Vegan truck stop – now that’s an image I enjoy more than I probably should. Having grown up with truck-driving uncles (I’m talking Smokey and the Bandit era truckers), I can’t help but laugh at the thought of them pulling in to fuel up at a roadside stop run by vegans. While that’s something I’m unlikely to witness in my lifetime, I’m willing to bet that if my uncles were served a stack of these fluffy vegan truck stop pancakes, you wouldn’t hear a word of complaint from any of them. These golden griddle cakes are among the best I’ve ever eaten, vegan or otherwise.
We didn’t eat in restaurants a lot when I was a kid, but when we did, it was often a brief stop at a roadside diner to break up the long trip to visit one of my grandparents, or on our way to the nearest city with a mall suitable for back-to-school shopping (I lived in a very small town during my formative years). I was a big fan of the simple, satisfying food in those places, and pancakes were my go-to, if it was early enough.
The pancake experience was made even more magical by those shiny syrup dispensers that snap closed when you release the trigger, and those little packets of peanut butter (have I mentioned my penchant for peanut butter on pancakes?) – oh, those packets of peanut butter!! We were never allowed to have that kind at home, so it only made me want it more. There was something about that unnaturally smooth, slightly sweet creaminess that was akin to the forbidden fruit to my young self. Of course, I grew up to be the kind of person who wouldn’t dream of feeding that to her own kids, so I guess I learned a thing or two from my mom over the years.
We often have pancakes for breakfast on the weekends (they sometimes even serve as a weeknight dinner, when the cupboards are bare, or I don’t have it in me to think of something more complicated), so this was a recipe that had to be veganized if we were going to be happy. I tried many vegan pancake variations in my search, but they were often dry, flat, or just plain lacking.
Finally, I decided to try a combination of things to replace the egg, which was just the ticket – ground chia seeds bind everything together, and mashed banana adds a moist tenderness to the finished product (without adding much of a banana flavour). I knew when I stirred everything together that I had it – a good batter often has a lustre to it, and this has that.
Now, I realize that no trucker worth his mudflaps would go anywhere near a vegan pancake, let alone one made with whole wheat flour, but I usually make these with a combination of sprouted spelt and unbleached flour. I also add frozen blueberries when we have them, dropping them over the surface of the pancake batter after putting it on the griddle rather than stirring them directly into the batter; this way, I know that each pancake has the same amount of fruit, and they don’t turn the batter blue (not that I have anything against blue pancakes!).
Vegan Truck Stop Pancakes
Fluffy vegan pancakes as good as any you'd find in a classic roadside diner - minus the dairy and handlebar moustaches!
- 1 banana (mashed fine)
- 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp vinegar (white or apple cider)
- 2 cups non-dairy milk, minus 1 tablespoon (see instructions) (I prefer soy)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp non-dairy butter (melted)
- 2 1/2 cups flour (use a combination of sprouted spelt and unbleached)
- 1 tbsp baking powder (sifted if lumpy)
- 2 tsp baking soda (sifted if lumpy)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp (heaping) salt
In a medium bowl, mash banana until almost smooth. Push to one side. Add ground chia and water on one side, whisking together, and then combining with the banana. Put vinegar in measuring cup, and top up with non-dairy milk to make 2 cups. Stir in to banana mixture, along with melted butter and vanilla.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Stir until well mixed. Gradually stir wet ingredients into dry, folding until well combined (do not over mix). The batter will be fairly thick.
Heat pan or griddle to medium/medium-low heat. When hot, grease with margarine or oil, and add batter to the surface in heaping 1/4 to 1/3 cup portions. When pancakes start to look set, and the bottoms are golden (about 3 - 4 minutes, flip them and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Keep pancakes on a plate in a warm oven while you cook the rest.
Makes approximately 12 pancakes.
We usually eat these with peanut butter and syrup (either good quality maple, or homemade), but other times, when the season permits, we’ll top them with homemade coconut yogurt, sliced fresh strawberries, and/or peaches.
But honestly, these don’t need much in the way of embellishment – though a rugged vegan trucker couldn’t hurt.