Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Brunch Pancakes!

I love pancakes. Luckily, so do my son and husband. They are one of our favourite breakfast-for-dinner options, and I always make lots so I can freeze them and send them to daycare with my son for his lunch. Or, you can also just pop a frozen pancake in the toaster oven for a quick delicious breakfast. Mmmm... pancakes.

I have been using a recipe from this cookbook called Cooking Without Mom (1986, Hen Party Enterprises) that my mom gave to me when I first moved out on my own. It's a neat little cookbook that has seen me through a lot, but my favourite recipe in it has always been the pancakes recipe. When I decided to go whole-food vegan, I tried a few vegan pancake recipes online, but none ever came close to being as good as the ones from this cookbook. I wanted to make some pancakes this morning for brunch, but got discouraged by the idea of trying yet another pancake recipe that wasn't going to cut it. And then, I had the brilliant idea of whole-food veganizing the original recipe that I love so much. Luckily, it worked! The finished pancakes were light, fluffy, and oh-so-delicious. And, they had oodles of good stuff in them too with no added sugar or fat.

The Best Vegan Pancakes Ever
Yield: 11 1/3-cup sized pancakes

2.5 cups (625 ml) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) quinoa flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
2-3 tsp (10-15 ml) cinnamon
2.5 cups (625 ml) unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
1 small or 1/2 large ripe banana, mashed
1 flax "egg" (1 Tbsp ground flax meal + 3 Tbsp warm water)

1) Whisk together flax meal and warm water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Whisk again before adding to wet ingredients.

2) Combine flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until evenly mixed.

3) Mix together "milk," water, vanilla, mashed banana, and flax egg.

4) Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet all at once, then mix until just combined but still lumpy.

5) Preheat your non-stick frying pan(s), using low-medium heat (about a 4 if your stove has numbered dials). I always use two non-stick pans so that I can cook more pancakes at once. Non-stick also prevents you from having to use oil. Always remember to use a plastic flipper to avoid scratches, and get a new pan once you start seeing cracks in the non-stick finish. You'll know your pan is preheated enough once you drop a few drops of water onto it and the water "dances."

6) Use either a 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup or a ladle to portion out the pancakes. Drop them onto your preheated pans, making a circular shape.

7) Let cook for about 2 minutes. You'll know they are ready to flip when they get bubbles all over and the edges look dull. They should be golden brown once you flip them.

8) Cook for another minute or so after flipping until the other side is golden brown.

9) If you are making a lot and not planning to eat them fresh off the pan, heat your oven to about 200-225 F. Put a cooling rack onto a cookie sheet and place your pancakes on top of this in the oven. It will keep them warm without letting them get too soggy.

10) Serve pancakes hot with a topping of your choice. Here is my finished pancake with maple syrup. Sometimes I do a fruit sauce for a topping, chop some fresh fruit on top with maple syrup, and sometimes I put almond butter on top. All delicious ways to eat these pancakes!

A note on quinoa flour: quinoa is high in protein and iron, so it's excellent for vegans. I tried making some pancakes using all quinoa flour, but the taste was so overpowering that it just wasn't appetizing. I'm experimenting with how much I can put into a recipe without my son saying, "Mommy, this tastes funny." A half cup in this recipe worked - couldn't taste it, but it still adds some nutrition. You might be able to get away with more quinoa flour and less whole wheat. Alternatively, if you have no quinoa flour on hand, all whole wheat will also work. You could also try different flours, like spelt or kamut. I will probably experiment with these alternative flours at some point in the future!

Another tip for this recipe: you can also add in finely diced apple, blueberries, raisins, or vegan chocolate chips. Add no more than 1 cup. The diced apples are my favourite! Enjoy!

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