When, after several deep breaths, I told my friends that I was going to embark upon a whole month of veganism, the most common response was “But darling, will you not miss your poached eggs?”
It is true, I am addicted to poached eggs, so much so that I once considered renaming my Instagram account as ‘Eggs on Things’ because that was pretty much all that was on there. If I have one motto in life, it is that everything is made better by putting an egg on top and, yet here I am, willingly committing to a month without them.
During my planning for Veganuary, I had few concerns around lunch and dinner, but many around breakfast. Of course, I would always have avocado, but I even I would likely tire of it after 31 days. I had so many questions: Would porridge still be palatable with almond or coconut milk? Is vegan bacon really as terrible as everybody says? Is Marmite vegan? Will I be able to have pancakes?
The answer to the first three of those, is yes. The fourth is a little trickier. Unless you go to a specifically vegan restaurant, the likelihood is that the pancakes will not be vegan-friendly; but you can make vegan pancakes at home. I’ve done the leg-work on this, so will try to sum it up so that you fellow veganuary-ers (and also permanent vegans and non-vegans – hey!) don’t have to. There are recipes that claim that you can make pancakes with only two or three ingredients. Whilst I don’t want to jump all over other recipe writers, I am a little skeptical about how these would turn out. I made two-ingredient brownies once and, whilst being OK, they weren’t a patch on Felicity Cloake’s, which have a comparatively lengthy ingredients list with nine. You see where I’m going here.
So what I did instead was to work with a more traditional pancake recipe and simply substitute out the non-vegan ingredients with vegan ones. Milk was fairly straightforward as most supermarkets now stock a variation of plant-based milks that work just as well in cooking as dairy milks. In terms of eggs, you have two choices, both of which sound a little odd. You can buy a product from health food shops and specialist grocers called ‘No Egg Egg-Replacer,’ which is a powder to which you add water and use in place of an egg. The alternative to this is to use ground chia or flax seeds in the same way – which is probably more convenient if you use these a lot in your cooking anyway. I don’t, so I picked up a box of the former.
I made the pancakes in the same way that I would usually, whisking the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then cooking them in a pan in the tiniest smidge of olive oil. They took a little longer to cook than my regular pancakes, and were slightly more liquid in consistency, so a little more difficult to flip, but I managed it using a huge silicon spatula in the shape of a guitar that somebody once bought my musician husband for Christmas. The pancakes themselves were surprisingly similar in texture to ones I have made made before (but sadly not the best ones) – a little gluier perhaps, but it’s hardly surprising when you substitute a powedered ‘egg’ for a real one. On the whole, I liked them, which probably means I will be making them again before the month’s out.
(Apologies for how they look – I need a new pan.)
Pancakes previously: The classic American-style pancakes. It’s not easy to make these vegan as the trick for the fluffiness is beating the egg whites. That being said, I have recently been reading about the use of aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas) in place of eggs in meringue, so that could work here. The blueberry pancakes and sweet potato pancakes from the archives could probably be veganised.
[Note: I left some batter in the fridge for my husband and he used this batter to make pancakes in the style of crepes; swirling the batter to the edges of a large pan to make a thinner pancake. He thought it gave a better result than making them American-style. I haven’t tried it out yet, but intend to next time. If you do give it a go, please do get in touch and let me know how it went.]
Egg replacement for 1½ eggs (see text to decipher this mystery)
185g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
500ml non-dairy milk (I used Alpro coconut milk)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
Smidge of olive oil, for cooking
In a small bowl, make up the egg replacement and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Whisk in the egg replacement, milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract until you have a smooth batter.
Place a large frying pan, or chef’s pan over a medium-high heat and brush the surface with a small amount of olive oil. Ladle small amounts of the batter (about 75ml) into the pan and allow to spread. Cook for a few minutes until the edges of the pancakes are browned and bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook on the other side for a couple of minutes before transferring to a warmed plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with anything you like.