My Nemesis, Masa Pancakes

Pancakes, in general, are my culinary nemesis.

I want justice for a voice that can’t be heard

VNV Nation’s “Nemesis” is a pretty vegan kind of song, since veganism entails being a voice for the voiceless, i.e., non-human animals.  If your definition of veganism is expansive and intersectional, a la third- and fourth-wave feminism, then the lyrics to “Nemesis” should resonate quite well.

All told, working with an older stand mixer, a gas burner which had a tendency to blow out, and a regular Teflon-lined pan (not a flat pancake pan), these turned out pretty well.  I look forward to making them again.  I bought a 2-lb bag of masa, and much like when I bought a 5-lb bag of sticky rice, now I have to use it.

Masa is made from corn that has been treated with lime and ground more finely than your average cornmeal.  It’s what’s in tamale filling (which is why I originally purchased it), besides proteins, cheese, or veggies. Masa makes OK cornbread in cast iron; I made masa cornbread twice, and it is definitely sweeter and cakier than regular cornbread.

While the recipe from which I modified these involved blueberries as add-ins, I don’t think these VGF ones would hold up with any chunks.  I recommend using finely ground flaxseed for maximum vegan “egg” (flaxseed slurry) distribution (put commercially ground flaxseed through the blender again to make it finer).  As I noted above, I found masa to be sweet on its own, so reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe would be A-OK.

Masa Pancakes

Modified from Magnolia Days

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup finely ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (and more for griddle)
  • 3/4 cup nondairy milk
  • 1 cup water
  1. In a small measuring cup, whisk water with flaxseed and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together masa, tapioca, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and sugar until uniformly combined.
  3. With the mixer running, mix in the melted oil and nondairy milk until a wet batter forms.  The more you mix, the more water you will have to add to get the batter to spread on the griddle (masa is super-absorbent).  Therefore…
  4. Start adding water a few tablespoons at a time, until batter has the consistency where it will spread of its own accord.
  5. Let batter rest while you preheat a nonstick griddle to medium-high heat.  Grease griddle with more coconut oil.
  6. When drops of water dance on the skillet, it’s ready.  Pour your pancakes 1/4 cup at a time.
  7. Cook until the edges are dryish, flip, and cook until browned.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  9. Let cooked pancakes cool on a wire rack before freezing, if you’re not eating them right away.
Peanut butter and maple syrup just sort of blend in.  Agave nectar would be most appropriate (and heart-racingly delicious) to accessorize these mild pancakes.
Why are pancakes my nemesis?  Because making vegan, gluten-free, and extreme high altitude (>8,000 feet above sea level) pancakes involves lots of “more water…just a little more water…and a tiny bit more water…”  Not a relaxing activity, especially when I’m hungry!

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