Baking with a cause: YOU and getting you back in the kitchen too!
I’m a language teacher, so let me start this the right way:
What is a rally?
- Noun: a demonstration, a sequence of strokes between serving and scoring a point (as in tennis or squash).
- Verb: to come into orderly arrangement, to renew order, or united effort, as troops scattered or put to flight; to assemble, to unite, to collect one’s vital powers or forces; to regain health or consciousness; to recuperate.
There are so many ways to take this initiative. So many definitions that ring true for people who are newly diagnosed with Celiac Sprue – or Gluten Intolerance. So many different reasons why even those of us who have been diagnosed for a while still manage not to bake any more because of the initial fears of failure, or wasted ingredients (expense!), or downright disappointment with the results. But here is the reality:
We need each other.
Those of us in the gluten-free world really need each other. Together we have created a community where we have pushed each other to develop new recipes, answered questions (even those unfit for food blogs!), supported each other through the isolation that it feels like – and can often still be, and pushed our local markets and economies in to providing gluten-free food options in many, many places. Oh, yes. We need each other to keep it all.
But this rally? This one is for YOU. That little part of you that is fearful of getting in to the kitchen and trying your hand at baking again. It is intended to quell the little voice of doubt in your head that prevents you from just tossing what you have into a bowl and making breakfast for yourself and your loved ones without fear of failure or the sense of disappointment.
I know that feeling very well.
You see, I was diagnosed in 2000. But I truly didn’t start cracking open my family recipes until nearly 4 years later. Up until that point, I stuck to some Bette Hagman or Rebecca Reilly books. Bette was an amazing pioneer and was my only resource upon diagnosis beyond the random (and at that time – hard to find!) internet source. Rebecca Reilly’s cookbook became a beacon of hope for me. She is a trained culinary artist who provides recipes for classic and delicious cakes, pies, tortes, etc. All the things I needed to feel like I could make a birthday cake and actually *enjoy* it.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that these women were also giving me the courage to keep baking. To keep trying new recipes. My Love encouraged me to make my old favorites, but I always denied their possibilities. I mean really.. who would have thought that I would be making batches of gluten-free goodies to share with friends and have for ready for my girls? Potstickers? Croissants? Thin crust, non-bready pizza crusts? Soft, pliable wrap bread? Oh yes. All of these and more.
Why? Because it works. And it is so, SO much less difficult that I imagined (or feared) that it would all be. In fact, apart from a standard loaf of bread, I have found gluten-free food items and baking to be rather forgivable. In fact, it was within the last two years or so (since the Chicklet’s arrival) that I have begun to cook and bake like my grandma’s recipe box: handful, pinch, dash, etc. And before this? All of those measurements would drive me batty. I mean really: a pinch? Come on now. But – yes – a pinch! It makes sense to me now. Duh! Everything is a ratio or percentage and it works.
Shauna and I bantered briefly a while ago about the ratio of whole grain flours to starch when we bake. We each felt that there are far too many starches in standard gluten-free baked goods and we were working to reduce how much starch we were using. Not surprisingly, we were close in our ratios. Both of us were using about 70% whole grain flours and 30% starch. With these measurements, I can make a batch of basic gluten-free flours for making cookies or muffins, etc. (Not bread however – that’s a different story.)
Recently, she emailed a bunch of us to start a rally. A rally to teach that ratios really are the key to taking off in the kitchen. Michael Ruhlman published his book “Ratio” which explores all of the ratios in cooking and baking. Many of us have read his work (it reads much more like a notebook than a cookbook – which is great for me) and have wondered about the exact ratios we have found to be successful as well. Thus the beginnings of a rally.
And where best to begin but with breakfast? And pancakes.
Gluten Free Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Pancakes Photo by Kate Chan
The only problem with pancakes? Once you start recipe testing, you can’t stop. Trust me. Even my non-bread-eating Chicklet is now asking for mini-pancakes and “dip-dip” (maple syrup or melted peanut butter with apple “fries”) for her breakfast. She doesn’t want the ones from a restaurant, nope. She wants “Momma’s”. (Oh, I love that.) I’ve made pancakes often before, but honestly… I don’t always measure. There is something about having grown up with pancakes that made the batter intuitive once you know the parts/pieces involved.
I suppose it is much like my sister who with her artist-trained eye can see the different layers of color in paintings and the world. It helps her recreate what she sees or wants to see. For me? It’s about the texture, the mixture, the consistency and the flavor. Those are my artist’s colors. They are the paints I play with. Beyond that? The ingredients are just the components to the paints.
My friends and I were talking at work the other day about gluten-free eating. They were sincerely curious about what kind of baking and cooking I do at home. For teachers, we were experiencing a rare event: lunch off campus with adults only and for more than 25 minutes. It was a slice of heaven. I knew lunch was going to be at a restaurant near the school we were visiting, so I had done my leg work. I had found the restaurant with a gluten-free menu and when the question of “Where do you guys want to eat?” popped up, I was assertive enough to request we ate at “X” because they have a gluten-free menu. Armed with my reasoning (and the fact they could eat vegetarian there too), we were off.
But once the food was served,the questions began. I’m sure it is because my GF option looked just like the rest of their plates. And so the conversation ran through the usual topics: what do you eat? where do you get it? how often do you bake/cook? etc. I mentioned how lucky I felt to be so empowered with my own food choices and experience new things. I told them how hard it is at first and how socially isolating it can be no matter how much experience we have. And we talked about these pancakes.
None of them had ever made pancakes from scratch. I told them how. One woman quickly calculated the cost of her pancake mix and the cost of the ingredients and just about kicked herself. Yeap, I said. And you’re not even gluten-free. Just imagine what those prices are like. (OH! I wish I had a photo of her eyes when she calculated that cost out for you! LOL)
Anyway, here’s the deal.
PANCAKES ARE GOOD.
PANCAKES ARE COMFORTING.
PANCAKES ARE EASY.
Just go in your kitchen and try it.
There are a dozen of us gluten-free bloggers participating with this Gluten Free Ratio Rally about pancakes. We have plans for more rallies in the future. But the fun part is just how we all took a ratio (4:4:2:1) (flour, liquid, egg, fat) and what we did with it.
Since I chose to use nut flour (either hazelnut or almond), I had to bump up my liquid a bit more. There is something about nut flours that always requires a splash or so more of milk than other flours. Regardless, if you have ever made pancakes before, you will know the batter texture when you see it. It should be thick enough to coat spoon generously and yet thin enough that it will ooze off the spoon and back into the rest of the batter. And then… you can make pancakes like these:
Gluten Free Whole Grain Pancakes with Strawberries Photo by Kate Chan
My pancake ratio is this:
- 200 grams gluten-free flour mix (whole grains + starch)
- 240 grams of liquid
- 100 grams of eggs or 2 eggs
- 50 grams of butter
NOTES about this ratio:
- The gluten-free flour mix is 160 grams of whole grains, 40 grams of starch – a mix of 4:1 whole grain to starch. For the flours I chose, this meant 1 cup of whole grains + 1/4 cup of starch.
- The liquid is increased due to nut meals being used in the flour mix. Use less if not using not meals (200 grams = 3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon of buttermilk)
- You can use less fat (butter) successfully, but don’t omit it completely or your pancakes will be “dry” in texture.
Gluten Free Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Pancakes
(Printable recipe can be found here.)
Makes 12-24 pancakes, depending on your preferred size
130 grams (3/4 cup) millet flour
30 grams (1/4 cup) hazelnut or almond meal
40 grams (1/4 cup) sweet rice flour or tapioca starch flour
75 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder
5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) salt
100 grams (2) eggs
240 grams (1 cup) low-fat buttermilk
50 grams (3 Tablespoons) butter, melted
30 grams (1/4 cup) dried cherries
30 grams (1/4 cup) chopped pecans or walnuts or sliced almonds
- Mix together all wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, melted butter) in your blender. (Or use an immersion blenderor mini blender which is what I do.)
- Add your dry ingredients (feel free to just dump them in OR mix them in a separate bowl together and then dump them in). Mix until there are no dry lumps.
- Preheat a griddle over medium heat. (I used a non-stick griddle, so no additional oils were needed).
- Pour 2-4 Tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. Sprinkle the tops with chopped nuts and dried cherries.
- Leave undisturbed until bubbles form and pop on the edges and form in the center. The edges will turn slightly golden brown. (See this photo.) Then gingerly slide a spatula underneath and flip the pancakes.
- Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes (the second side takes less time). Adjust the temperature (medium-low?) for the next batch as needed.
- Keep warm until serving in a covered dish in a preheated/warm oven.
- Serve with your favorite “dip-dips”.
To Make the Gluten Free Whole Grain pancakes, omit the dried cherries and the chopped nuts. Serve with chopped fruit, powdered sugar (not pictured as the Chicklet doesn’t like her pancakes with “powder”), your favorite marmalade, melted peanut butter, etc.
Happy pancake making, all!
You can find the other Gluten Free Blogger Ratio Rally pancake recipes here:
Tara at A Baking Life : Supper Pancakes (with bacon inside!)
Lauren at Celiac Teen : GF, Egg-free, Dairy Free pancakes
Karen at Cooking Gluten-Free : Buckwheat Pancakes
Silvana at Dishtowel Diaries : Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes
Irvin at Eat the Love : Quinoa-Cornmeal Pancakes with honey and rosemary
Britt at GF in the City : Spiced Teff Pancakes
Shauna at Gluten-Free Girl : Pancakes with cinnamon and cardamon
Jenn at Jenn Cuisine : Hazelnut and Coconut Pancakes
Erin at The Sensitive Epicure : GF Oatmeal and Buckwheat Pancakes
Carol at Simply Gluten-Free : Maple and GF Oat Pancakes
Plus, as an added bonus, Lisa at Gluten-Free Canteen created a GF Potato Pancake
And a special note of thanks to Anile Prakash of GirlFriday.ca for creating our fabulous Gluten Free Ratio Rally logo. It’s a fabulous way to unite the effort and RALLY us all to better health together. Thank you. (And for any of your interested in her work, please check out her site here or send her an email.)