and garlic, with tomatoes to a lesser degree. That makes cooking a meal rather difficult, even a vegetarian one, because onions and garlic (which I love) are the base of so many of things. Cheese, the basis of all American cuisine, is also out the window and the vegan substitutes never quite have the right attributes to make it work in most dishes.

What does this have to do with pancakes? Eggs are an essential part of any batter, but unlike most substitutes, this is the easiest. Chia “eggs” work just fine; this is chia seeds ground up and mixed with water. Milk is honestly just liquid in most recipes; it doesn’t add anything. So I use a minimum amount of hemp milk (which is only good for cooking) and then use water for the rest.

Because maple syrup isn’t sweet enough for my kids, I have to throw in chocolate chips, otherwise they’ll barely eat anything. Frankly, I think that ruins the aesthetic, but I’m outvoted.

For the dry ingredients, I mix in mostly einkorn flour, which before the gluten free movement, was mostly used for animal feed. (To quote Samuel Johnson: “Oats… in England, a food for horses. In Scotland, food for men.”) Mix in a portion of garbanzo bean flour (for protein, used in Italy during WWII when they were starving and couldn’t get wheat) and brown rice flour (for lift), and of course, a little baking soda and cream of tartar (because baking powder has corn starch), and you’re good!

Of course, the work is never done, because my wife cooked fish on my cast iron skillet two days before and never cleaned it off. So scraping off fish scuz was joyful, and then oiling, then scraping some more, then oiling again. I was willing to throw away the first pancake. But apparently my scraping did enough to clear off the fish scuz and it turned out all right.

So we eat our pancakes with fake butter (Earth Balance Soy Free), maple syrup, and (because we got it as a gift), wild chokecherry syrup. The last was interesting, because it’s one of those Native American things that sounds good. The problem is that there’s so much sugar in it that you can’t taste anything beyond a vague fruit taste. But it still tasted good… but man, that was a long way to go for something simple.

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