Perfect pancakes (which happen to be gluten-free)

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Long plagued by various allergies (grass, pollen, cats), last year Jeff decide to see what would happen if he stopped eating gluten. Jeff is always experimenting on himself, so, honestly, I didn’t expect it to last, but now we are both convinced that steering clear of gluten was a good thing for his health. I am a pretty firm believer in “all things in moderation” when it comes to food, so at first I wasn’t very tolerant of gluten intolerance, and one of my chief concerns was pancakes. Every weekend, I like to make pancakes. What would become of my pancakes? 

Well,  after just a few weeks of experimenting with various flours and dairy products*, I didn’t just discover a good gluten-free pancake, I produced my ideal pancake, a holy grail that had long eluded me. And, miracle of miracles, I remembered exactly what I did, and I wrote it down.

It is crucial to note that whether or not these are your ideal pancakes all depends on what you want from your pancakes. I don’t like them to be cakey, I like them carmel-colored and floppy with buttery edges—think Cracker Barrel, not IHOP. I also like them to be a real day-starter, not dessert, so I am pleased with the protein content of my ingredients. Without further ado, I give you my perfect pancakes:

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Perfect Pancakes (which happen to be gluten free)

1/2 cup of almond meal

1/2 cup of rice flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup greek yogurt

1 egg

1 tablespoon safflower oil (or similar)

Water/milk to thin as needed

Add the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the half-and-half, greek yogurt, egg and oil and stir with a rubber scrapper until all ingredients are well incorporated. The batter should be just slightly thicker than cake batter—wet enough to pour slowly and spread slightly on the griddle, but not runny. I often add about 2 tablespoons of water or milk to thin the batter, but you can vary this as needed since different flour and yogurt brands might result in thicker or thinner batters.

Heat your skillet or griddle until a piece of butter sizzles on impact but doesn’t instantly burn. It you are using a cast iron skillet or griddle, you might want to start preheating it first, before you mix up your batter, since they can be slow to reach the right temperature. I use a cast iron griddle, but I tested the recipe in my non-stick skillet as well, and it worked fine. When you think you have the heat right, add a small piece of butter to the pan (about the size of a pencil eraser) then add a 1/4 cup of batter to the puddle of sizzling butter. If your heat is right, you should see bubbles form in the pancake within about 15 seconds. When the top is covered in bubbles and the edges are starting to set, flip the pancake. Check for doneness, and remove when the bottom is golden-brown.

Now this is key: Add a new piece of butter (just the size of a pencil eraser) to the pan between each pancake. And no, this doesn’t mean you will skip buttering the pancakes when you put them on your plate—what’s the matter with you?! The butter is key to achieving a carmel color and a lacy crunch on the edges (see the second picture above.)

I like to keep the pancakes warm in a little pocket of folded foil on the counter, which works surprisingly well. The recipe makes about 12, but there’s no shame in doubling it. I’m especially fond of serving them with blueberries.**

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 Last photo by Jeff!

* I can’t wait to listen to this episode of Fresh Air. I love when the Test Kitchen folks break down the science of cooking for me!

**These blueberries came in our frozen CSA via Winter Sun Farms. Once a month through the winter, we get a box of frozen or canned items that were harvested from regional farms during peak season. Lots of people neglect the importance of supporting not just local farmers, but local processors, aggregators and distributors, too!

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