Jane Easton, self-taught food writer, cookery demonstrator/ teacher and all things foodie, has worked for Viva! and Viva! Health for nearly 10 years and been vegan for over 13. From the start, she was determined not to be the miserable geeky one in the corner munching on a lettuce leaf at parties, so put her mind to creating 21st century plant-based recipes that included lots of cake. Jane’s passion is to write recipes that everyone can cook and enjoy at home, as well as promoting new vegan ingredients and products to make a vegan journey even more enjoyable. Recent projects include Vegan Recipe Club with its hundreds of recipes and features, the forthcoming Viva! Cookbook and Viva!’s 30 Day Vegan as well as being recipe consultant for Veganuary. She does cookery demonstrations across the UK, from schools to veggie events such as VegFest and Viva!’s Incredible Veggie Roadshows.
I have a deep love affair with pancakes and make them frequently. They have a taste of childhood and there is something magical about the transformation of simple, economical ingredients into that lacy perfection. For many of us in the UK, ‘pancakes’ means crêpes – a thin circle of hot fried batter topped with sugar and lemon, eaten on Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day! And they don’t need eggs. A little gram flour (chickpea or besan flour) will bind the batter perfectly and is cheaper as well as kinder to animals and the environment.
The humble pancake also lends itself to many incarnations – sweet, savoury, snack or large meal. It’s no coincidence that so many cultures feature them in their cuisine: thin Chinese pancakes (great with mock duck and hoisin sauce); Indian dhosas – large flat rice flour creations stuffed with a mashed potato/lentil mixture and smothered in a vegetable sambal sauce; Socca or Farinata chickpea pancakes from the streets of Nice and Genoa… and many more.
The recipe below makes 6– 8 large pancakes. It can also be made with less liquid if you prefer the thicker Scots girdle scone or American breakfast pancake.Whichever you choose:
don’t skip the sieving – especially the gram flour
use a good non-stick frying pan – and heat the pan up well before adding the oil and then the batter.
That will avoid the ‘first pancake is always a disaster’ syndrome!
And… if you have time, make the batter in advance.
175ml/6fl oz soya or other plant milk, preferably unsweetened
175ml/6fl oz water
175g/6oz plain flour, sieved*
2 tbsp chickpea flour, sieved – also known as gram or besan flour
1 tsp baking powder, sieved
1 tbsp plain vegetable oil
Pinch of salt
Additional oil for frying – or low-cal spray if using non-stick panInstructions
Place all of the ingredients, except the oil for frying, in a blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively whisk by hand until there are no lumps.
Heat the saucepan until it is very hot. Add the oil – it should spit back if you drizzle a tiny drop of water in it. Drain off any excess (or use low-cal spray, as above).
Pour enough of the batter mixture into the frying pan to thinly cover the bottom. Shake gently around so the batter spreads to cover the pan.
Fry on one side for about a minute. Loosen the edges with a spatula and flip. Fry the flip side for another minute or until done.
Remove from pan and keep warm in the oven on its lowest setting.
Add more oil/spray to the pan if and when necessary.
Repeat steps 2 to 4 until all of the mixture is used up. Serve with your chosen accompaniments.
Traditional Shrove Tuesday: sugar and lemon juice
Syrup – as well as golden syrup, try date, maple or agave (try large supermarkets or health food shops for these)
Fresh fruit with syrup as above, e.g. banana, strawberries, blueberries