Vegan Pancakes

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Every January for the past three years, I’ve forced myself to cleanse my body of the holiday deliciousness that I gorged myself on the month before. After a December of non-stop munching on the three Cs (cookies, candy, cheese), hearty meals of meat and buttery potatoes, and washing it all down with gulps of creamy, wonderful eggnog, my poor body cries out for nutritional relief. So I jump from one extreme to the other and spend a month punishing my gluttony with a diet that makes conservatives everywhere instinctively reach for their hunting rifles: veganism.

The first year I tried being vegan, it was mostly instant beans and rice. After all, I’m a baker, not a cook. I make breads and cinnamon rolls; my cupboards are filled with eight different types of flour. So I decided to use my knowledge of the chemistry of baking to create something easy, edible, and lacking flaxseed. After three Januaries, I’ve finally perfected the recipe. Voila, the ideal vegan pancake.

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup soymilk
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup applesauce

Mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together.
Pour dry ingredients into wet ones; whisk together only until dry ingredients have been absorbed. Your batter will be lumpy. Whisking too long creates two unwanted reactions: the gluten in the flour develops (making your cakes dense) and the air bubbles that make your cakes nice and fluffy escapes.

Have a hot pan or griddle ready to go. A good griddle temperature is 375 degrees. If your heat is too low, your cakes will be dry. Too high and your cakes will be tough and chewy. Pour ½ cup of batter onto the griddle and let it sit until you see bubbles rise to the top. Flip your pancake and let the other side brown. Move it onto a plate, cover it in whatever toppings you wish (I prefer good old fashioned syrup) and enjoy!

And for those of you dying to know the reasoning behind this recipe, a brief lesson: there are three main reasons eggs are used in baking. They moisten, leaven (help rise), or bind. In the case of pancakes, eggs act as a binder. They help hold the proteins and starches of the flour together. Applesauce is also a binder; therefore, ¼ cup of applesauce can be used in place of one egg in this recipe. You could also use a mashed banana, but make sure to add another ¼ cup of soy milk to help moisten the batter.

Eggs also help leaven pancakes slightly, but since pancakes are generally considered a flat food, their leavening abilities are not missed in this recipe. However, no leavening device would leave the cakes unfluffy and two-dimensional. That’s where the baking powder comes in. Baking powder is a combo of baking soda (a base) and cream of tartar (an acid). Most baking powder is double-action, meaning it’s activated twice. The first time is when it’s moistened, which creates the air pockets in your batter. The second is when heat is added- carbon dioxide is released, expands, and rises to create the little bubbles on the top of your pre-flipped pancake. I don’t use baking soda in this recipe because there is no acid to react with it (remember that baking soda and vinegar volcano you made in 5th grade?) and it would make the cakes too thick to properly cook the inside. If you want to de-veganize and add chocolate, buttermilk, or honey (all acidic) to your pancakes, throw ¼ tablespoon of baking soda in as well.

Isn’t science delicious?

by Lisa Bahr

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