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I am looking for a way to make pancakes/crepes (the very thin ones), with the following limitations:

  • no eggs
  • no liquid ingredients besides water
  • cheap ingredients only

I've been trying something like:

  • 360 g wheat flour
  • 40 g corn flour
  • 850 g water

But the problem is that they turn out non-baked inside and too crispy on the outside, besides being too thick. I've been trying on lower heat, but then it takes like over 5 minutes for each pancake, and the inside is still not baked. I read that it should take 1 minute to bake 1 pancake.

Any changes to the ingredient list, or tips for baking procedure? What might be the problem that it takes so long, and the inside gets not-baked? I try to pour the batter on the pan as thin as I can, swiping the pan with a sponge made of toilet paper dipped in rapeseed oil before each pancakes, and its a thin-edge pancake Teflon-coated pan.


OK, maybe some clarifications: I am not vegan and have no allergies. The motivation is completely different: life on the road and for extended periods away from any sources of anything other then tap water.

The motivation is decreasing the weight and volume of stuff I need to take with me. Liquids are not good because they are heavy. Unless I need really little of them. But even then once I open the carton I probably need to use it up quick, because no fridge available.

So I am looking for ways of making pancakes out of ingredients which take up little volume and weight, and added to water can improve my pancakes. Powders are good, provided I have to add little of them. Also it has to be as low-budget as possible. Corn flour is cheap, baking powder is cheap, things like soy milk are not cheap.

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I get the "cheap" and "vegan" limitations. Why the water-only? I google-find lots of vegan crepe, though they seem to all use soy-milk. –  sdg Oct 25 '10 at 15:28
    
@sdg - I could see a casein allergy combined with a soy allergy here. –  justkt Oct 25 '10 at 15:37
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@justkt Coconut milk and rice milk would be alternatives there. –  ceejayoz Oct 25 '10 at 15:47
    
@ceejayoz - yeah, beyond not wanting milk, nuts, or soy I'm not sure. –  justkt Oct 25 '10 at 15:48
    
You might wanna try this simple crepe recipe I have here miernik. It's simple and easy to cook! :) –  Melanie Palmero Aug 1 '11 at 7:04
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9 Answers

Given your updated criteria, what about using powdered milk for crepes and pancakes? Powdered milk tends to be very inexpensive. You can usually find in in the baking aisle at groceries in the U. S. The powdered milk will last you for a long time.

You can also get powdered eggs. Just google for them.

As Martha astutely commented below, look for recipes for pancake mixes that require adding only water and pack those.

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See if you can find a recipe for making your own "complete - just add water" pancake mix. You could also just buy a complete mix, although it would probably be less cost-effective. –  Marti Oct 25 '10 at 19:31
    
Given the revised/expanded question, upvoting this answer. –  sdg Oct 26 '10 at 0:30
    
The powdered milk was not easy to find and not cheap - the only thing which look like powdered milk did cost 2 EUR for a 250 gram bag, that is like 5 USD/lb, and that was in a huge, cheap supermarket, and other supermarket chains didn't have it at all. I tried: 350 grams wheat flour, 50 grams powdered milk and 1 liter water. And the result was not good at all - too crispy, difficult to roll, and took 6 minutes per pancake to make it feel not raw. Was that too little powdered milk? –  miernik Nov 2 '10 at 19:38
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@miernik - also, while $5/lb is a bit more than I see for powdered milk, you have to realize that you get a lot more use per gram out of powdered milk than out of milk itself. It goes quite far, making it relatively inexpensive per gram/oz. –  justkt Nov 2 '10 at 20:02
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@miernik : try asking for a product called Nido. It's made by Nestlé, and I believe it's available in Europe. It's not the same 'powdered milk' that we get in the US, as it's made from whole milk, not skim. –  Joe Nov 3 '10 at 0:01
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Since you're actually trying to find a lightweight, long shelf-life alternative to eggs and milk, powdered milk and powdered eggs are probably your best alternatives.

If you want to have a mix-and-go arrangement, you're going to need dough conditioners and fillers that help prevent gluten from forming when you mix with liquid. Those would include ascorbic acid, alternative flours like malted barley or tapioca starch mixed with your wheat flour, and so on. Some will have other impacts on flavor and texture; buckwheat will add a nutty flavor and a crispier texture.

However, if you are more flexible, I would recommend rehydrating the milk and eggs before mixing in flour, to minimize the formation of gluten. You have the same need when making pancakes with the normal ingredients, so it won't be any different here. You need to gently mix in the flour and other dry ingredients as the last step, and let the batter stay somewhat lumpy, or, for crepes, let the batter rest for a good 30 minutes to allow the strands of gluten to relax again.

You seem to be concerned about cost. Powdered whole eggs are about $12-14/lb here, but this corresponds to roughly 48 eggs, which means you're paying roughly what you'd pay for higher quality eggs in the US (.25-30 cents each). Powdered milk, preferably spray-dried, is used at roughly 25 grams per 250 ml of "milk", so about .20 Euro per 250ml, which is cheaper than fresh milk where I live (though I don't buy the cheapest ones).

Additionally, you will need some form of fat, if not for flavor, for the purpose of preventing sticking to the pan, even with nonstick cookware. Also, it helps to have some in your batter because it helps reduce gluten formation. If you can't carry butter because of its shelf life, at least carry some vegetable oil.

I've seen water+flour+fat-only pancakes of the thickness of crepes in Chinese cooking, but these are not browned, so you won't get the same thing you're expecting if you're trying to make crepes.

If you don't mind crossing cultural boundaries, ground, soaked mung beans and ground rice are used in bindaeddeok, Korean style pancakes that are thicker than crepes but generally thinner than American pancakes. They can contain other ingredients in the batter, and are served with a dipping sauce made with soy sauce and vinegar, along with a few other flavorful ingredients (scallions, sesame, chili, perhaps). A similar concept exists in Southern India: Dosas, which are often made from ground urad dal, a kind of lentil, and ground rice, fermented at a warm temperature at least overnight, and often served with onions and chilies, in one of the simpler forms. Neither one of these resemble crepes in texture, however. In Vietnam, turmeric, flour and coconut milk are used in a stuffed pancake as well.

For pancakes, you will need baking powder, or, if you're using buttermilk powder instead, at least baking soda. For crepes this isn't necessary.

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If your only concern is allergies to milk and/or soy, have you considered using coconut milk? It behaves much like cream in the 'close enough for jazz' sense, and can be thinned out as needed.

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Rice milk is another good alternative. Cheapish, too. –  ceejayoz Oct 25 '10 at 16:22
    
Will rice flour, or maybe oat flower work as well? I'd prefer to avoid liquids, and I think a powder will be less heavy for the same amount of protein. If so, what amount of it do you propose for 360 grams of wheat flower? –  miernik Oct 25 '10 at 19:25
    
oh wait, didn't realise you'd updated the question. as said above, just google a 'make your own pancake mix' recipe. –  daniel Oct 25 '10 at 21:31
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This is a job for dry masa flour. Having tried water-only pancake mix, a warm tortilla is infinitely more satisfying.

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Is "masa flour" the same thing as "corn flour"? –  miernik Nov 2 '10 at 4:19
    
@miernik - masa is different than corn flour. See here: recipes.howstuffworks.com/what-is-masa-harina.htm –  justkt Nov 2 '10 at 19:51
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The masa suggestion is right on the spot. You just need to add water, not even salt, and you can make excellent tortillas anywhere - but they will not be crepes, definitely: different flavor. If you want to stick with flour and corn meal, I suggest you take with you a small bottle of olive oil. Stable at room temperature, a little goes a long way and even imparts some flavor.

As it has already been remarked, masa is not corn flour but the result of a much more complex process that makes the corn proteins more available (this should be useful to you).

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Preparing a thin batter without something that will congeal as it cooks (protein...egg) is going to be difficult.

Looking at your ingredients (but not the quantities) I'd think you were making tortillas. If you want to stick with the unleavened route, I'd try a dough that you can roll out thinly (or press with a tortilla press)

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The thing is, that I had the 90% wheat + 10% corn flour mix to work for me some months before, and now it doesn't any more. I start to wonder maybe its because the flour absorbed water, because I store it in a room with 95% humidity and I am using flour which I bought about a year ago, maybe if I try with new, dry flour it will work again? –  miernik Nov 4 '10 at 9:28
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The product sold as BisQuick http://www.bettycrocker.com/Products/Bisquick/Default and more generally as "biscuit mix" in North America works great, when camping, for both pancakes and dumplings - add more water for pancakes, less for dumplings. It has baking powder in it. Usually we have powdered milk with us when camping, and we mix up a little to make the batter with, but there's no particular chemical reason to do this, it's just a way to get some milk into people over the course of a trip. BTW, dumplings in a spicy stew or chili are a great alternative to serving them with bread, in circumstances where carrying bread is difficult.

If cost or availability are an issue for you, here are some sites that tell you how to make your own. I haven't tested these. http://factoidz.com/biscuit-mix-making-and-using-biscuit-mix-for-quick-meals/ or http://baking.about.com/od/pancakes/r/biscuitmix.htm or http://www.gardenguides.com/140102-quick-biscuit-mix-recipe.html

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I would add some baking powder, and if you want it fluffy you can use sparkling water - the bubbles help it rise a little.

Both of these are cheap ingredients.

But I wonder - what is your motivation?

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He tagged it vegan, possibly that. –  Nick T Oct 25 '10 at 15:21
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OK, there have been some misunderstanding here... The vegan tag is just there as this is probably useful to vegan people. My motivation is completely different - I live on the road, like to live in remote places where I can't have access to buying anything, so I only want to use ingredients which don't take up a lot of space and can be stored a long time without a fridge. Sparkling water is not an option - it needs to be bought in a shop and takes up a lot of space and weight. Normal water can be accessed anywhere. I have no allergies. –  miernik Oct 25 '10 at 18:23
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I make both vegan pancakes and crepes using:

-water -vegetable oil -white flour -baking powder -Sometimes I add flax seed

and I blend it before cooking them. The difference for the pancake and the crepe is how much I spread out the batter.

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If you are going to post a recipe like this, it generally helps to add the amount of each ingredient. –  Jay Mar 16 '13 at 4:32
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