I’m always inspired to make a bit of effort for breakfast on the weekend. When there’s no rush to leave the house, and therefore no need to eat early (my stomach is never ready for food first thing in the morning). Pancakes are often my go to choice. The very familiar routine of whipping up the pancake batter, always the thick, American style pancakes for me, and the heating of the pan to a point where it is almost smoking. My favourite part? Cooking the first side and watching the bubbles on the raw side form, waiting for them to be just right before flipping the pancakes over. I am transfixed by the process. These chestnut pancakes with spicy vegan bacon add something a little special to the routine.
Chestnut puree can be bought in larger supermarkets and is mixed in with the pancake batter, then perfectly paired with cinnamon and mixed spice. The spices in the vegan bacon are warming but not hot. They are sweetened with a dash of maple syrup, giving your tongue a pleasant tingle with each bite. This is savoury and sweet combined. Soft and crunchy juxtaposed, yet harmonious.
I’ve used yeast in these pancakes to help give them an extra rise and to produce a lighter, fluffier finished result. With the yeast, it’s important the let the batter rest for an hour to allow it to work. The heat of the pan is just as important. Too hot and they will burn quickly, not hot enough and the magic will not happen. I tend to have a low oven running as I’m cooking them so that I can keep batches warm while others are on the go. It’s also ideal to keep it running while you are cooking the bacon, which I tend to do once all the pancakes are finished.
Chestnut Pancakes with Spicy Vegan Bacon
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour resting time. Cooking time: 8-10 minutes per batch.
For the Pancakes:
250g/9 oz plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground mixed spice
3 heaped tbsp unrefined caster sugar
450ml/1 pint vegan milk
1 pack (200g/7 oz) chestnut puree
1 tsp active yeast
2 tbsp vegetable oil per batch for cooking
Maple syrup for pouring
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For the Vegan Bacon:
A little oil for cooking
8-12 rashers vegan bacon
1 tsp smoked BBQ seasoning
A pinch cayenne pepper
3 tbsp maple syrup
A dash of soy sauce
First make the pancake batter by putting the flour, baking powder, salt, spices and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Now pour in the vegan milk, a little at a time and whisking as you go to remove any lumps. Once you have a smooth batter, add the chestnut puree and yeast and whisk again to thoroughly combine.
Leave to rest at room temperature for an hour to get the yeast working.
Once the hour has passed, heat a large frying pan until it is quite hot, then add the first 2 tbsp of oil. Allow another 30 seconds or so for the oil to heat up and then spoon 2-3 spoonfulls of batter for each pancake. I’m able to get 3 in the pan at a time but that will obviously depend on your pan. Cook on a medium heat for about 4 minutes, until a good number of bubbles form on the raw side of the pancake, then gently flip them over using a spatula. Cook for another 4 minutes on the other side. Once they are cooked and nicely browned, put the pancakes on a baking tray and transfer to a low oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.
Once you’ve used up the pancake batter you can cook the vegan bacon. Keep the pan hot and add a little oil. Place the bacon rashers in the pan (in batches if you need to), then sprinkle on half the BBQ seasoning and the cayenne pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes and then turn them over and sprinkle the rest of the seasoning on. Remember to divide the seasoning between the batches if you’re cooking that way. Once the bacon has had a couple more minutes, turn them over again and add the maple syrup and soy sauce. Cook the bacon for just a couple more minutes, turning them over half-way through, then serve immediately with the pancakes. Pour over a generous helping of maple syrup and enjoy.