Right around the time I made this blog I embarked upon an important mission: The quest to create one pancake recipe to rule them all, or at least one that could be my go-to for most of my pancake needs.
Historically I rather suck at pancakery. For years I used the same recipe, only to find that over time, for reasons unknown, it became less and less satisfying; every time I made it the returns diminished more and more. Surely, I thought, with dozens of cookbooks and the whole internet at my disposal I could come up with a recipe that was delicious and reliable!
I went through my cookbook library and a ton of vegan food blogs and collected well over a dozen recipes that fit my criteria:
- 1 – The recipes all had to use the same general set of ingredients, which had to be easy to find pantry staples, not stuff I’d have to buy special just for pancaking.
- 2 – The recipes had to be for a regular, nonflavored pancake – what you’d call “buttermilk” in omnivorous circles. If I wanted, say, pumpkin pancakes, I’d have to find a different recipe.
- 3 – The recipe had to serve 1 person generously – when I make pancakes I want to EAT SOME DAMN PANCAKES. In that regard at least I was set; I’m really good with fractions, so sizing a recipe up or down would be easy work.
I took those dozen recipes and put them in a file in my Paprika app. I then made a chart of all their ingredients, comparing and contrasting the amounts and any specific recommendations on brand or method. From this I compiled a single recipe from the chart and started experimenting.
Right away a problem presented itself: a lot of the recipes had way too much baking powder, which leaves a terrible taste in my mouth. The first two iterations of the Grand Pancake had at least a teaspoon too much, but I didn’t want to cut it down any more than I had to or the pancakes wouldn’t rise enough. Pancakery is tricky; you want to get a quick, significant rise without damaging the flavor, and you have to be careful not to overdevelop gluten in the batter and make the cakes tough and chewy. Leavening balance is key, as is technique – and technique always tended to be where my suckery reared its ugly head.
However, after two more attempts, I found what I believed to be the right balance, and by now, I’ve made this recipe at least six times with tasty, reliable results. Thus I am prepared to share with you…*drumroll*…the Grand Unified Pancake Theory!!!
I’ll be waiting to hear from the Nobel Committee.
- 1 c all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon or pie spice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 c vanilla soy or almond milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 T brown sugar
- 2 T canola oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Combine vinegar and milk in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle for a minute. Meanwhile, set a skillet over medium heat and let it start getting good and hot.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Be sure to break up any lumps of baking powder or you'll chomp down on one later and it'll be hella gross.
- Add the other wet ingredients to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Whisk briskly but for as little time as possible - get most of the lumps out but be careful not to overbeat. Let the batter sit for a couple of minutes while your pan finishes heating up.
- Using a ladle or ice cream scoop, pour out a 4" ameba (good luck making a circle) and allow to cook until the whole surface is covered in bubbles and the edges look dry. Flip and cook for the same amount of time. Try not to flip again if you can avoid it - again, it'll make the cakes toughen up.
- Remove from the pan, slather with vegan butter, and stack up on a plate. Eat as you are wont to eat pancakes.
- Patience is key when it comes to pancaking. Letting the batter rest for 2 minutes or so before you start cooking will do wonders for your cakes. However, the cardinal rule of pancaking is that the first pancake is probably going to be a dud - it'll burn, it'll be raw in the middle, or something. Hitting the sweet spot of batter thickness and pan temperature usually takes a cake or two. Luckily, dogs love mangled reject pancakes.
- You can use any other sweetener you like in place of the brown sugar - regular old white is fine, as is real maple syrup. I find that the brown sugar gives a nice sweetness without being cloying, and the molasses undertone adds depth to the overall flavor profile. It works especially nicely with the cinnamon - which you can also substitute with pumpkin pie spice, "baking" spice like they sell at Penzey's (https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/baking-spice/), or something similar. Feel free to leave the spice out entirely if you prefer, but again, it adds a something-something almost too subtle to name but delightful to taste.
- Also, use whatever vegetable oil you have in place of canola if need be - just not olive oil or another strongly-flavored oil. I imagine coconut would work too if you're into that sort of thing.