Tea and bikkies

I had two cooking firsts this week. Like lockdown 1, when I learnt to make sourdough bread, there’s going to be a lot of cooking this time.

On Shrove Tuesday in February, I tried to make vegan pancakes for the first time and found a recipe on the internet. I mixed the batter and put it in the pan before it tore. One after another, the “pancakes” were a disaster. Something resembling putty emerged and the taste wasn’t much better. Even looking on the bright side, I couldn’t find a single redeeming thing to say about them.

Earlier this week, when I told Helene that I was going to try to make vegan pancakes again, she went silent. I could see she was thinking of the previous attempt. This time, I said, it would be different.

My reason for trying again was related to the sourdough bread I make. When you make sourdough bread, you must regularly feed the sourdough starter. To do this, you remove some of the old starter before feeding the rest with fresh flour and water. Some people throw away the removed starter. However, I’d seen that you could make pancakes instead of wasting it.

A website, appropriately called zero-waste chef, had a vegan sourdough pancakes recipe, which looked promising. I had all the ingredients except for almond flour. In the comments on the page, someone suggested using chickpea flour and soya milk/water, which I had.

I mixed all the ingredients together. I showed Helene the batter and she said it looked a bit thick. So I added more soya milk and water. The batter went into the hot frying pan (coated with coconut oil) and very soon bubbles started forming on the edges as the recipe indicated. This was going to plan!

Not knowing how to dress pancakes, I asked Helene what she put on them. She said lemon and sugar. She tasted it and was pleasantly surprised — probably because her expectations were very low after the previous attempt. She liked them so much she had a second. They were quite thick and we were both full at the end. We had to postpone dinner by a couple of hours to get our appetites back.

Yesterday, I read something that mentioned shortbread biscuits. I used to love them when I was young. I had never made biscuits and wondered if you could make a vegan version. Helene was sceptical. I eventually found a simple recipe on the BBC Good Food website, which has been a treasure trove for me.

Luckily, again, I had all the ingredients. You just chuck everything into a food processor, give it a whizz, gradually adding oil until the dough is the right consistency. (I added 125 ml of olive oil not the suggested 160 ml after a comment from someone.)

The dough looked good. I put it in the fridge to chill. After using my fluted cutter and sprinkling with sugar, the dough went into the oven.

They came out of the oven looking good! After leaving them to cool, I gave one biscuit to Helene. She was impressed. The vanilla was a good touch. We had some again today and she said she could happily eat these all the time instead of the buttery version. She’s half French and likes her cheese and butter, so this was a big thumbs up.

Today, at 4pm, I had them again: tea and biscuits or, as we used to say growing up, tea and bikkies. Yummy!

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