The second recipe book I owned, bought for me for Christmas by Mum and Dad, via Ken the Milkman, was The Dairy Book of Home Cooking: New Edition for the 90s. I have the third edition, published in 1992. The first edition appeared in 1968, with the second, a metricated version, in 1978. I’d love to have a browse at those earlier editions; I bet they are wildly Cradock-esque. By the way, did you know Fanny’s real name was Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey? How marvellous a name is that?
I relied on this book for years – I was a new Mum the Christmas it was given to me – and it has been really useful for what I think of as “entry level” recipes; you know, a basic Victoria sandwich recipe and a fail-safe formula for Yorkshire puddings. But, since going wholly plant-based in 2015, it is perhaps unsurprising that this once-beloved book, published, remember, by the same organisation that gave us “milk’s gotta lotta bottle” and “drinka pinta milka day” has been sitting gathering dust on a shelf.
As you may recall from recent posts about this all-plant culinary odyssey of mine, I have been mulling over a few ideas: a drive to use various ingredients – some very specialist – I have acquired over the years, several of which are fast approaching best before dates; trying a recipe from each of my 100+ cookery books; and how to translate the inspiration given by the range of truly excellent vegan restaurant food Steve and I ate on a recent trip to Amsterdam to at-home food. The buckwheat pancakes we ate at Dapper oud-west (http://www.dapperbar.nl/ and Instagram @dapper_amsterdam) were light and fluffy and reminded me that I hadn’t attempted a vegan pancake recipe. This, coupled with a box of Orgran egg replacer (Twitter @OrgranUK), purchased in an “I’ve gone vegan” spending frenzy three years ago, set me to pancake creation one bright but cold Sunday morning at the end of November.
It surprised me that my (many) vegan cookbooks came up short on a pancake recipe which used a commercial egg replacer. They tended to favour soaked chia seeds or ground and soaked flax seeds. I have abundant stores of both of these seeds but wanted to try the box of egg replacement powder. So I reached for my trusty Dairy Book of Home Cooking and decided to adapt.
Using the book’s American pancakes recipe, I swapped egg replacer for eggs, precisely following the substitution ratio. For the butter, I swapped in Farringdon’s rapeseed oil (Instagram @mellowyellowkitchen) and for the milk, I used a combination of Alpro’s (Instagram @Alpro) unsweetened soya milk and a few teaspoons of Alpro’s single soya cream that was knocking about the fridge. I also dropped in about a teaspoon’s worth of Nielsen-Massey’s (Instagram @nielsenmassey) vanilla extract, because most sweet things in life taste and smell better with the addition of vanilla. Having mixed it all together, I decided the batter looked too thin, so I chucked in a few handfuls of chia seeds, swirled it around, and let the whole lot rest for half an hour. Thirty minutes later I concluded the chia seeds had worked their magic a bit too well and that the batter was now too thick, so I sloshed in another few glugs of soya milk. The lesson I took away, and which I have since applied, is that the egg replacer would have done the job perfectly well if only I had trusted it. Anyway, once I had sorted batter consistency, I got busy with a frying pan. By the way, I have no idea what my numbers in pencil on directions on the recipe relate to. My best guess would be some long-forgotten calculations on the toad in the hole ingredients which share a page with the pancake recipe.
I was really pleased with the outcome of my experiment. The batter (eventually) had a good, gloopy consistency; the rapeseed oil adding not just flavour but also a hint of golden yellow which otherwise would have been missing. The chia seeds, though not needed, did add a nice crunch. And as for the vanilla, well, see my comment above.
While the pancakes were cooking, I excavated from the bottom-left corner of the chest freezer a half-used bag of raspberries. They’d been lurking there, like a garnet-coloured iceberg, since February, having been purchased when we were in the midst of a morning smoothie fad. I heated them with a little jam sugar and, once warm, thickened with some cornflower and water: a almost-instant raspberry sauce. As a card-carrying vegan, I, of course, had a bottle of maple syrup in the cupboard. I also had a few bullet-like lemons in the bottom of the fruit basket which I subjected, with a bit of welly, to my favourite citrus-presser. Accordingly, serving options for Sunday brunch pancake stacks were with maple syrup, or Coconut Collaborative yogurt (Instagram @coconutcollab) and raspberry sauce, or, for the traditionalists, freshly-squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkle of Tate and Lyle granulated.