Pumpkin Pancakes (V)
A few days ago was Mountain Day! A pretty rad Smith tradition wherein our president cancels all classes on a beautiful fall day and we’re free to do whatever we like! Technically. This year’s mountain day happened on a fairly overcast Monday, so I enjoyed the outside air for a bit (read: I sipped on a mug of coffee while standing on my patio) but mostly hung with friends in my apartment and then went to my night class BECAUSE NIGHT CLASSES DON’T APPLY TO MOUNTAIN DAY GOD DAMMIT. So, yeah, not the greatest way to end my Smith-Mountain-Day-Journey. But I started out the day the right way- with pancakes!
Want to know the secret to frying vegan pancakes? Coconut oil. Lots. And a REALLY GOOD nonstick pan at the perfect temperature. If you do not have these things you should probably just make waffles. Otherwise you will be in a pickle. For the first three pancakes I didn’t use enough oil and the heat was up too high (the latter is what happens when you grow up using a gas stove with a temperature range 1-6 and then move into an apartment with an electric stove and temperature range 1-10). I stood over three different pans with three different kinds of oil -olive, coconut, and vegan butter- all smoking and sizzling like crazy and none coming out right. At one point I was scraping up a half uncooked half almost burnt lumpy pancake and my spatula broke. Literally fell into two pieces in the skillet. So I threw the entire contents of the pan into the trash and then tried again. That time the pancake cooked well enough but the batter seemed too thick (my original recipe included less liquid) and it was basically a hockey puck. A tasty hockey puck, but not what I was looking for in a pancake. My roommates tasted said hockey puck pancake and tried to assure me it was fine- good, even. But this did not make me feel better. I pride myself on making food that tastes and looks good. I could tell what they were thinking, “why all the vegan recipes, girl? They seem to cause you a lot of anguish” Answer: even though I am not a vegan, I really like vegan food and am truly interested in the science behind alternative and special diet-oriented cooking. I’ve made many a normal pancake and now is the time to experiment. So I went back into the kitchen, determined this endeavor would not be a flop. It would not become ‘that time Becca tried to make everyone pancakes and failed even though she has a cooking blog and clearly thinks she knows how to make food’.
So I stood there, staring at the sticky counter covered in pumpkin, baking soda, and crushed dreams, feeling very sorry for myself. It was getting dangerously close to The Falafel Incident (in which I attempted a scary new falafel recipe in an attempt to wow my parents and boyfriend. Long story short, I ended up sitting on the floor, stained in oil and crying. They’re serious troopers for putting up with me, let me tell you). Fast forward to me on Mountain Day. Another kitchen, another frustrating frying encounter. Press play. What am I doing if I can’t even make a pancake? I should just throw this all out the window and have a bowl of yogurt. And then I realized I was being fucking ridiculous. I’m supposed to be an adult. Adults don’t let less-than-perfect pancakes ruin their mornings, let alone destroy their self confidence. I pulled myself together. I added more almond milk. I added water, one tablespoon at a time. I made another pot of coffee. I reheated a pan and spooned out batter. And, lo and behold, successful pancakes were put on a plate. Pancakes of which I was actually quite proud!
I will not find all the solutions to my problems in a stack of pancakes, but sometimes determination pays off. And if one can feel vindicated by a tower of fried cakes, life is really not bad. Not bad at all.
Pancakes (loosely adapted from The First Mess and For Love and Lemons)
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
1/4 c water
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 ripe banana
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 pinches sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp fresh grated ginger)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash maple syrup (optional)
coconut oil (for frying)
In a small bowl, whisk together the water, non-dairy milk, and pumpkin until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Whisk well. Fold in the pumpkin mixture, maple syrup, vanilla extract. Combine completely, but don’t overmix!
Heat a large nonstick skillet (vegan pancakes are notoriously stubborn, don’t use a regular pan) over medium heat . Brush the pan with additional melted coconut oil. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and the edges look cooked. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another minute. Remove pancakes and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter and stud with maple syrup, date syrup, melted coconut oil, or jam until you’ve fed all your roommates and yourself in the most festively autumnal manner!