Carrot Cake Pancakes (Vegan)

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     For someone with a serious sweet tooth, pancakes are a quick and convenient way of whipping together a satisfying meal using ingredients that I already have on hand. They are also a low risk way of experimenting with a variety of wheat and non-wheat flours, and are easily made without eggs or dairy. Lately it has become a worthy challenge for me to prepare all the food that I make for myself with ingredients that are organic but also cheap and accessible, and as a result pancakes have become a staple in my diet. If you can’t find organic currants, a 1/4 cup of raisins or chopped dried apples make tasty alternatives. Top these fancy hotcakes with freshly sliced bananas and maple syrup and invite your best vegan friends over for breakfast.

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 Carrot Cake Pancakes (Vegan)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unbleached white pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour), spooned and leveled

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled

1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

1 1/4 cup almond milk or other non-dairy milk

3 tablespoons organic raw sugar or sweetener of choice (I often use sucanat)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup shredded carrot, lightly packed

3 tablespoons organic dried currants

Method:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the currants and toss to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour for the wet ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the almond milk, raw sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Try to dissolve the sugar as much as possible by giving the mixture the occasional whisk until it is time to combine the liquid with the dry ingredients.

Heat some oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Prepare the shredded carrot while you wait for the pan to become hot.

Add the grated carrot to the wet ingredients and give the mixture a final good stir. Poor the liquid into the centre of the flour and use a wooden spoon or a small stiff spatula to stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Begin in the center and work outwards, slowly drawing the flour into the milk in circular motions until no streaks of flour remain.

Spoon 1/4 cup sized scoops onto the hot pan. Let the pancakes cook until there are open holes on the top of the cakes and the edges are a noticeably darker colour. Flip the pancakes and cook for several minutes more until the bottoms are a dark golden brown. Serve immediately.

Brown Butter Spiced Madeleines

Earlier this week I ventured into the heart of hipster Toronto, to visit my old haunting grounds in Kensington Market. This is one of my favourite places in the world for several reasons, but what really keeps me coming back is the sheer density of food, art, and fashion jammed into one energetic space. Nothing gets me excited like the thought of more culturally diverse markets, spice stores, and delicatessens than I know what to do with. It did not take me long to spot a bakery that had sprung up in my absence, and I was dancing when I realized I was in for a treat. Go to Blackbird Baking Co. and get yourself some bread, because the wholegrain Pullman I took home set a whole new standard. And if vegan restaurants and vintage clothing is more your thing, there is plenty of that in the area as well.

With it being fall, the season in which we add spice to everything, my main mission was to restock my depleted spice cabinet. A fist-full of whole nutmegs, ground ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, all-spice, and Chinese 5-spice together create the base of a solid winter horde. Since balancing spice is an acquired skill, I thought what better to learn than to whip up batches of bite-sized madeleines, each flavoured with a slightly different combination of spices. After much munching, this version emerged as the winner.

Brown Butter Spiced Madeleines
adapted from Epicurious, Spiced Madeleines

Ingredients: 

3 3/4 oz unsalted butter, browned and cooled*
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (94g)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon (or 1/2 teaspoon regular cinnamon)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
large pinch all-spice
pinch salt
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 large eggs, at room temperature

*Click here to learn how to make brown butter

Method: 

Brown the butter. Whisk in the vanilla extract and let cool to lukewarm.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, all-spice, and salt.

Whisk the eggs and sugars together until well combined.

Add the flour to the egg/sugar mixture and gently whisk, or fold with a rubber spatula, until no streaks of flour remain. Quickly fold in the cooled butter just until you have a uniform batter.

Cover the top of the batter with plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Butter and flour a madeleine pan. Fill each cavity 2/3 full with the chilled batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350ºF and bake for another 6-8 minutes or until the centers spring back to the touch.

Turn the madeleines out onto a wire cooling rack. Dust with icing sugar just before serving, or drizzle with a simple glaze of water and icing sugar once they have cooled.