I usually make sourdough pancakes a couple of times a week following this recipe, which calls for butter and eggs (I use pastured only for both). Several people on Instagram have asked me for a vegan sourdough pancake recipe and I’ve been working on that this week.
I experimented with many substitutions to my sourdough pancake recipe, beginning with:
- Olive oil and flax meal “egg” (flax meal and water that sits a bit and gels up)
- Coconut oil and flax meal “egg”
The olive oil tasted too strong so I switched to coconut oil but in both versions, the flax meal egg replacer resulted in fairly gummy pancakes.
So I wondered about simply omitting an egg replacer. The unfed sourdough starter, left over from feeding my sourdough starter, Eleanor, is quite sour and acidic. This acid reacts with the baking soda—which I add at the very end—to make the batter puff up and rise.
So I tried more iterations but without an egg replacer:
- Coconut oil and no other changes
- Coconut oil and extra flour
- Coconut oil and a bit of water
- Coconut oil and baking powder
When I made these without the egg replacer, the starter reacted with the baking soda as usual but the pancakes didn’t rise enough to prevent them from being gummy. They needed more volume.
So I added a bit of extra flour to one batch. That resulted in the worst batch—uncooked and pretty terrible (I still ate them…I’ve eaten so many pancakes this week…). Had I mixed flour into the starter and left it overnight to ferment, that would have turned out much better. But I want to be able to make these quickly, without having to wait for the batter to ferment. The whole point of breakfast for dinner is to eat it at dinnertime, not the next morning at breakfast time.
I was getting closer
Then I thought, okay, I’ll try almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds), hoping it would add some volume rather than the pastiness of unfermented flour. It worked! I tried the almond flour version with baking powder and without. I found it worked best without baking powder.
So I went through all of those iterations to discover that the following simple changes worked best to veganize the recipe:
- Use coconut oil for the fat (which I do sometimes anyway)
- Omit the egg and add some almond flour
I am obsessed with cast iron
I cook these pancakes (and anything I can) in well-seasoned cast-iron pans. When I’m finished, I wipe away any little bits of food. To remove larger bits of food, I’ll scrub the pan with a sponge and water. Pancakes never make much of a mess though. For more information on maintaining or reviving cast iron, go here. Whichever pan you use, add oil to it to prevent the pancakes from sticking.
Start with a sourdough starter
To make this and other sourdough recipes, such as sourdough bread, you’ll need an Eleanor of your own. She is a 100 percent hydration starter, meaning she contains equal parts flour and water by weight.
To feed your sourdough starter, you’ll take most of it out of the jar and add in fresh flour and water. The carbohydrates in the flour provide food for the hungry bacteria and yeast in the small amount of starter remaining in the jar. You can read more about starting and nurturing a sourdough starter here.
I like to have a jar (or two) of unfed starter on hand. Not only does the tangy flavor make amazing crackers, if anything happens to Eleanor—say, someone accidentally adds all of her to a recipe—I can feed the discard a few times and essentially clone her.
Vegan Sourdough Pancakes
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil plus more to oil the pan as necessary
- 1 cup unfed sourdough starter straight from the refrigerator
- 2 heaping tablespoons almond flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Melt coconut oil in a pan over medium heat and swirl around to coat. Remove pan from heat and allow oil to cool a bit while you move on to the next step.
- In a medium bowl (ideally with a spout) or measuring cup, stir the almond flour into the unfed sourdough starter.
- Pour the melted oil into the sourdough mixture, leaving the pan well-coated so your pancakes won’t stick to the surface. Mix ingredients well.
- Stir in the salt and baking soda. Allow the thick batter to sit for about 3 minutes to puff up. It will approximately double in size and become filled with air pockets.
- Over medium heat, gently pour a scant ½ cup of the batter into the pan for each pancake. Flip after bubbles have formed on the edges of the pancake. Remove from the pan once both sides are golden-brown.
- Melt more coconut oil in the pan and repeat with remaining batter.
- Top pancakes as desired.