So things have been pretty quiet over here at Sentient Baker HQ. That’s not to say my kitchen has been quiet, quite the opposite in fact. I’ve been busy learning how to bake all over again. You see, all of the skills and knowledge I had regarding baking, the textures, the science, the instincts, came from standing by my Grandmother’s side. I learned to bake with butter, eggs and milk, but the world is changing and adaptation is key. Making the ethical decision to remove those products from my life wasn’t easy on my baking at first. I can’t tell you how many claggy cakes and soggy biscuits I’ve made during this process. At one point I was ready to conclude that leading a cruelty free life will simply mean that I have to endure pale and flaccid baking for the rest of my days.
I’m guessing I’m not alone in this and I, like many other keen vegan bakers, rushed out to try every alternative under the sun before establishing a new normal; a new set of reliable techniques and products that render cruelty-free baked goods just as tender, flaky and golden as the traditional variety. It’s taken quite some time though and I’m still only just starting to find my feet. I had to take a back seat as a blogger and, instead, rely on the hard work of others. One particular blogger to note is Minimalist Baker – her ‘One Bowl Vegan Chocolate Cake’ IS the best vegan cake recipe in existence. I don’t know how she discovered such a precious and foolproof formula but I’m forever grateful.
One of my favourite things to eat, pre-veganism, was pancakes. Pancakes have been a subject of great frustration and sadness this past year. Having only just perfected my traditional ‘fluffy’ pancake recipe, I was devasted to find vegan pancakes, for the most part, unpalatable. In the beginning I followed recipes exactly, putting my trust in the research and recommendations of others. Time after time I found myself choking down claggy, saccharine blobs of flour and suffering for hours afterwards with baking soda-induced heartburn. No matter what I did they always tasted either soapy or they were flat. I tried using whipped aqua faba, baking powder, baking soda, ground linseeds, chia seeds, apple cider vinegar. You name it, I tried it.
I wouldn’t be bold enough to claim that I have since found the perfect recipe, but I have found one that I return to time and time again. It’s even written down on a piece of grease-flecked paper that live in my kitchen cupboard, next to the baking soda. Now, if you’re into simple, wham-bam-thankyou-mam breakfast cooking, this isn’t the recipe for you. It’s not complicated to prepare, but the ingredients list requires a well-stocked, plant-based cupboard/fridge. For this recipe I do actually recommend a vegan egg replacement powder. I am not normally one for pushing pre-packaged substitutes but, in this case, I really do find it superior. The brand I use is called Arche and the product is called VegEgg. There are quite a few similar products from other brands so have a look in the ‘Free From’ aisle in your supermarket. It basically contains a mixture of starches in powder form that you mix with water and add to your baking in place of egg. It works to bind the mixture but, I would argue, it doesn’t have the same leavening effect so for that I bring in a little apple cider vinegar and baking soda.
These pancakes are robust, I often cook more than I need and store them in a container to be reheated later. My favourite thing to add to the batter is blueberries but my husband likes slices of banana added before the first flip that caramelise slightly in the pan. I write the recipe in cup form because I find it so much easier than fiddling around with scales in the morning. If you don’t have a set of cup measures I would recommend using a small coffee or tea cup. I use apple sauce in place of sugar not because I think it’s ‘healthier’, but because it contributes to a softer texture and, in combination with the cinnamon, means that the pancakes have a subtle ‘apple pie’ taste. I used a blueberry batch for my photos but if you want to go full ‘apple pie’, as the recipe intends, then an extra dollop of apple sauce and a sprinkling of toasted, flaked almonds is heavenly.
Ultimate Plant-Based Pancakes
1 cup plain flour (also works with spelt)
¾ cup soya/almond/oat milk
¼ cup soya yoghurt (Alpro unsweetened is my go to)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
¼ cup apple sauce
1.5 tbsp egg replacement (I use Arche ‘VegEgg’) + 50ml water
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Apple sauce +Flake almonds
- Add the water to the egg replacement, mix well and allow to sit for 5 mins.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the milk and allow to sit for 5 mins.
- Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the soya yoghurt, apple sauce and vanilla extract to the milk and whisk together well.
- Add the liquids to the flour mix, followed by the egg replacement and whisk to combine. The mixture should be thick and smooth. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes whilst you heat the pan.
- I cook pancakes on a medium heat using a sort of plant-based frying liquid. I found it to work better than oil in this case but feel free to use coconut oil or whatever you normally fry with.
- I use a ¼ cup measure to scoop out the mixture and cook three pancakes at a time. I wait until bubbles start to develop on the surface of the batter before flipping them and cooking for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Top them with a dollop of apple sauce, a sprinkle of toasted, flaked almonds and an extra dusting of cinnamon OR, if using blueberries/bananas instead, add the fruit shortly after you have added the batter to the pan.