Gluten-free *and* delicious pancakes

GF pancakes

GF pancakesFinally, after years of cooking gluten-free, I can use the words gluten-free and good tasting in the same sentence. These pancakes are one of my favorite gluten-free breakfast options. I even think they are better than any pancakes made with regular flour. They’re much lighter and healthier than traditional pancakes.

Although there are many packaged mixes in the market to make gluten-free pancakes, but none compare to this mix I make from scratch using a recipe from the original gluten-free gourmet, Bette Hagman. I make up a big batch ahead of time and all that is needed when ready to cook are eggs and liquid. The recipe uses a four-flour blend (garbanzo/fava bean flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and cornstarch) combined with either milk powder or almond meal, shortening, and a few other ingredients. Trader Joe’s almond meal works well in this recipe, but Bob’s Red Mill almond flour does not. I think the latter was too “wet” and the pancakes don’t cook all the way through. Best to stick with Trader Joe’s or another dry nut meal. I sometimes add a teaspoon or two of flax seed meal to the batch for a healthy option. With a little butter and maple syrup, these are a weekend favorite. For variation, add blueberries or bananas, and during the winter holidays, replace the liquid with low fat eggnog.

This recipe is easy to adapt for dairy free diets. These pancakes keep well in the freezer, too..

When I don’t feel like making up my own batches of pancake mix, I have a few prepared mixes I like to keep in the pantry:

Kinnikinnik Pancake & Waffle Mix (contains soy)
Sylvan Border Farm Pancake & Waffle Mix (vegan)
Pamela’s Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix
Bisquick Gluten-Free

Mixes that did not pass the taste test:

Trader Joe’s GF Pancake Mix*** (inedible)
Arrowhead Mills GF Pancake Mix (cannot believe they call this food)

My philosophy is that gluten-free food has to taste good. Some gluten-free manufacturers forget this very important criteria. Slapping “gluten-free” on a package is not enough of a reason to charge two or three times what a product is worth either, so I don’t buy products that I think are unethically priced.

***Even though the TJ’s GF pancake mix is not very good, TJ’s ready-made pancakes in the frozen section are excellent.

Brown rice flour compared

This past weekend, I noticed my all-purpose gluten-free flour blend was almost all used up, so I started to mix another 6-cup batch. Then I realized that I was nearly out of my superfine brown rice flour, so I made up for it with my run of the mill brown rice flour. Having both of these flours on my counter gave me the idea to compare the two flours side by side to see how different they are from each other.

Superfine brown rice flour is the flour recommended by many gluten-free cooks for baked goods. Cybele Pascal (2009) calls it the “Cadillac, or cashmere, of brown rice flours and is worth its weight in gold.” This claim is true, and as seen in the image, there is a noticeable difference between the superfine on the left and the medium grind brown rice flour on the right. The flours are from Authentic Foods and Bob’s Red Mill, respectively. Bette Hagman doesn’t specifically call for superfine flour in her flour blends and recipes, but she says in one her cookbooks that her recipes are based on the fine grind. Most of the recipes that call for rice flour will work with almost any rice flour. Depending on the recipe, the grittyness will be more noticeable with the medium grind flours. Making shortbread, which is dependent on its smooth buttery texture, is a disaster with the ordinary flour.

Cookbooks referred to in this post:

Hagman, B. (2002). The gluten-free gourmet makes dessert. Henry Holt and Company, New York. ISBN-13: 9780805068061.

Pascal, C. (2009). The allergen-free baker’s handbook. Celestial Arts, Berkeley, California. ISBN-13: 9781587613487.

Flour sources:

Authentic Foods http://authenticfoods.com/

Bob’s Red Mill http://www.bobsredmill.com/

Ener-G Foods http://www.ener-g.com/

Garbanzo Bean Bread

Garbanzo bean bread

I needed to take a break yesterday from my big metadata research project for LIBR 281, plus it was raining, and what better to do on a rainy day than to bake a loaf of bread? For this loaf, I followed the Basic Garbanzo bread recipe in Bette Hagman’s The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread: More than 200 Wheat-Free Recipes. Though some excellent gluten-free cookbooks have been published recently, Bette Hagman’s cookbooks are still the best, and I would guess that some of the best gluten-free cooks have learned a few things from her. Hagman’s flour blends can be made from scratch or purchased from Authentic Foods. After nearly eight years of gluten-free experimentation, I have only recently learned that using superfine brown rice flour makes all the difference in the texture–and in baking successfully. With lots of practice I have gone from making literal door stops to food that can be eaten. (My daughter had one of her best cross-country runs after eating one of my door stops, but that’s another story). Some creations even look appetizing! I can’t say that for this loaf. It’s pretty pathetic looking. The hole in the bottom of the loaf from the paddle annoys me, but I am more comfortable using a bread machine than not.

The cookbook

The flours used in this recipe are garbanzo bean, sorghum, tapioca and cornstarch. This is a nearly fool-proof recipe, like most of the recipes in this book, and it has good flavor. I make this bread often but occasionally it just flops. I’m not sure why, but I think it I must measure incorrectly. There are a lot of ingredients to measure and I am easily distracted. I added an extra half cup of flour blend to the bread machine for this batch. This morning I made a tasty batch of French toast using rice milk and eggs and a little vanilla powder (also from Authentic Foods). This bread was still fresh, and gluten-free breads don’t absorb as much as regular bread, so I had a lot of leftover batter.

I think my next breadmaking venture will be to try Bette’s Four Flour Bread–but it will have to wait until this huge assignment is done.