They would start out a bit rubbish, and get progressively better, until I was on an absolute roll! In those days (it was the 1980s in the UK) and certainly in our household, American-style pancakes were an exotic thing of fantasy and slight confusion. The pancakes I made, were less delicate and slightly more stodgy version of a crêpe, and we’d drown them in a thick layer of white sugar, and a slick of jif lemon (preserved lemon juice in a lemon-shaped squeezy bottle)—the iconic must-have ingredient for a successful pancake day!
Then in later years, I discovered the cakey light, satisfying, maple syrup-absorbing American-style pancakes, firstly via Bisquick mixes when they became available (the first one my parents made was the same diameter as a crêpe, and used nearly half the box!). We then learned how to make them from scratch. Vanilla pancakes with banana, berries and maple syrup quickly became my favorite go-to treaty breakfast for those occasions when a pick-me-up was needed. And so when I first went vegan, I made it my mission to find (or create) the perfect vegan pancake!
It didn’t take me too long to realize that gram (chickpea) flour was my friend, for texture and binding, that I didn’t need any other kind of flour, and that baking powder, a touch of maple syrup and a squeeze of vanilla-bean paste (it’s heaven—I promise you!), along with my plant milk of choice (oat!!!) were all I needed. And not only was this recipe a satisfying pancakey-box-ticking alternative to the ones I’d previously made, it was even better! More cakey, more luscious, with more syrup-absorption powers… My friends, it truly is the pancake heaven of pancake heavens!
So here’s the recipe—it depends on the ingredients you’re using on the day.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1-2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 cup plant milk (my fav is oat)
- light oil for pan (I use rapeseed)
- Your favorite toppings
1. Pop the gram flour and baking powder into a measuring jug or a mixing bowl, and stir them together.
2. Gradually add the plant milk, stirring between each glug, until your mixture has no lumps of powder, and it has a good “soft-drop” consistency (until it’s thick enough to pick up on a spoon and turn the spoon sideways, but with a gentle tap, it will fall off and plop back into the mixture, staying a little on top. Basically, a normal pancake batter texture.
3. Add your syrup and vanilla bean paste, and stir in.
4. Heat a frying pan (I like non-stick, but cast iron would work—just make sure you don’t over-heat it) to a medium/low heat, and add a splash of oil, turning the pan and swirling it, to coat the bottom surface.
5. When the oil is heated and goes a little runnier and more viscous, pour in enough pancake batter to form a 3-4 inch diameter circle-ish shape.
6. Leave it for a few minutes, until the edges get a little dryish and rounded-looking, and until bubbles start to rise to the top (as per the photo).
7. Use your spatula (if using a non-stick pan, don’t use a metal spatula, whatever you do!) to lift the pancake a little & check for done-ness.
8. When it’s done on that side, flip it over, and leave it to cook (don’t press it down whilst cooking – if you do, you’ll lose the lovely airy fluffiness). After a few minutes, check for done-ness, and once it’s done on both sides, put it aside on your plate (you could keep it in a warm place, on a low oven or in the top oven under the hob you’re using if you like).
9. Repeat, until all the mixture is used up. Only add more oil if you need to. If you want to, you could experiment with adding thin slices of banana or washed/dried blueberries to the pancake just a minute or two after putting in the batter.
10. Layer up the pancakes with berries, chopped bananas, toasted pecans, maple syrup, whipped coconut cream, chocolate sauce—basically anything your inner child is crying out for!
Drool, eat, enjoy, photograph, and Instagram the heck out of it!
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Photo: Ema Melanaphy