Monday, June 6, 2011

Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

A generous friend recently gave me a whole box of gluten-free baking ingredients; while I am not gluten-free, baking alternatives always interest me. I feel like I've developed a sense of the necessary components of baked goods with gluten, so I've been reading gluten-free recipes for a while to get an idea of how they work. Most of the time, I am not excited enough about a recipe to buy the different flours, starches, and gums required of gluten-free baking, so I never have the exact ingredients necessary.

Now that I DO have the ingredients, however, the experimentation has begun. I read a bit of the theory on Gluten-Free Girl's blog, and explored recipes on websites including King Arthur Flour, which sells quality ingredients and has nice recipes. On the King Arthur site, this recipe for Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes caught my eye because they just sound bright and cheery - and that's exactly how they turned out! Lemon zest really is a magical ingredient, and is a happy complement to the slightly crunchy cornmeal.

The original recipe calls for potato starch, which I didn't have, so I subbed in tapioca flour/starch (understanding from Gluten-Free Girl that different starches generally serve the same chemical role in a given baked good). I used the melted butter option, since I love butter, but it may be made dairy-free as well by using olive or canola oil instead of butter, and almond or soy milk instead of the milk. I always enjoy the flavor combination of olive oil and lemon, but if olive oil disagrees with you or is too strong a flavor for you, canola may be a better choice. I did end up adding an extra tablespoon of milk to thin out the batter, and they turned out well.

These pancakes are an easy foray into the world of gluten-free goods because they use ingredients that are naturally gluten-free but not that hard to find, and the process of making them is not difficult. Cornmeal is used in Johnnycakes, so it is a time-tested pancake option, producing nice texture and mild flavor. I'm pretty sure my guest did not realize these were gluten-free, so that says something, right?

I'll be working on some whole grain gluten-free muffins later this week, so stay tuned!

Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes

In a mixing bowl, whisk together:

1/2 C potato starch or tapioca flour/starch
3/4 C cornmeal (whole grain or regular)
3 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/8 tsp xanthan gum

In a separate bowl or measuring cup, beat together:

2 large eggs
3 T melted butter or vegetable oil
3/4 C milk
2 T grated lemon zest or 1/2 tsp lemon oil (I used the zest of two lemons)

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. The batter should be thinner than normal pancake batter, so if it's not add another tablespoon or two of milk to the batter.

Preheat a pan or griddle to medium-high heat; if you have an electric griddle set it to 350 degrees. Grease the pan or griddle.

Pour about 2 T of batter per pancake into the pan. Cook each pancake for 1-2 minutes, until the top is bubbly and the edges are dry, and then flip and cook for another minute or so on the other side.

Serve hot with maple syrup, agave syrup, berries, whatever suits your fancy.

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