It took me a lot of tinkering to achieve our family’s favorite vegan waffle recipe. Now that I have, we eat these ALL the time—for brunch, breakfast, and often dinner. (See Monday night’s last-minute dinner above, complete with a lazy side of frozen veggies sauteed in broth with onions, then topped with pickled red onions and drizzled with leftover pickle brine.)
The sourdough reacts with the baking soda to create fluffy leavening and airiness without eggs or egg replacer powder (kinda like buttermilk) and adds a little tang; the applesauce and banana bring sweetness and moistness; the sunflower seed butter (or nutlike butter of your choice) adds a little gooey rich awesomeness.
Do note that these waffles depend on you having a sourdough starter (aka wild yeast starter aka natural starter) living in your fridge. I got mine from a friend, then learned how to feed and use it with a little help from King Arthur, Breadtopia and Chocolate and Zucchini.
I’m not one to throw away my hard-won allergen-safe flour, so I pour any “discard” starter into a glass bowl after each feeding and save it in the fridge to make waffles, pancakes, pretzels and more. (If you don’t have any starter, I also really love this vegan waffle recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch—just swap in your preferred nutlike butter for the peanut butter).
The allergy challenge: Whole-wheat dairy-free and egg-free waffles and pancakes can be bland, dense, dry and not-so-fluffy.
The allergy-free hypothesis: Sourdough, applesauce and bananas to the rescue!
The verdict: My three-year-old ate FOUR of these. That is a record for her.
Recipe inspiration: I started by tinkering with this basic (but not at all egg-free) sourdough starter pancakes recipe. It was a little oily and sour for my taste the first few times I made it, so I took out the eggs and oil, added some faux milk, extra flour, applesauce, bananas and sunflower seed butter (chocolate chips don’t hurt, either!)
- 2 cups sourdough starter, all-purpose or whole wheat (unfed is fine)
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or any whole wheat flour)
- ½ cup non-dairy milk of your choice (I like oat milk, which is naturally sweet)
- 2 tablespoons sugar or natural sweetener (helps offset the sourdoughness)
- 1 banana (the riper the better)
- ⅓ cup applesauce
- ½ cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (optional)
- ⅓ cup Sunbutter or other nutlike butter safe for your allergen set
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ tablespoons warm water
- Preheat waffle iron according to directions & grease as desired with pan spray or light coating of oil.
- In a large bowl, beat your nutlike butter and faux milk together until well combined. Mash in the banana (a potato masher or fork works well here).
- Add all other ingredients EXCEPT baking soda and warm water.
- Batter should now be thick, yet runny enough to ladle into a waffle iron or skillet. Add additional non-dairy milk if needed to achieve this consistency (especially if you have a dry sourdough starter).
- In a small bowl, mix baking soda and warm water, stir well. Do not add to batter until just ready to cook.
- When waffle iron is ready, gently add baking soda mixture to waffle batter and stir until combined. Mixture will foam and fizz—give it a minute.
- Ladle into hot waffle iron, being careful not to overfill (these waffles really puff up) and cook to desired crispness.
- Serve topped with sliced bananas, a drizzle of maple syrup and allergen-friendly sunflower seeds.
Safer sourcing ideas:
DISCLAIMER: Please proceed with caution, check with companies yourself and use these allergy-friendly sourcing ideas as a starting place only. These are the options that work for our particular family and our daughter’s allergies and sensitivities as of the time of this writing. Ingredients and labels and cleaning practices can change at any time without warning.
- Wheat Flour:
My main bread flours are King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour and King Arthur Bread Flour. As of an email exchange in February 2014, their main flours in the 5-lb. bags (all-purpose, whole wheat, bread and white whole wheat) were safer for our allergens. For softer, less rustic, breads like the Vietnamese baguettes, I used Gold Medal (General Mills labels for our allergen set).We use Gold Medal and Hodgson Mill wheat flours (including Hodgson Mill’s organic whole wheat pastry flour), as they are nut-free and sesame-free as of recent emails.
- Wheat Flour:
- Sunflower seeds: We buy top-8+-free sunflower seeds as part of a regular order every few months of seeds and dried fruit from Gerbs Allergen Friendly Snacks. (Sign up for their mailing list to get free shipping coupons).
- Chocolate chips: Enjoy Life chocolate chips are Top 8+ free, and our most trusted safer option — I often get them as part of a bulk order from Vitacost.
- Sweetener: If you want to go for a more natural or fair-trade sweetener, Wholesome Sweeteners sells organic and fair-trade raw and less-processed sweeteners that were free of contamination from dairy, nuts, sesame, eggs and more as of February 2014 (this does NOT include their Stevia product).
- Pan spray: Our current favorite safer oil spray is PAM Organic Canola spray — I’m told it’s free of our allergens as of this writing and not made from GMO canola.
- SunButter. I buy 6-packs of SunButter via a recurring Amazon Subscribe & Save subscription every few months.
- Milk substitute: Use your favorite faux milk, though my daughter and I love unsweetened organic oat milk. It’s easy to make, or you can be lazy like us and buy 12-packs of Pacific Organic Oat Milk by Amazon subscription for slightly over $2/quart (compared to an average $4 in many local Brooklyn stores). Do note that Pacific runs some products containing cashews and dairy on the same line, but told me they take their cleaning practices very seriously—your comfort zone may vary here.
Allergen-friendliness: This recipe can be made free of dairy, egg, nuts, peanuts, fish/shellfish, soy, sesame and mustard. It’s also vegan. (For an oil-free version, just remove the Sunbutter.)
Go ahead. Eat waffles for dinner.
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