Shrove Tuesday always reminds me of my Elementary School days when each child looked forward to Pancake Day! A day where we got to indulge in pancakes….not only for lunch at school but usually for dinner with my family as well. Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was done because the ingredients were considered an indulgence, which were restricted during Lent.
Lucky for me, I wasn’t diagnosed with Celiac Disease until much later in life so I could enjoy Pancake Day with my friends and family each year. However, I started to wonder if Pancake Day is still a tradition at my school and if those children with a gluten or dairy allergy are left out? Food allergies didn’t seem to be as common when I was in school and now I wonder if schools are able to accommodate the growing trend of food allergies and intolerances among children.
Now that I have children of my own, I want to keep these same traditions with my family. Unfortunately, I can’t whip up a quick pancake recipe using regular flour anymore. I have to experiment using different combinations of flours to make a gluten free recipe. Sure, there are the ready-made gluten free pancake mixes, but I enjoy coming up with my own recipes and learning how the culmination of different flours work together to create a delicious (hopefully!) end result.
I title this post “Part 1” because I wasn’t too successful with my first attempt at making gluten free pancakes. However, I did learn quite a bit and I look forward to Part 2, where hopefully, my recipe will be worth sharing. The main thing I learned this time is the importance of ingredient ratios. I read a great blog called “Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef” quite a bit. Shauna, the author of this blog, is extremely passionate about creating wonderful gluten free recipes and she always inspires me to appreciate food and the process of creating a great meal. Shauna always lists out her ingredients to her recipes in weight vs. cups, which makes a lot of sense since each type of flour differs in weight – one cup of brown rice flour weighs is not the same weight as one cup of sorghum flour or tapioca starch. Each baked good recipe has a ratio of liquid to flours to eggs to fat and it is important to be mindful of this ratio when baking. The ratio differs based on the type of baked good (i.e. muffins, cookies, pies, etc.) and it’s important to understand the way these ingredients work in proportion to one another. Once you understand this concept, the process of substituting ingredients and/or transforming a recipe into a gluten free alternative becomes much easier. Run out of potato starch? Simply weigh out the same amount of tapioca starch instead. Avoiding dairy? Use the same weight of rice or almond milk instead of whole milk. Whatever your substitution need, you can easily and successfully change your recipe and make it much easier to bake based on your dietary requirements.
The classic ratio for pancakes is 4 parts flour, 4 parts liquid, 2 parts egg and one part fat. Since a large egg equals 2 ounces, it’s easiest to start with 2 ounces as the base. However, if a recipe calls for 8 ounces (4 x 2 ounces = 8) of flour, simply double the ratio of the ingredients (i.e. 2 eggs = 4 ounces). Unfortunately, for part 1 of my pancake experiment, I messed up the liquid part. I set out on the challenge of creating a delicious bacon and apple pancake. However, I used 8 ounces of shredded apple, with the belief that this could be considered liquid. Unfortunately, my batter turned out very dry and I ended up adding about 8 ounces of milk and a few ounces of apple sauce to get the desired consistency. As a result, my pancakes tasted underdone due to the amount of excess liquid I used. Although my recipe didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, I feel like I have a much better understanding of baking proportions and I am much more confident in creating better tasting gluten free baked goods from now on.
I look forward to posting ‘Part 2’ to my pancake adventures and hope that my pancakes will end up tasting better so that I can share the recipe with you!