Bread at Daybreak

Breakfast breads—pancakes, waffles, pain perdu, French toast, muffins, etc.—win the morning popularity award.

Vegetarians who consume milk, eggs and sugar can enjoy traditional breakfast breads. Vegans, and omnivores who would rather skip the dairy and refined sugar, should get an equal chance to enjoy breakfast breads.

Vegetarian and vegan breakfast breads may use sourdough starters and yeast as leaveners. Batters made with these will actually improve after standing. So plan to prepare the batters and refrigerate overnight before cooking. Batters made with baking powder and baking soda may lose a bit of their “lift” overnight. You may want to combine all the other ingredients and leave the baking powder or soda out until just ready to use.

If you have leftover pancake and waffle batter, cook it up and freeze the finished product for future use. A heat-up on the grill will bring them back to life. You can microwave frozen pancakes and toast frozen waffles; in both cases, be careful not to overdo it.

Making modifications: If you have a favorite non-veggie pancake or waffle batter recipe, you can modify the egg and milk components until you’ve created an acceptable product. Depending on the desired end result, eggs can be replaced with silken tofu, cornstarch slurries, pureed fruit (such as peaches or applesauce), egg substitute or a combination of vegetable oil and cornstarch. Veggie milk, such as soy, rice or almond milk, depending on the desired flavor, can usually replace dairy milk.

Traditional breakfast bread combos, such as “pigs in a blanket” or pancake sandwiches, can go veggie, using veggie breakfast links or strips, veggie sausage or smoked tofu, cut into strips to replace traditional meat products.

Here are some international ideas for vegetarian and vegan breakfast breads:

  • Pikelets: Found in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, pikelets are a yeast-raised pancake, sort of a cross between an English muffin and a pancake, served with fruit preserves, whipped margarine or butter. Pikelets are a yeast product, so they need time to proof. Pikelet batter can be made the night before and allowed to cold-proof in the walk-in. A two-ounce pikelet would take about two to three minutes to cook on a hot griddle. Alternately, pikelets can be cooked off the day before and briefly reheated on a hot griddle as needed. Pikelet ingredients are simple: all-purpose flour, yeast, water and a small amount of sugar and salt. You can play around with the flour, using whole-wheat, rye or unbleached flours. If white sugar is an issue, vegan sugars or date or palm sugar may be used.
  • Injera: An Ethiopian, moist, pancake-like bread, injera is made from millet flour that is allow to “ferment” for natural leavening. Injera is a savory hot bread that can be used as a utensil. Small pieces of injera are torn off and used to scoop up other menu items. Injera batter can be made the night before, stored overnight (to “ferment”) in the walk-in and cooked to order. Serve with a vegetarian breakfast chili or spicy grilled vegetables.
  • Crepe: Originally French, now international, crepes should be made as thin as possible; fill with sweet or savory ingredients. Crepes can be made from scratch and cooked to order; cooked ahead of time, frozen and quickly reheated on a hot grill as needed; or purchased ready-to-use (frozen or refrigerated) and heated. You can prepare a vegan version of crepes using highly whipped silken tofu (give it a whirl in the blender until it is aerated and light in texture) to replace eggs.
  • Blini: Blini must be made with buckwheat flour to be authentic. Blinis are small in diameter, about two to three inches, and served hot. Blini are traditionally served with caviar and sour cream.  To offer your vegan customers an elegant breakfast or brunch item, serve buckwheat blini with soy sour cream and vegan caviar. There are many recipes for “caviar” using roasted eggplant, black olives and even black-eyed peas to replace the seafood product. There are also several very acceptable ready-to-use refrigerated vegan caviars on the market.
  • Flensje: Also called a “Dutch pancake,” this baked pancake (the anti-crepe) is a meal in itself, and, if made authentically, should cover an entire dinner plate. Bake this thick and serve with marmalade, stewed fruit, flavored whipped cream or soft-serve yogurt. Flensje is a baking powder, flour, milk and egg creation; it would be difficult to achieve a vegan version.
  • Binya Tuk: Made from soaked and ground mung beans, this Korean pancake is cooked with green onions and kimchi inside; obtain the traditional effect by cooking on one side, sprinkling onions and kimchi, flipping and cooking in the ingredients.
  • Sope: This super-long pancake from the French countryside takes some talent, a long grill and whole-wheat flour to prepare. A good sope should be at least 14-16 inches in diameter, almost paper thin and chewy in texture.
  • Dosa: The South Indian cousin of the sope, the dosa is cooked as wide, about 14-16 inches, and as thin as possible. Dosa can be stuffed with savory fillings, such as the traditional spiced potatoes, rolled and served. You may need an expedition to your favorite South Indian restaurant for tutoring!