Vegan pancakes are a delicious breakfast option for all humans everywhere all of the time…
While recipes for vegan pancakes are widely available, understanding the science behind pancake-making can take your breakfast game to the next level (and allow you to experiment with your own recipes at home!).
In this article, I’ll explore the fascinating chemistry and physics behind vegan pancake recipes and how understanding these principles can help you create the perfect pancake every time. By understanding the importance of each ingredient and the role of heat and timing, you’ll be able to make pancakes that are fluffy, tender, and delicious. Don’t worry, this wont be *too* deep!
The Chemistry of Vegan Pancake Batter
To understand the chemistry of vegan pancake batter, it’s important to take a closer look at the key ingredients. Flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt are the basic ingredients in any pancake batter.
Flour is the foundation of any pancake batter, and it provides the structure for the pancake. Gluten, a protein found in wheat flour, is what gives pancakes their chewy texture. However, gluten-free flours like almond, oat, or chickpea can also be used to make amazing vegan pancakes!
Baking Powder helps the pancake rise. It contains a mixture of baking soda and an acid, such as cream of tartar. When baking powder is mixed with liquid, it produces carbon dioxide gas, which creates bubbles in the batter and causes it to rise. Additionally, you can utilise vinegar or lemon juice to create acidity.
Sugar not only adds sweetness to the pancakes, but it also plays a role in the chemistry of the batter. Sugar helps to brown the pancakes by caramelising and creating a golden crust.
Salt enhances the flavour of the pancakes, but it also strengthens the gluten in the flour, which helps to hold the batter together.
In addition to these basic ingredients, vegan pancake batters often contain plant-based milk, oil, and other flavourings. Plant-based milk provides moisture and a creamy texture to the batter; oil, such as coconut or canola, also helps to create a tender and moist pancake.
By understanding how each ingredient in the batter contributes to the chemistry of the pancake, you can make informed decisions about substitutions and modifications to create the perfect vegan pancake.
The Physics of Vegan Pancakes
In addition to understanding the chemistry of the vegan pancake batter, it’s also important to understand the physics of pancake cooking. Heat plays a critical role in creating the perfect pancake, and understanding how heat interacts with the batter and the pan can help you achieve the ideal pancake texture and flavour.
When heat is applied to the pancake batter, the baking powder and acid in the batter react to produce carbon dioxide gas, causing the pancake to rise. The heat also causes the moisture in the batter to evaporate, creating steam that helps to further leaven the pancake and create a light and fluffy texture.
To get the right temperature for perfect pancakes, it’s important to preheat the pan before adding the batter. A medium-low heat is ideal for cooking pancakes, as it allows the pancakes to cook evenly without burning. A hot pan will cause the batter to cook too quickly on the outside, leaving the centre raw, while a low heat will cause the pancakes to cook too slowly, resulting in a tough and rubbery texture.
The type of pan you use is also important when cooking pancakes. A nonstick pan is ideal, as it helps to prevent the pancakes from sticking and allows for easy flipping. Cast iron pans are also a popular choice for pancake-making, as they distribute heat evenly and create a crispy crust on the outside of the pancake.
Before cooking your pancakes, it’s important to prepare the pan properly. This can include greasing the pan with oil or cooking spray, wiping away any excess oil, and using a paper towel to evenly distribute the oil across the surface of the pan.
Understanding the physics of pancake cooking is vital to achieving the perfect texture and flavour for your vegan pancakes. Paying attention to heat, pan selection, and preparation can make all the difference in creating pancakes that are tender, fluffy, and delicious.
Troubleshooting Common Vegan Pancake Problems
Even with the best ingredients and techniques, sometimes things can go wrong when making vegan pancakes. Here are some tips for avoiding common pancake pitfalls and troubleshooting issues that may arise:
- Tough or rubbery pancakes: Over-mixing the batter or using too much flour can result in tough, rubbery pancakes. Be sure to mix the batter gently until just combined, and use a measuring cup to accurately measure the flour.
- Flat pancakes: If your pancakes aren’t rising properly, it could be due to expired baking powder or baking soda. Be sure to check the expiration date of these ingredients, and use fresh ones if necessary.
- Burnt pancakes: Cooking pancakes over too high heat or leaving them on the pan for too long can result in burnt pancakes. Be sure to cook pancakes over medium-low heat, and flip them when the edges begin to look set.
- Unevenly cooked pancakes: If your pancakes are cooking unevenly, it could be due to uneven heat distribution in the pan. Be sure to preheat the pan thoroughly, and consider using a cast iron pan, which distributes heat more evenly.
- Batter that’s too thick or too thin: If your pancake batter is too thick, add a small amount of plant-based milk to thin it out. If the batter is too thin, add a bit more flour to thicken it up. It’s important to keep in mind that different types of flour can absorb different amounts of liquid, so you may need to adjust the amount of liquid or flour based on the specific type of flour you’re using.
By understanding these common problems and troubleshooting tips, you can avoid some of the most common issues that can arise when making vegan pancakes. With a bit of practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to make perfect pancakes every time!