Lemon Blueberry Pancakes
Pancakes are a Saturday morning staple at our house. My dad made them every Saturday morning growing up, “decorating” each cake with our initials or our ages or smiley faces (sometimes he would try to get artistic and make animal shapes, but we don’t like to talk about it).
When I grew up and had my own kids, the tradition continued. We called it “The Big Breakfast” and got pretty creative with toppings: chocolate chips, real maple syrup, fresh berries, blueberry sauce, whipped cream.
While we have moved away from the white flour, dairy, and saturated fat in traditional pancakes, I still crave the fragrant, wholesome warmth of this breakfast staple, and I have developed ways to create pancakes that satisfy both my palate and my plant-based diet.
Last Saturday, staring out the window at a field of snow icing over with freezing rain (and faced with the thought of yet another long run on the treadmill), I decided that if I couldn’t get sunshine from the Minnesota weather, at least I could eat some from my plate.
Nutritionally, these are pretty powerful: tofu and soy milk add protein; the flours add fiber and digest easily; the blueberries add antioxidants, the lemons are alkalinizing to your blood; and the coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, which leads to happier joints.
Makes 12 HUGE (5-inch) pancakes
Don’t let this list intimidate you!
- 2 lemons
- 2 1/2 cups plain soy or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup silken tofu
- 6 tablespoons agave nectar
- 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sourghum flour
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 cups frozen wild blueberries (or 2 cups fresh blueberries)
- almonds, toasted and chopped
- Zest one of the lemons and set zest aside.
- In a 4-cup glass measure or small glass bowl, combine soy milk, apple cider vinegar, and juice of one lemon. Set aside and allow the mixture to curdle. This will act as your “buttermilk.”
- In another small bowl, whisk together silken tofu, agave nectar, and the juice of the remaining lemon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and lemon zest.
- Add vanilla extract, almond extract, coconut oil, and tofu mixture to curdled “milk.” Whisk to incorporate ingredients.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. It’s okay if the batter is a little lumpy. Lumps will work themselves out, and overworking the batter will make your pancakes tough.
- You can choose to stir in the blueberries at this point. If you are using frozen blueberries, the moisture content will cause your batter to turn a lovely shade of purple. I sort of like it, but if you prefer bright yellow pancakes with orbs of blue, keep the blueberries out of the batter and follow the directions in step 10.
- Heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees or a large, flat-bottomed, non-stick pan over medium heat. Grease the cooking surface with a small amount of coconut oil.
- Ladle the batter onto the griddle or pan using a scant half cup measure. The batter will spread itself out into imperfect rounds. You can cook more than one pancake at a time, but space them out so that they don’t become one big amorphous glob on your griddle.
- If you have not added blueberries to the batter, sprinkle a couple of tablespoons onto your pancakes now. They will sink a little into the batter. Leave them alone–they don’t need help to do this.
- Okay. Here’s the hard part. Wait! I know you are hungry. And these babies (well, not really babies. They are kind of like the Honey Boo Boo of healthy pancakes) smell good. But waiting will help the outcome be edible. You see, you only ever want to flip a pancake ONE TIME. There are little air bubbles being formed in there by a chemical reaction between the baking soda and the acid of the lemon. If you flip them and flip them, you will break the bubbles, and your pancakes will be flat and tough. Definitely not tasty.
- When the edges of your pancake are dry and bubbles form in the middle, peek under the edge of your pancake to be sure it is brown. If (and only if) all of these requirements are satisfied, slide your pancake turner under your cake and flip with one swift motion. Then LEAVE IT ALONE! Do not press down on the pancake with the back of your pancake turner. (Doing this is truly the cardinal sin of pancake making. Millions of tough, half-eaten pancakes are crying out for your mercy.) Do not try to peak under the edge. Just leave it to do it’s bubbly thing. This will take at least five minutes. Drink some coffee. Or eat a grapefruit half. Toast some almonds. Clean up the kitchen. Do anything that will distract you from the temptation of pulling that pancake off the griddle before it is done.
- Now check under the pancake. Is it brown? Great. Put your ear down near the pancake (I’m serious). If it sounds kind of liquidy, it’s not done. It it sounds sizzly, it is.
- Remove the pancakes to a plate and top with all manner of pancake toppings.
- Soy milk: The protein in soy milk and almond milk is what creates the curdling effect with the lemon juice, and the curdling effect makes your pancakes more tender. Rice, hemp, and coconut milk do not have enough protein to react to the acid. If you choose soy milk, please choose organic soy. Regular soy beans are one of the most genetically modified crops in the United States.
- Tofu: Silken tofu is also called “nigari tofu,” and it is most often sold in shelf-stable packages, not in the refrigerator section. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s, but you can also find it at most grocery stores. Unlike other tofu, it is very soft and creamy in consistency, which makes it an excellent addition to pancakes. Again, go with organic.
- Flour: I used Trader Joe’s gluten free all purpose flour. I also really like Bob’s Red Mill. You can sub out any of the flours for other flours you like or have on hand. However, don’t sub out the coconut flour. Besides adding excellent nutrition, it has an absorbent quality that really helps this batter come together. If you are not gluten free, you can always substitute an equal amount of regular all purpose or whole wheat flour (3 1/2 cups). Try a blend of white and whole wheat, or use some oat flour made by processing oats in a food processor until fine.
- Coconut oil: Of course, you can use any type of neutral flavored oil you wish, including melted Earth Balance spread. However, I really love the creamy consistency of coconut oil, and cooked, it does not add a coconut flavor.
- Serving: I love topping my pancakes with bananas and nuts, so that’s what I did here. I also drizzled the lot with real maple syrup. Almond butter might be nice on these, or agave nectar and cinnamon. Red berries would also be lovely–especially fresh strawberries, which will eventually grow here, right?