Way back in 1992, I published my first recipe for Vegan French Toast in Solace Kitchenzine, an old-fashioned cut & paste, photocopied vegan mini-cookbook fanzine I made as a teenager. I wrote short essays on environmental and social issues, did the artwork, and interviewed bands in the hardcore / punk music scene, mostly in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area, but also from as far away as Boston, California, and Washington D.C. I was an avid pen pal, loved doing mail order in the U.S. and internationally, and took every opportunity to go on road trips with friends to other cities or states to watch bands play, meet new friends, and “distribute” my ‘zine.
It was a really magical time of my youth. In many ways the blog and cookbook project, now almost twenty years later, recall the excitement and interaction of those days. Back then I used to get letters in the mail (you know, the kind with stamps) almost every day. Now, I get enthusiastic emails and Facebook messages from friends and fans. Even years after Solace came out, I’d run into people that told me they knew my ‘zine. It was pretty cool. Though I’ve never been the preachy, dogmatic type, I was always proud when someone told me I helped or encouraged them on the path towards veganism / vegetarianism and daring to eat differently than the mainstream. Nowadays, vegan is a household word. Most restaurants – and relatives! – are way cooler about veggie eating habits. Sure, it still varies from country to country, county to county, and town to town…
Whether you’re living in a modern vegan diner metropolis or not, this breakfast classic is easy to prepare at home with easy to find ingredients. Don’t forget the decadent toppings like maple syrup or agave syrup and fresh fruit. I love berries, but tropic fruit like bananas, mango, and pineapple are also winners.
French Toast is actually an even easier breakfast recipe than Vegan Pancakes. It’s harder to get the batter wrong or make other pancake novice mistakes. Even the best brunch cooks burns a slice of French Toast or the odd Pancake here and there. So what! It’s all part of the process. You can make extra batter or have 2 extra pieces of bread on standby in case you run into trouble.
I admit: My recipe has evolved and been tweaked since way back when. My time in India taught me the chickpea flour trick. (Another Indian tip: Add a pinch of black salt – kala namak – if you miss the eggy flavor of the original. Both ingredients you can get at most Asian / Indian grocery stores.) Corn starch or soy flour helps keep the batter together. If your kitchen is understocked, go with straight-up flour like I did in the old days.
p.s. If you’re reading this and you’ve still got a copy of Solace Fanzine you want to scan in… I’ll send you the eBook version of The Lotus and the Artichoke… for free! x Justin Solace x
Vegan French Toast – American breakfast classic
serves 2 to 3 / time 30 min
- 6-8 slices of bread (slightly stale is best)
- 1 cup / 240 ml soy milk or rice milk
- 2 Tbs chickpea flour (or flour)
- 2 Tbs corn starch or soy flour
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbs oil + oil for pan
- Combine chickpea flour, corn starch, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt in large bowl.
- Add soy milk and 1 Tbs oil while stirring with whisk. Mix until mostly smooth. Some lumps are okay.
- Heat frying pan, preferably well-seasoned cast iron pan on medium to medium high heat.
- Put a few drops of oil on pan and rub it around with a paper towel. Cooking spray can also be used. Do this before each slice. When a drop of water sizzles and dances on the surface, the pan is ready.
- Dip slice of bread in batter on both sides and let it soak 20-30 sec before transferring to hot pan. Fry each side 3-4 minutes until golden brown, turning carefully with spatula. Put in warm oven or another pan with cover to keep warm. Repeat with all slices.
- Top with margarine, fresh fruit, and powdered sugar. Serve with syrup and/or jam.
Orange: Add 2 tsp orange zest to batter. Vanilla: Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to batter, or use vanilla soy or rice milk. Flours: Use oat, spelt, or whole wheat flour in place of chickpea flour. 1 Tbs ground flax seeds can be substituted for corn starch or soy flour. Chocolate: Use chocolate soy milk or add 1 Tbs cocoa to batter.