Pre-Lent Lent

09 February 2018

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THE whole point of Mardi Gras is, of course, to use up all the gras animal-derived food (meat, butter, eggs, and cheese) that has cheered us through winter before the Lenten fast begins. Just as Advent penitential gloom has slipped back a month into the lectionary’s November “Kingdom” season, however, with all its apocalyptic and Remembrancetide readings, I think that the secular world has also now declared Lent to begin officially on New Year’s Day.

I didn’t need to find out what or who was behind Veganuary to experience a sort of epiphanic revival about veganism (albeit a somewhat vegetarian modification of veganism) which, 30 years on, is certainly much easier to shop for.

But, then, how to mark the days of Collop Monday and Shrove Tuesday at the table?

I experimented with a couple of vegan recipes that were pronounced good. My own batter resisted forming ultra-thin crêpes. It was happier making fatter drop scones or American breakfast pancakes. No matter: Americans stack them up in greedy heaps with lots of filling between each layer.

What should go on top of a pancake remains the same, in my view. Nothing beats the classic syrup and lemon juice. I don’t often use refined sugar; so the syrup is either agave or organic maple.

Some people like to put fruit inside their pancakes as well as on top — a fritter, let’s say. Here is a Banana pancake recipe that also has blackberries inside. You could also use blueberries, or small cubes of a peeled, cored dessert apple, or thin slices of banana. I also like the flavour and nutritious value of oats, and used unsweetened almond milk. It makes an even stodgier batter, which takes a steady high heat and quite a long time to cook.

 

1 American cup (240ml/8 fl. oz) rolled oats, blended into flour
½ cup wholewheat flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 small, ripe bananas
415ml (14 fl. oz) vegan milk
½ cup blackberries
coconut oil for frying
Agave syrup and blackberries simmered gently for garnishing

 

Pulse the oats in a blender till powdered, and mix them with the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and cinnamon in a bowl. Mash the bananas with the milk. Stir the milk into a “well” in the flour mixture, and gently mix it all into a batter. Equally gently, heat together some blackberries (or other chopped fruit) with some agave syrup.

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and drop in spoonfuls of the batter. When the bubbles have formed and the pancakes are set, flip them over. Serve with the warm fruit syrup.

Blackberries are quite pippy enough, but with bananas or apples, some toasted flaked almonds sprinkled on top add an agreeable crisp texture and flavour.

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