“Pane” ( pah-nay) is a culinary term you may not be familiar with, but you will be familiar with the process of coating food with breadcrumbs before cooking. Encasing ingredients in a crispy fried or baked coating can take an already tasty dish to a whole new level. It can also be away to jazz up or re-invent leftovers, think arancini, rissoles or croquettes.
The plant-based pane process involves just three steps. First coat your food with a seasoned flour, next dip it in (usually) egg or dairy mix, finally coat it in crumbs. For a plant-based pane, I simply replace the egg mix with my one of my egg-free alternatives. While it might not be known as pane, many cultures use this method in traditional recipes. The three basic steps are always used, but there’s plenty of creative opportunities and variations to try in each of the steps. Think of it as a way to add another layer of flavour, not just texture to your dish.
Step 1: Dredge your ingredients in a coating of flour, this dries the surface, keeps in moisture and helps the egg(less) wash stick to the food.
A standard white flour can be replaced with cornflour, chickpea flour or a gluten free blend are all suitable for this first step. Simply season with a pinch of salt, alternatively add vegan stock powder or herbs and spices which will complement your finished dish.
Step 2: The floured food is in dipped in the egg(less) liquid, this is the binder for the crumb layer.
For your egg(less) wash there are a few options, seasoning and flavouring can be added to this layer also.
- Soy milk – add 1 Tbsp lemon or vinegar to 1 cup soy milk and set aside to thicken.
- Aquafaba – drain a can of chickpeas and use the aquafaba in place of egg.
- Chickpea Flour – mix equal parts of water and chickpea flour to make a batter.
Step 3: Now the food is coated with crumbs, they can be cooked immediately, refrigerated or frozen to cook later.
The crumb coat is often referred to as breading, either homemade breadcrumbs or more commonly store-bought these days. There a wide variety of textures and options – fine, coarse, panko or gluten-free. These can be seasoned, herbed, spiced, or add some plant-based parmesan for an extra umami. The crusty coating can also be made from ingredients like polenta, oats, quinoa, seeds or crushed cornflakes.