Simple, delicious vegan pancakes

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On Friday, when I brought my sleepy son to the kitchen for breakfast and sat him at the table and asked him what he’d like to eat – peanut butter and jam on toast or cereal being the options – he said, “pancakes. We haven’t had pancakes in forever and I love pancakes.” I told him we couldn’t make pancakes on weekdays but the weekend was coming.

And then yesterday, when I was baking a double batch of muffins to freeze for school lunches, he excitedly came running down the stairs. “I smell pancakes!” Poor guy, I had completely forgotten. It’s a good thing he likes muffins!

So this morning, the first thing I did was make a double batch of pancakes. This batch will last a few breakfasts popped into the toaster and nibbled as a snack.

If you’re new to vegan baking, you may wonder how the pancakes are made without egg or milk and if they turn out well. We have numerous recipes for pancakes, plain, banana flapjacks, pumpkin and anything else you can imagine and they’re all delicious.

Here’s a simple recipe you can use and adapt as you wish. Top it with fresh fruit, a berry sauce but most importantly, pure maple syrup. This recipe is based on Perfect Pancakes in Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz – it’s a great book for breakfast-lovers.

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Vegan pancakes

  • 1 1/4 cup of flour (I use half whole-wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (like grape seed oil)
  • 1 1/3 cup vegan milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat and oil a well-seasoned griddle. Make sure it’s hot.

Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Add the wet to the dry and mix until there are only small lumps.

Pour batter onto the griddle – once bubbles are forming, flip. Serve warm with maple syrup.

I always make double batches because you can never have too many (and one batch doesn’t fill four people up). Reheat pancakes by popping them in the toaster.

Surprise! Jam-filled bran muffins

vegan muffin
These little muffins are the perfect size for snacking.

Whenever he’s given the chance to choose his muffin, my little picky eater goes for the bran muffins over cookies or other kinds of muffins. And I sit there and watch in amazement as he happily gobbles it down. Vegan kids don’t necessarily need the extra fibre from the bran but why should we miss out on all the branny fun?

By definition, a vegan diet is high in fibre. Fibre comes from plant foods but isn’t present in animal products. Everything we eat is a source of fibre unless the fibre has been removed through processing (like white flour). Fruit is a great source of fibre – the little seeds in raspberries are a good example of a fibre-rich food.

I won’t go into detail but suffice it to say that a clean colon is a healthy colon. When foods move through the body smoothly and waste is eliminated daily, we’re able to extract all the nutrients from the food we consume and the risk of many diseases are reduced.

Here’s a little muffin that will make you go and make you smile too. It’s loaded with fibre from bran, whole wheat flour, chia seeds and depending on the jam you choose to use, you may get fibre from that.

But the best thing about these muffins is the jam at the centre. I’ve used my favourite jam – it’s apple pie jam that I made from the apples we picked at a local farm in the fall. It contains all the goodness of pie in a form that I can use every day. Mmmm! The recipe is from this book: The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes.

This muffin recipe makes 24 small muffins. I like to bake huge batches of baked goods on the weekends so I can freeze some for snacks to pack in the kids’ lunches during the week. If I only make 12, they’ll be gone before I get to freeze some. These little muffins fit nicely in our reusable containers even when frozen solid (an important feature for me)!

The recipe is based on one from The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets. The ingredients have been adapted based on what I had on hand and what my kids like to eat. They’re also nut-free so they can be sent to school.

Surprise! Jam-filled muffins

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups bran
  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour (can use all-purpose or regular whole wheat)
  •  1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cup vegan milk (I use soy)
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 jar of jam

Preheat the oven to 425 and grease muffin tins for 24 muffins.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the chia seeds with water and put them aside to allow the seeds to absorb the water.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well.

Tip: Use a whisk to make sure there are no clumps of brown sugar.

Add the milk and the canola oil to the bowl with the chia seeds. Use the whisk to make sure you break up the large clumps of chia seeds.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine – don’t use a whisk because you don’t want to over mix the batter.

vegan jam muffins
Add one teaspoon of jam in the centre of each muffin.

Scoop 1/3 cup of batter for each muffin into the tins. Add a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each muffin. Then distribute the rest of the muffin batter to top each muffin. You want the jam in the middle of the muffin – if it sinks to the bottom, it will stick to the bottom of the tin. If it’s not covered with batter, the sugary jam would show and ruin the surprise.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let it cool a few minutes before removing them from the tins.

vegan muffins for snacks
Not too little, not too big.

 

 

Gingerbread with dried fruit

Christmas gingerbread
Gingerbread straight from the oven.

I often make muffins or a sweet bread on weekends to have on hand for making lunches throughout the week. They’re a healthier option than the store bought ones, which are often not vegan or if they are, they’re expensive. Making snacks at home is easy, cheap and allows for customization.

Since it’s December, I made a loaf of gingerbread and filled it with dried fruit. The result is moist, delicious and perfect for this time of year. When I cut it open, I grabbed a couple pieces for lunches because the rest almost disappeared in one sitting!

Gingerbread

Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed! For the fruit combination, I used what what I had in the cupboard. You can use whatever combination you have on hand: apples and raisins would work well.

A word about the chia seeds: this is what I used in place of an egg. You can use ground flax seeds or another method if you’d like but the chia seeds work well and aren’t noticeable in the finished bread. Other options would be a mashed banana or applesauce with baking powder – I’m sure they would be delicious substitutions.

Gingerbread with cranberries, apricots and currants.

Gingerbread with dried fruit

  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (can use all-purpose flour or a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)
  • 3 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup soymilk (or other vegan milk)
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the chia seeds and water and stir well. Put them aside to thicken.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, oil, molasses and soymilk. Mix well. Add the chia seed mixture and stir.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the dried fruit and mix.

Pour the mixture into a lightly greased bread pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool slightly before removing it from the pan.

Enjoy!

Vegan gingerbread slices
The gingerbread is studded with cranberries, apricots and currants.

Gingerbread people and elves

 

Advent calendar
The advent calendar I made eight years ago.

For my daughter’s first Christmas, I made an advent calendar. On a poster-sized piece of red felt, I sewed white pockets numbered one to 25 in red. On 25 pieces of paper, I wrote Christmas activities that we could do together as a family and inserted them into the pockets of the calendar.

Some of the Christmas activities are simple like “read a Christmas story” and some are more involved like “make Christmas presents” or “make a gingerbread house.” I tried not to set the bar too high most days. Each year, I go through them and move the more complicated activities to the weekends and the quick ones to weeknights. I shifted all the snow-related activities to late December since there’s no sign of snow here.

The kids love going through the pockets and reading the activities so the pockets are showing some wear and tear. This year, I told them there’d be no snooping! We’ll see if they can manage to keep from exploring the pockets.

Each year, I consider making a nicer one because I took a lot of shortcuts when I originally made this and I could make something nicer but I don’t think the kids would let me change it.

Gingerelf cookies

Today’s Christmas activity was to bake gingerbread cookies. The recipe I use is from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Treats.

I used three sizes of cookie cutters and put each size on its own sheet since they all require different baking times. The kids helped me with the cutting and placing on the cookie sheets.

vegan gingerbread
Little gingerbread people straight out of the oven.

We may decorate a few with icing but they’re tasty on their own – a little army of goodness. If we can find time, we’ll make sugar cookies too and decorate those ones with colourful icing.

gingerbread cookies
Big gingerbread cookies cooling.

What’s your favourite Christmas cookie?

Whole wheat cranberry muffins

cranberry muffins

Packing the kids’ lunches last night, I realized we were running low on healthy snacks. These are my go-to muffins – little tasty treats that fit nicely in our reusable containers. Packed with whole grain goodness and studded with cranberries, these little muffins hit the spot every time.

The recipe is based on the cranberry muffin recipe in Vegan Food Gifts: More Than 100 Inspired Recipes for Homemade Baked Goods, Preserves, and Other Edible Gifts Everyone Will Love. This book has some great ideas for packaging treats and vegan edibles for family members.

It’s quite smart, really. I have found it useful to fill my pantry with prepped meals – with all the dry ingredients layered in mason jars waiting to be added to boiling water. They’re great to have on hand for babysitters on date nights.

The original recipe is meant to be given away as a muffin mix with the baking instructions added on a pretty card. The baker only has to add the wet ingredients and bake. I’ve made a few changes so I’ll post my version below.

My recipe has swapped whole wheat flours for all-purpose flour – I’ve also doubled the batch to make 24 since 12 muffins don’t last long in my house. The extra muffins go in the freezer for future lunches.

vegan cranberry muffins
They taste great topped with a bit of vegan butter.

Whole wheat cranberry muffins

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups soy milk

Combine the dry ingredients, add the cranberries, oil and milk and stir until combined. Fill muffin tins (makes 24 muffins) and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to sneak some fresh muffins into the freezer for strategic lunch placements.

Sprouted quinoa bread

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Sprouting grains increases many of the grain’s essential nutrients and makes it easier for the body to absorb many of these nutrients. There is even some evidence that sprouted grains are more digestible to people with sensitivities. But sprouted breads are very pricey. Save a few coins by making your own.

I developed this recipe as a way to reduce food waste when making cashew cheese. Miyoko Schinner‘s cheese making method from her book The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples, involves making rejuvelac, a fermented liquid made with sprouted quinoa. The rejuvelac is used to culture the cashew cheese.

Making rejuvelac

To make rejuvelac, soak 1/2 cup quinoa in a clean 1-quart wide-mouth jar overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the quinoa, cover the jar with a dish towel and let the grains sprout, rinsing them twice a day. When the grains develop little tails (about 24 hours later), they’re finished sprouting.

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Fill the jar with fresh water, cover with a lid and leave it at room temperature but out of the sunlight for a couple days. The rejuvelac is done when the water is cloudy and bubbly. At this point, pour the rejuvelac in its own jar ready for use.

What about the quinoa?

When the rejuvelac was done, I looked at my little sprouted quinoa and thought there had to be a use for these nutritious grains. I had seen the sprouted bread in the freezer aisle at the grocery store and knew its reputation for being more nutritious. And so, this recipe was developed.

To be fair, I haven’t sprouted all the grains I’ve used in this bread so I wouldn’t say this bread would be easier to digest than your average whole grain wheat bread but it is delicious and includes a sprouted nutritional powerhouse.

So when my son takes a plain hummus sandwich to school for lunch but I’ve made it on this sprouted quinoa bread, I’m confident he’s having a good meal. Quinoa is a good source of protein, iron, fibre and magnesium.

You don’t have to make rejuvelac to get sprouted grains, just soak the grains overnight then drain and rinse them twice daily until they grow little tails. You can sprout other grains too. They can be used in any bread recipe – treat them like a wet ingredient and reduce the amount of water you use.

For my sprouted quinoa bread, I’ve mixed a wet dough that I’ll keep in the fridge to make fresh bread throughout the week as needed. If you want to know more about how it’s done, see my post about my Rye Boule.

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Here’s the recipe.

Sprouted quinoa bread

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 cup sprouted quinoa
  • 3 1/3 cups lukewarm water

Combine the dry ingredients in a stand mixer – turn it on low for a few seconds to give the ingredients a stir. Add the sprouted quinoa and water and stir until everything is evenly distributed and there is no more dry patches. Cover with a dish towel, clean plate or loose-fitting lid and place on the counter for a few hours (at least two hours but it doesn’t matter if you leave it longer).

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With flour on your hands, pull out a sizeable piece of dough and shape it into a ball. Put it on a floured cutting board to rise while the oven and pizza stone preheat. Slip the rest of the dough into the fridge to use later.

When the stone is hot, slash the top of the loaf, brush it with water and sprinkle it with some dry quinoa or other seeds. Slide it onto the pizza stone to bake. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes.

Now you have enough dough in the fridge to make a couple more loaves at your convenience. Shape and let the dough rise on a floured board while the oven and pizza stone preheat and continue the same as above.

Have you ever sprouted grains? How do you use them? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear what works for you.

Orange layered cake with vanilla buttercream icing

It’s my husband’s birthday today so I wanted to make an extra special cake in his favourite flavour – orange.

Vegan orange cake
Orange infused cake with vanilla buttercream icing.

He likes light, fresh flavours – nothing too complicated or fancy. This cake is based on the Light Lemon Bundt Cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets. The original lemon is one of my favourites – I make it in the summer when I crave everything lemon. But this cake was not for me and I had a nice bowl full of juicy oranges begging to be used.

I paired the orange cake with the Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting from my trusty Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule. It’s a perfectly simple icing that I use all the time.

four layer cake

I wanted this cake to be extra special so I doubled the recipe to make four layers.

Orange layered cake

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons egg replacer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup freshly orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup soy or almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons orange extract
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sift the dry ingredients together. In a stand mixer, mix the egg replacer with the water on medium speed. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Combine with the dry ingredients. Divide into four round cake pans and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Vegan orange birthday cake

The orange flavour of the cake was divine. Juicing the oranges made all the difference to the flavour too, I think.

I’m not the most patient cake decorator and the cake and icing together are sweet enough so I prefer a fresh fruit topping. I sliced an orange thinly and arranged the rounds on the top of the cake.

Vegan orange birthday cake

I could use some fresh cake decorating ideas – any ideas? Let me know how you decorate your cakes.