Loveliest Lemon Vegan Pancakes. Comfort Food Breakfast.

This is sure to bring you and your family a good morning: You float into the kitchen, lured by a buttery, warm vanilla aroma. On the table: a tall, golden, fluffy stack of steamy pancakes with a silky melting pat of vegan butter on top - rivers of flowing maple syrup streaming over the top and down the sides, pooling on the plate, slowly soaking into the round pillows of bliss. You pull up a seat and grab a shiny silver fork. You press the side of your fork into the pancakes and slice out a triangle-shaped bite. One taste and cozy vanilla-cinnamon floods your senses and the light yet lively accent of fresh lemon zest perks you up. Maple melts your into a dreamy state. These are my loveliest lemon pancakes..

Craving Pancakes. I have been aching to post another pancake recipe lately. Mostly because 1) I do not have nearly enough pancake recipes in my recipe index and 2) I think I have finally (truly) mastered the art of perfect vegan pancakes. I used to think the key to pancake success was the batter - but it is actually in the technique! You can have the perfect batter and still manage to come out with burnt, floppy, #fail pancakes if you do not have the proper cooking method. Today I'll share my recipe for Loveliest Lemon Vegan Pancakes and a few pancake making techniques I use for fluffy, warm, golden, pillow-y, delicious vegan pancakes.

It has been a rough weekend and I'm craving some comfort, so lets warm up a frying pan and bring some pancake visions to life...

And these were some sprouted grain pancakes, a bit nuttier in texture..

And as I mentioned above, pancake success is reliant upon proper cooking technique. So here are my tips:

Perfect Vegan Pancakes: Success Tips!

1. Warm the Pan. The most important tip I can give is to give your pan or skillet a good long while to warm up and evenly distribute heat throughout the pan. Pancakes are quite delicate, so while they do not need high heat, they do need even heat. Otherwise they are likely to burn or cook unevenly. Do this -> turn your burner on low and heat your pan for a good 3-5 minutes before dropping your first bit of batter. I usually warm on high for a half minute before starting my cooking session, then continue the actual cooking part on a very low-medium heat setting.

2. Slow and Low. Pancakes cannot be rushed. Cooking over a high heat setting will surely burn the edges or full surface of your pancakes. The best trick I have found is to literally cook them in a fully warmed pan (as described above) and let the pancake cook very slowly on a low heat setting. The bubbles start to break through and the edges crisp up and soon you can easily flip the pancake. Then once the pancake is flipped I will turn the heat up for a few seconds and the pancake is quickly done. Most of the cooking should be done on the first side. You should only flip your pancake once - if you are flipping more than once you probably didn't give your pancake enough time to slow and low cook after pouring the batter.

3. Oil. I find that a tiny splash of oil before each pancake gets spread really does help both the texture and cooking speed and ease of the pancake. The edges get slightly crispy and fluffy in a lightly fried sort of way. But you do not need a lot of oil! Just a tiny 1/4-1/2 tsp drizzle spread evenly over the pan.

4. Egg replacer. While not necessary at all, an egg replacer can give your pancakes more body. Another way to give your pancakes more body is to add things like fruit, ground or whole rolled oats, chopped nuts and more.

5. Whip that Batter! Fluffy pancakes need some air in the batter. So be sure to use enough baking powder combined with some sort of an acid in your batter. Here I used lemon juice. Vinegar or another citrus juice also works. Then fully whip your batter into a fluffy state before pouring onto your hot skillet. I do not use a beater, but rather just a tall, skinny bowl and a fork or spoon to fluff my batter by hand.

Hope those tips helped a bit. Any questions? Ask in the comments section and I will try to help. (Oh and I am not exactly sure how a gluten free flour does in this recipe, but it should do just fine. Some sort of binding addition/egg replacer should help too.)

Loveliest Lemon Vegan Pancakes
vegan, makes 4 large pancakes or 8 small

1 cup vanilla soy or almond milk
1 cup + 1 Tbsp flour
*(I have used both whole wheat pastry flour or sprouted grain spelt flour recently - you may substitute the flour you have on hand. GF should work, although the egg replacer is advised for added binding)
1 Tbsp lemon juice + 1/2 tsp fresh zest
1/4 tsp lemon extract (optional - or add more fresh zest)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar (I used a raw vegan sugar)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp oil (sunflower oil used)
dash of cinnamon
optional egg replacers: 1 mashed banana OR 1/4 cup apple sauce OR 1 tsp freshly ground flax seeds

for pan: additional oil (sunflower or high heat virgin coconut oil are my favorites)


(read through instructions before starting)

1. Add your dry ingredients to a bowl that is somewhat tall and narrowly rimmed - this helps with more air in the batter I have found. Stir dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients - non-dairy milk, oil and extracts. Fold well. Lastly, add the optional egg replacer and the lemon juice and zest. Whip the batter as it becomes fluffy from the acid combining with the baking powder.

2. While you are whipping your batter in step one you can be warming your pan. Have your burner on low as you start to warm and heat your skillet or frying pan. You want your pan to be evenly warmed and quite hot and toasty before starting your pancake cooking.

3. Once your skillet is warmed evenly (a good 3-5 minutes) and your batter is fluffy, add a small splash of oil to your pan and distribute it on the pan by rolling the pan around. Add a 1/2 cup or so of batter (depending on what size pancake you want) and allow it to spread in the pan. Make sure your range is on a low-medium heat setting. Allow the pancake to slowly cook - as tiny bubbles form through the surface of the batter. When the edges are obviously formed, cooked, fluffy, not wet, and you can skim the bottom edges of the pancake easily with your spatula, flip your pancake. You can turn up the heat a bit now to finish things off. Most of the cooking should be done before that first flip!

Tip: to speed up the cooking process, you can cover the skillet with a lid for the first minute of cooking to trap in heat and cook that top side of the pancake a bit faster - still using low heat.

4. Transfer cooked pancake to paper towel-ed plate and repeat until all the batter is gone. Add a new 1/4 tsp splash of oil to the pan before each new pancake.

5. Serve warm with vegan butter and maple syrup.

~ side story: Nellycat ~

Rough Saturday. Nothing too serious so far, but a routine kitty check-up for little NellyCat and all the sudden my husband and I were face first in misery, worry and concern. Nelly has diabetes, which is well managed, but we are always checking up on it. Especially since she has been acting slightly off lately (odd low blood sugar readings and a slight change in appetite.) So overly cautious, always, we took her for a check-up to the vet. We had some routine bloodwork done on a walk-in appointment and made an appointment with a specialist, so we could go over the results and discuss any issues. Well her bloodwork revealed that while her diabetes seems to be doing just fine, another issue was at hand. Her liver. There seemed to be some inflammation in her liver.

So the specialist wanted to do an ultrasound, which we approved as we waited in the bustling Saturday afternoon vet lobby. Tiny puppies barking, cuddle pups perched on their owners warm laps and a few dogs with cones around their sweet tired faces. And of course a few inconspicuous cats, casually merrow-ing from their carriers.

After waiting a good while, the vet came out and explained that there was some fluid around Nelly's liver and it was slightly discolored with a few misshapen edges. My insides started screaming and internally, I flung into panic mode. My face felt hot and heavy, my eyes glazed over. I could've started balling on the spot right there in the lobby, but I held it together since I knew that would be best for Nelly - listening to the vet and asking questions. But right now, unfortunately, we don't know exactly what is up. The vet said we needed another test, so they did a needle test into the liver, while again we waited. The results from that test come back Monday. Poor little Nelly finally emerged in her carrier as a kind vet tech said she was such a good cat and allowed them to easily do all the tests. Nelly always gets rave reviews because while she is very shy with strangers, she is overwhelmingly sweet in nature. We took Nelly's carrier and waited for the chart to come out so we could check out and receive a prescription. Holding her again and looking into her confused little eyes was when I broke and pulled on my sunglasses, sinking into a corner chair in the busy lobby, quietly pulling tissues from the box on the table. A mess. I just turn into a mess with anything involving Nelly. I have been a freaking mess all weekend. My swollen eyes are the size of golf balls right now and I am just so upset about this all. The vet gave us an antioxidant medication to start her on, which involves me having to force a pill down her throat first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) as she digs her claws into my arm in annoyance. I don't blame her. (She is too tricky for the pill pockets - she eats her way around the pill every time.) So today, we wait. And think good thoughts. And give tons of kitty kisses.

I wanted to share this with you guys because I know many of you are longtime animal lovers and cat owners. I am wondering if anyone has gone through liver issues with their cat(s) and maybe had some advice to share. I know I will have more into on Monday, but I am still interested in any thoughts from fellow kitty owners. Our vet is pretty clinical in tone so I guess I am also seeking some emotional reassurance that cats can heal from liver issues (which is what I have read online) and be better than new! The worst feeling in the world is helplessness when confronting health struggles, both with humans and pets. So anything I can do to be proactive, I am eager to do. Any advice or comfort words kitty owners? I could sure use some.

So today, some comfort food. Pancakes. Perfect.

Breakfast Bonus: My Pancake Rules + Serving Solutions:

1. If I don't have at least a few bites of pancake that are soaked in maple syrup, I did something wrong. Solution: more maple syrup.
2. My pancakes are probably never going to look like those pretty, perfectly round magazine photos, but they taste so amazing I really don't care. Solution: Stop comparing my pancakes to Martha Stewart's stack.
3. Vegan butter and maple syrup are not optional ingredients upon serving. They are must-have items. Solution: Never ever make pancakes without these on hand.
6. Making a few "baby" pancakes along the way are a must. They not only taste yummy, but are oh so fun to flip. Solution: Use up those last few spoonfuls of better making baby pancakes.
7. While eating a giant plate of pancakes, one never brings up the subject of calories, dieting or overindulgence. Solution: If you want a guilt-free plate, just watch your portion sizes. Otherwise, don't stress about an occasional pancake bonanza.
8. While enjoying my delicious plate of vegan pancakes I almost always have this thought cross my mind: "IHOP, McDonald's and everyone else who says that pancakes need animal products to be yummy, take a bite of these!!" Solution: Lets tweet this post to IHOP and hope they get the message.
9. Fancy fruit toppings, vegan whipped cream and other intricate toppings while fun, are in my mind totally unnecessary. Solution: Pancakes, vegan butter and maple syrup. Done and done. And ok, if you want to get fancy, add some blueberries.

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