Pick-Your-Own Gluten Free Pancakes*

*Or, Thanks, Michael Ruhlman (for the rule, man).

[Millet, buckwheat, oat and bean flour with chopped pears and cranberry compote]

I’m all about freedom of choice.

While my dad eats the identical breakfast every day**, I feel the need to rotate among cereal (hot or cold), omelets, baked sweet potato and almond sauce, apple and almond butter, various types of smoothies, last night’s leftovers, or other breakfast baked goods.

While the HH likes to spend his weekends in the same fashion each week (sleep in; brunch at our favorite place; toodle around a bookstore; come home and listen to classical music on his beyond-our-means stereo system), I’d rather do something entirely different each Saturday and Sunday–go to the museum, say, or the farmers market, or read my latest book of choice, or cook up something new in the DDD kitchen, or launch a campaign to get on The Ellen Show.

Similarly, on his watch, the HH takes The Girls along the exact same route each time they go for a walk.  I, on the other hand, can’t help but mix it up a bit: one day to the baseball field, the next to the park, the third to the pond, and so on.

I can’t imagine how people consume the exact same meal every day, or wear the same uniform to school, or choose the same car every time they purchase, or set up a room and never rearrange the furniture.  I mean, don’t they get bored of those foods/ vehicles/ outfits/ spouses (sorry, must have been the influence of the recent Tiger Woods/Jesse James scandals–meant to say, “houses”)?

As you may recall, I am a lover of pancakes.  My favorite breakfast back in the day (that would be the “pre-ACD, looked-okay-on-the-outside-but-was-actually-deteriorating-on-the-inside” day) was pancakes, sausages, scrambled eggs, and home fries.  Never mind that those calories alone could power the entire Gulf Coast cleanup mission; the quality of what I ate was none too great, either.

One aspect of my standard “big breakfast” at restaurants that I didn’t enjoy, however, was the sameness of it.  Wherever we went, it was invariably the same pancake mix each place used, resulting in identical puffy, seemingly inflated, fried-in-hydrogenated-grease cakes that resemble those colored kitchen sponges a little too much for my comfort. (I think they just all used Bisquick as their base, now that I look back on it).  Even in my own kitchen, I’ve had to attempt various types and flavors of pancake to keep my flapjack love alive.

[Millet, rice, tapioca, chickpea flours with blueberries and cashew custard sauce]

Well, the more I’ve experimented with GF baking, the more I’ve come to love the fact that most recipes require a long ingredient list with at least two or three types of flour.  At first, like everyone else, I found this necessity a real drag; I mean, who has all these items in the pantry?  (Of course, there’s always all-purpose GF flour, but to me that sort of defeats the purpose.). Unlike baking with wheat, I realized, gluten free baking affords the opportunity to alter the recipe to your mood, to a particular meal, to a personal taste.  Feel like something rustic and hearty?  Try amaranth, or quinoa as the main flour.  Something light and delicate?  Your choice is millet or sorghum. A hint of chocolate?  Teff adds depth and color.  And so on. Baked goods made with gluten free flours are unique and distinctive; like snowflakes, no two are alike.  And this is a good thing.

Still, there are ways to streamline the process.  Something I noticed when baking from an established GF recipe was that most GF mixes include a grain, a starch, and a bean or legume flour.  In a pinch, they even replaced the beany flour with another grain. If I didn’t particularly like the flavor of the specific grain or bean that was chosen, or if I was missing an ingredient, I decided to experiment, swapping out one for the other.  And guess what?  It almost always worked!  Better yet, sometimes my result was even more flavorful or texturally appealing than the original.

You know how slot machines (those “one-armed bandits”) always display a new combination of pictures (cherries, oranges, and lemons, say) each time you pull the lever?  That’s how I think of this recipe. Like Michael Ruhlman’s concept in Ratio, this basic recipe provides the proportions, and you can change up the contents any way you wish.

There are four main categories–grain, starch, legume and fruit or nut–and you can exchange any item from one category for another from the same category.  So each time you make these pancakes, they’ll turn up a little differently, yet still delicious.

If you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and experiment, too.  Luckily, this pancake recipe was created for substitutions, so any combination should come out palatable, at the least (and once in a while, you get that “coins pouring out the slot in waves” lucky combination that you write down and keep forever.).

There are four flour ingredients in these pancakes, in varied amounts: either 1/2 cup (120 ml) or 1/4 cup (60 ml)***.   Feel free to replace the grains with any other grains from the same category and your pancakes should still be light and fluffy (see exception, below).  Replace the starch with any other starch (see exception) and your pancakes will still be light and fluffy.  And pull out that bean and replace it with another bean or legume and yes, Virginia, your pancakes will still be light and fluffly.

[Amaranth, teff, oat and sorghum with blueberries and warm almond sauce]

So far, I’ve made these with the following combinations: amaranth, teff, oat (a grain exception that functions as a starch in these recipes) and sorghum; millet, buckwheat, oat and whole bean;  rice, arrowroot and carob; and rice, millet, arrowroot and garfava–and they’ve all come out great.

This is the perfect pancake recipe for me: I can switch it up every time I have pancakes for breakfast, yet know that whatever I’ve got, I’ll enjoy the results. No more breakfast boredom!  The spice of life never tasted so good.

I’d love for you to try out your own unique combination of pancake ingredients and share them here!  Feel free to play with the recipe and replace the flours with others from the same category, the tahini with nut butter or other seed butter, the fruits with one(s) of your choice or nuts/seeds, the flax with chia (just remember that you’ll need much less chia–about 1 tsp/5 ml finely ground–instead of each Tbsp/15 ml flax), or the soy milk with almond, hemp or rice milk.  Instead of vanilla, how about almond extract, or lemon?  Instead of cinnamon, how about ginger, cardamom, or another spice? It’s all good!

[Rice, millet, arrowroot and garfava flours with walnut-cacao nut butter]

With all the possibilities out there, I can’t wait to hear about what you create!  Let me know if you try out your own combination, and I’ll add a link to your post.

Have fun with it, and enjoy your varied pancake breakfasts! And with Mother’s Day tomorrow, pancakes might just offer a perfect brunch for you and Mom.  :D

Mum, we’re not that great at cooking pancakes–lack of opposable thumbs, and all that–but we would be happy to share them with you tomorrow.”

** Corn flakes with 1/2 banana, 6 prunes, and a cup of tea, in case you were wondering.

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Comments

  1. This is great! I don’t need to go gluten-free but I’m always interested in new “cuisines” and it turns out I have everything I need to make GF pancakes (save for GF baking powder). They all look scrumptious. :)

  2. Wow! Making gluten-free, vegan pancakes can be tricky. Thanks for this, just in time for me to make pancakes tomorrow!

  3. I make pancakes the old fashioned way and lucky I am that I can, but these do look good :)

  4. I have decided that you are my new favorite blog! I love your writing style and your pictures are just awesome. I think you have a unique twist on every recipe! I also made pancakes this morning. I am intrigued to now try experimenting with flours! I do not care for quinoa but I LOVE LOVE LOVE buckwheat! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Oh, choose-your-own-adventure pancakes! Great idea!

  6. Fun! I often do the “throw it together” pancake approach, but had yet to really hit on the exact ratios. (Hint: 1 cup pumpkin requires A LOT of other stuff added to make pancakes that don’t fall apart, even if they do taste great.)

    You can bet I’ll try out your ratios and report back.

  7. Right on! With choices like this, how can pancake love go wrong?

  8. THIS is how I love to cook. How did you know?! I LOVE to break down recipes into templates with different options for each part. This is why I love Mark Bittman’s cookbooks. He writes like I cook. And so do you!!!! And I LOVE pancakes so much.

    I’ve been looking for a new pancake recipe, since the blender buckwheat p’cakes, while wonderful, are growing old.

    And don’t get me started on people who eat the exact same breakfast every day. My sweetie is extremely suspicious of anything that’s not oatmeal and coffee. He’ll stretch out for pancakes on weekends, but I’ve had to wear him down over the years.

  9. Ricki: I am one of those dreaded people who eats the same thing every day. oatmeal. oatmeal. oatmeal.
    but you can turn oatmeal into pancakes very easily… with left over oatmeal (works best if dense or been in the fridge), simply spread it out like a pancake and fry it. top with bananas or a bit of agave. i like very simple and quick recipes.

  10. The possibilities! This is really awesome, Ricki! In Germany pancakes are not considered a breakfast item. But I think that is a very bad thing. I’m going to serve these to some little guests we’re expecting later this week.

  11. THANK YOU for gluten-free & vegan pancakes – you made my day!

  12. Mo,
    Thanks! And I think experimenting w/ new cuisines is fun, too. :)

    Megan,
    Yay! Thanks. Hope you enjoy them! :)

    Jacqueline,
    These are a little more fussy, but still good. :)

    Healthy Apron,
    Thank you so much! *blush*. And buckwheat is definitely one of my faves, too. :)

    Josiane,
    I like thinking of it as an adventure–thanks!

    Deanna,
    I’ve done the pumpkin thing, too. . . yes, lots and lots of flour. ;)

    Shellyfish,
    I definitely love pancakes–my favorite breakfast!

    Leah,
    I hadn’t thought of Bittman’s recipes in that way, believe it or not–but yes, now that you mention it! And so funny about your sweetie. :)

    cathy,
    LOVE the oatmeal-cum-pancake idea! I am going to try it out. Soon. ;)

    Mihl,
    I agree–they shouldn’t be only for breakfast. But they are just BEST for breakfast. ;)

    Mom,
    Glad to hear it! Hope you enjoy them. :)

  13. Courtney says:

    Darn! I was actually with my mom–who is just beginning to eat gluten free–this weekend and out of town so I didn’t see your post…this would have been perfect for her! Oh well…next time I see her I will be making these for her for sure. Between now and then I will get lots of practice finding the perfect combo–I can’t wait to experiment with your formula, Ricki!

    Courtney

  14. Those all look so thick and hearty, and SO good! I love that walnut-cacao nut butter topping, too–oh my. :-)

    Shirley

  15. oh wow – you have me drooling! these look amazing and I adore your photos!

  16. I literally just made fantastic vegan pancakes this morning – mmm, buckwheat.

    http://www.soupasana.com/2010/05/10/day-23-tweaked-pancakes/

  17. You can’t beat pancakes! And I’m with you, I love the freedom of playing with so many different kinds of gf flours. Buckwheat will always be one of my faves, but when I want a lighter/fluffier combo there are so many to choose from.

  18. All of your variations look delicious! I normally stick to my whole wheat pancake recipe, but I’m sure a little weekend gf adventure would be good for me.

  19. I’m like you Ricki in that I need variation and I love recipes like this that allow a little diversity. I have a feeling after making them a few times this recipe is easy enough for me to remember without having to pull out my binder.

  20. Courtney,
    Hope you and your mom had a great time! It’s fun to play with variations. . .I guess they’re almost endless!

    Josie,
    Thank you so much! And thanks for your comment. :)

    Kate,
    Yes, buckwheat is one of my all-time favorites, too. :)

    Jes,
    It just seems so much more appealing, doesn’t it? ;)

    Erin,
    I think you should live dangerously–have an adventure. ;)

    Crystal,
    I agree–the proportions are pretty standard–easy to remember!

  21. Mmm pancakes. They all look so good! I’m one of those people that has the same thing for breakfast everyday. Not for years and years but for at least a year probably. There’s too much thinking involved in coming up with a new breakfast everyday! But I must admit you’ve made it very easy with telling us how to substitute flours. =)

  22. Wow! I want pancakes now! Thanks for the pics and ideas. I’m making some for dinner later this week :)

  23. I am interested in your sauces for your pancakes. I’ve recently gotten into making pancakes and waffles frequently because cereals are incredibly expensive where I live. I’m always on the lookout for tasty sauce options. Do you have a post anywhere with recipes for your sauces? They look delicious… especially the cashew custard sauce and warm almond sauce. Yum!

  24. Joelle,

    I didn’t actually keep close track of the sauce recipes, but for the cashew custard, I cooked almond milk with about 1 Tbsp (15 ml) arrowroot until thick, then blended it with soaked cashews that had been pureed with a bit more milk until perfectly smooth; add a bit of vanilla and sweeten with stevia. Or you could try this recipe (omit the miso and make it sweet). The warm almond sauce is this one, warmed very slightly. For the cranberry compote, I simply heated fresh cranberries with a little water and cooked on low until thick; added about 1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice and some stevia to taste. Another lovely topping is the Orange Fig Sauce if you’re allowed fruit. :)

  25. Great post! Quick question – what purpose do the bean flours serve? Why do you use a bean flour instead of another grain flour? Do they provide something structurally?

  26. I love gluten free pancakes! Since my husband was diagnosed with celiac, I have done nothing but play with flours. I have to say I love almond buckwheat! It is amazing how good and different all the flours are. Yours all look delicious!

  27. (Just posted this on the wrong post so if you see it twice just know that I am tired out tonight)

    wow that is a great idea – I have used the Gluten free goddeess guide to flours to help me think about substituting GF flours but this a really helpful way to think about it – after all does anyone really have every single GF flour in that list – if they do I want to see the pantry (oops maybe you do – if so I want to see your pantry)

    And I think I would love to spend my weekends with you – I love the mix it up when it comes to breakfasts and going out – though I do hate rearranging the furniture!!!

  28. Brilliant! Choose Your Own Adventure pancakes!

    For some reason, I’d never put Ruhlman’s ratios + GF cooking together. And it makes SO much sense!
    :)

    Thanks for another great recipe – can’t wait to give it a go.

  29. These pancakes were my lunch yesterday! They were supposed to be breakfast but after the flour was measured I decided it was getting warm-ish outside and a flower bed really needed that mulch. By the time I came back in I was so hungry I ate half the batch – and they were so good. I used buckwheat, tapioca, and chickpea flours, tossed in a tablespoon of coconut flour instead of spices and used coconut as one of the flavors. Beautiful pancakes and made with such good ingredients. Ellen REALLY needs you on her show!

  30. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I have insane food allergies, to the point where I can pretty much count all of my acceptable foods on my fingers and toes, but this may end up working for me..if I amend it a little! How exciting would it be to be able to eat a pancake again?!

    So I’m wondering, if I wanted to substitute one of the flours for coconut flour, would that work? If so, which list would it fall under? I’m not too picky about how they turn out…I’ll just be thrilled to be eating something pancakey!
    :)

  31. The pancakes look delicious …especially with some great topping.

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