Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hot Cakes! (Gluten-Free)

We eat a lot around here. Which means I cook a lot.
It's a good thing I mostly enjoy cooking.

Lately, we've been reducing our use of wheat because one member of the family had to go on a gluten-free diet for health reasons.

At first the idea of gluten-free or wheat-free meals was daunting and depressing since we are all addicted to bread and pasta. I won't even go into the fact that I am a baker and have a bakery business that hinges on the use of lots of wheat flour. I've always loved pasta and about twelve meals a week included some variety of that food of the gods. Going to Italy a few years ago only inflamed the pasta passion even more. But my child needed to make the sacrifice and as her mother I certainly needed to make it as easy as possible. Which meant that the rest of the family wasn't going to chow on fettuccine while she ate white rice.

So I began researching gluten-free recipes and pastas. I have learned so much and I want to share some of what I have learned here.

Even if someone isn't wheat or gluten sensitive, or at least thinks they're not, it is a good idea for a person to add other grains to their diet if only to add variety and to give the body a break from digesting processed wheat. Americans eat a tremendous amount of processed wheat and it takes a toll. I firmly believe, from the experiences I have had, that many people have health issues that could be alleviated by giving their body a break from wheat.

I know I am sounding like a health-nut here, and well-- it's cuz I am one. All I can say is that I have a lot fewer aches and pains, especially in my joints, since backing off the wheat.

All that said, here's an easy recipe for gluten-free pancakes. They are so good, you wouldn't even know they have no wheat in them.

I have raised seven children on pancakes every Sunday morning. I have made pancakes every way they could possibly be made. I've made blueberry pancakes, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, whole wheat, cherry, apricot, plum, apple cinnamon, pear, banana walnut, applesauce, coconut, buckwheat, sourdough, rice flour, peach pancakes, lemon yogurt pancakes, plain yogurt pancakes, buttermilk, goat milk, oatmeal and wheat germ pancakes, pineapple get the idea. I can't even stand to eat plain ol' white flour pancakes because they are so lacking in flavor compared to what I can do with a pancake.

I grew up on old-fashioned, gold-rush style, Sourdough Pancakes. My dad had sourdough starter that was as old as the hills and he made a full pancake meal with eggs and sausage every Sunday after church. He was very enamored with his starter and even slept with it in his sleeping bag on camping trips to keep it warm for breakfast. I got some of the precious starter when I started my own kitchen and I continued the tradition by making sourdough pancakes for twenty years with that starter.

Then I killt it.

I'm ashamed.

I killed my decades old starter that my dad gave me. And my dad is gone too.

(I'll have a moment of silence here.....)

Sourdough pancakes are still my favorite.

But let me teach you how to make healthy, delicious pancakes!

This batch will make enough for a small crowd (about 20 four inch pancakes), so if you aren't feeding one, cut the recipe in half. I have trouble making food for less than six people.

Three eggs, warm from the nest.

Three cups of gluten-free flour
A word about flour-

There are many gluten-free alternatives. I have found that for flavor and texture it is best to use a combination of two or three flours in a recipe. My favorite flours to use are light rye, rice flour, milo (sorghum) flour and occasionally bean flour. Buckwheat flour is also gluten-free and I love it but my kids don't. It has a very distinctive flavor. The light rye flour is becoming my favorite. It does not have the rye flavor you think of with dark rye bread. Light rye flour is very mild and it makes great pancakes.

Update: My daughter, who is SO much smarter than me, reminded me that rye flour is a gluten flour. Upon reflection, I knew this at the beginning of our gluten-free journey and didn't use rye. Somehow my 40-something muddled brain blocked this information from me when I was writing this post. Probably because I like the flour and want it to be gluten free! So if you want to make a truly gluten-free product, use rice flour and don't listen to me.

Rice flour can have a grainy texture and bean flour can have a strong flavor also but if they are combined with other flours these characteristics are muted. Combining flours is a way to get the best qualities of each.

For this batch of pancakes I am using 1 1/2 cups of light rye flour and 1 cup of milo flour.

I am also adding 1/2 cup of starch. This is needed for texture in products that don't have gluten. Here I am using tapioca starch (flour) but potato starch would also work.

The combination of 1 1/2 cups light rye flour
1 cup of milo flour and
1/2 cup of tapioca starch
makes the 3 cups of flour necessary for this recipe.

Any other combination of the flours I mentioned above would work while using 1 part starch to 5 parts flour. What I use can be determined by how efficient I was this week in keeping the pantry stocked.

The rest of the recipe is like a standard buttermilk pancake recipe.

1 Tablespoon baking powder (gluten-free)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons brown sugar (or honey, or other sweetener)

3 cups of buttermilk

and 1/4 cup of oil

(I use coconut oil for the healthy fats and essential fatty acids.)

Stir it up until dry parts are moistened but do not overbeat.

Sizzle on a griddle!


Healthy pancakes like these deserve only real butter and real maple syrup.
Please, no fake fats or high fructose corn syrup.

Yes. I admit it fully.
I am a food snob.
And proud of it.

Now stuff the pancakes in your gob hole before your brother gets 'em!

Gluten-Free Pancakes

3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups of gluten-free flours
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 cups buttermilk
1/4 oil


  1. Mmmmm.... yummy! Now I need to make some pancakes!

    Rye is a gluten grain, you know...

  2. Obviously, a different "authority" should be writing this blog.



  4. Hi, if it's no trouble would you mind posting your pineapple orange cake recipe? I would really like to try it.

  5. Have you tried coconut flour?


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