Freelance writer from the northeast coast of England with a fondness for vegan food and punk rock.
My oven gave up the ghost recently, and while I shopped around for a replacement I delved into the realm of stovetop breads as the basis for an article. I hauled out my trusty cast-iron griddle pan, and I set about cooking up an assortment of breads that require no baking.
Five Stovetop Vegan Breads
- Sweet potato roti
- Leavened flatbread
- Irish soda bread farls
- Singing hinnies
Recipe 1: Sweet Potato Roti
Since I came across this recipe a few years ago, it has become my go-to bread for curry dishes. Easy to prepare (it has only two ingredients), sweet potato rotis are soft and pliable, and just perfect for scooping up curry and rice. They are also sufficiently pliable to roll up.
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
- Peel and steam or boil the sweet potato until tender.
- Allow to cool slightly and mash the sweet potato in a bowl.
- Add the flour and mix the two ingredients together. (This may take a little while, and require some effort, but persist and it will all come together. If, however, you are starting to develop forearms like Popeye and the ingredients still haven't bound, add a splash of water).
- When the dough comes together, knead it on a floured surface for a minute or so, and set aside to rest.
- Divide the dough into equal-sized balls.
- Warm a dry pan over medium heat.
- On a floured surface, roll out each ball to make discs about ¼ inch thick.
- Place a disc into the pan and allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes (it might puff up).
- Flip the roti over and cook the other side for about 1 minute. It should have browned in a patchy mottled pattern.
- Stack the breads on a plate, covered with a clean towel to keep them soft and warm.
I’m fortunate in that I have a set of pans with lids that have rims that can be used as dough cutters. This is a good thing because I am the world’s worst pastry roller. I watch with envy as TV cooks effortlessly roll out near perfect discs (see video below), while my efforts stray a long way from the circular into all manner of curious shapes. In fact, I once considered donating a dried out chapati to a local school as a template pupils could draw around if they needed to make a map of Australia.
Recipe 2: Chapati
Check out this video for how to make delicious chapatis, and note the advanced rolling skills—rolling and rotating the chapati simultaneously.
Recipe 3: Leavened Flatbread
These are more puffed up than chapatis, and some way down the road towards naan, although the latter do list yoghurt in the ingredients. Fresh from the griddle, and slathered in vegan butter, these leavened flatbreads have been the star of the show for me on many occasions. On cooking, they will puff up like balloons, but they deflate when taken from the pan.
- 1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon warm water
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
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- Dry whisk the flour, yeast and salt to incorporate.
- Add the warm water and mix until a dough is formed.
- Knead and stretch the dough until it is smooth.
- Roll the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl.
- Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Knead the dough again for 30 seconds to expel large bubbles, and cut in half.
- Roll out each half into breads about ¼ inch thick.
- Set the breads aside on a sheet of parchment in a warm place to rise again for 10 minutes.
- Heat a dry cast-iron skillet (or similar) over medium-high heat.
- Place one of the breads in the pan and let it cook for 1 minute.
- Flip it over and do the other side for 1 minute more.
- Remove the bread, and spread or brush with vegan butter.
- Repeat with the second bread.
Recipe 4: Irish Soda Bread Farls
I'd never heard of farls before—in fact, I did a double-take when I first saw the word. Cutting the bread into quarters before cooking makes sense. I tried making a full circular loaf in the griddle pan and, after 20 minutes cooking, the inside was still doughy.
Making a vegan version of buttermilk is simpicity itself; just soya milk and lemon juice. It is important not to have the heat too high when making this bread, as the outside will start to char before the inside is cooked. I find having the dial a third of the way up works well.
- ½ cup soya milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 120 millilitres (½ cup) plain/all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pour the lemon juice into a jug and add the soya milk. Set aside.
- In a bowl, dry whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the soya buttermilk gradually, stirring until a dough is formed.
- Knead lightly and set aside.
- Place a dry skillet over medium heat.
- On a floured surface, press the dough into a circular disc about one inch thick.
- Quarter the dough, and carefully transfer each quarter to the pan.
- Cook for 2 minutes and then flip the breads.
- Cook for 2 minutes more.
- Using tongs, stand the breads on their edges to apply heat from different directions.
- Keep flipping and standing on edge for 10 minutes, watching for charring.
- When the breads are cooked, remove from the pan and allow them to cool slightly.
Recipe 5: Singing Hinnies
A hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey, as opposed to a mule, which comes from a male donkey and a female horse. Here in northeast England, however, hinny is widely used as a term of affection. So if you are ever visiting the area, don’t be offended if a shopkeeper says “There you are, hinny,” when handing you your change; they haven’t just likened you to a form of equine crossbreed, but rather they are being nice.
Singing hinnies are griddle-made fruit scones that go by different names in various parts of the country. The singing part of the name comes from the sound of the scones cooking in the heat of the griddle. These were a popular treat in my childhood, being inexpensive, and simple to make.
Traditional recipes use lard, but I had an aversion to that even when I ate meat, so it doesn't make the cut. The sweetness of these scones comes from the fruit; there is no sugar added to the pastry.
- 440 grams (2 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
- 50 grams (3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) vegan butter, chilled
- 50 grams (3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) solid coconut oil, chilled*
- 80 grams (½ cup) raisins
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 160 millilitres (2/3 cup) unsweetened plant milk (I use soya)
*If you don’t have coconut oil, doubling the vegan butter up to 100 grams will do the job.
- In a large bowl, dry whisk the flour, salt and baking powder to mix.
- Rub the butter and coconut oil into the flour until it is a uniform consistency (like wet sand is one common way to describe the texture).
- Stir in the raisins.
- Add the milk and mix until a loose dough forms.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and knead just enough to bring it together.
- Roll the dough into a slab ¾ inch thick.
- Place a griddle pan over medium heat.
- Cut out scones using a pastry cutter, and transfer to a griddle.
- Cook for 1 minute and then flip the scones.
- Continue to cook and flip for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm with vegan butter and jam.
Stovetop Bread Playlist
In 1979, The Boys recorded their third album in the village of Hell, in Norway. Complete with photos of the railway station and accompanying signage, the album named itself: To Hell With the Boys. Both of these tracks are from that album.