My gluten-free lifestyle began a little heroic.
It’s notable to give up gluten (and, in my case, milk) in order to breastfeed your baby, right?
I put my stubborn streak to good use and shunned my baby’s food allergens, all the while comforting myself that someday I’d be able to eat “normally” again.
When my son weaned just before his second birthday, I made a startling discovery:
I am allergic to gluten.
And whey, but that’s another story.
Not surprisingly, most of our children share the inability to digest wheat. I guess that makes us a gluten-free-family.
In our crazy life-without-wheat-and-a-bunch-of-other-stuff, I’ve learned a thing or two about cooking around food allergies. And I still have a lot to learn.
I can make a fluffy batch of gluten-free pancakes (from scratch), and that’s something. Right?
Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way about making a stack of flapjacks that’s worth eating (and blogging about!):
Always use xanthan gum.
I have yet to produced edible gluten-free pancakes (or much else, for that matter) without the addition of xanthan gum.
What is xanthan gum, you ask?
Xanthan gum is the “glue” (figuratively speaking!) that makes gluten-free baked goods stick together. In wheat products, gluten is the “glue” that gives elasticity and texture. Since we’re gluten-free, we need xanthan gum. Without it, pancakes will literally crumble on your plate.
Guar gum is another ingredient you can use to make your gluten free baked goods hold together well. It does the same thing as xanthan gum.
Gluten-free batter tends to be extremely runny.
I found that soaking my batter helps it to thicken and produce fluffy pancakes instead of runny “crepes”.
You can either make your entire batter and keep in the fridge overnight, or mix only the flours, xanthan gum, and liquids (milk or water), add a tablespoon or two of whey (or lemon juice), and leave it out on the counter overnight.
The second way is the most “healthy”, as the whey helps break down the grains and make them more digestible. If all this sounds crazy and unfamiliar, I recommend getting your hands on a copy of Nourishing Traditions for more information on the benefit of soaking grains. Either way you choose to soak it, gluten-free pancake batter behaves itself much better when it’s had a few hours to amalgamate.
Use fresh grains instead of store-bought flours.
You can purchase just about any gluten-free flour in a bag: buckwheat, sorghum, millet, brown rice flour, arrowroot and potato starch, etc.
My experience with store-bought flours is that they often produce rather flat pancakes, especially if you don’t follow the soaking step (above).
Grinding and using fresh grains yields a sweeter, fresher, fluffier product.
I use and recommend the Nutrimill.
Mix your pancake batter in a food processor instead of by hand.
Again, my experience with gluten-free batters is that they tend to be runny.
I learned early on not to mix my pancake batter by hand. I always process it in my Blendtec for one to two minutes. This will do the trick, even if you don’t soak your batter overnight, and even if you can’t grind your own grains.
These are just a few simple tips I’ve learned that help my pancakes turn out moist, fluffy and delicious.
If you want to give these tips a try, I welcome you to try our family’s favorite pancake recipes: