May 1st, 2012
Married mama of two. Loves to cook. Gluten-free curious.
My curiosity about gluten free cooking piqued when I first read Silvana Nardone‘s gluten and dairy free cookbook, Cooking for Isaiah. That her delicious, easy recipes were gluten (and dairy!) free was a revelation. The book was full of dishes that I knew would satisfy, dishes that were complete—not a word I’d ever associated with gluten-free cooking.
As it goes, once I tuned in, I started hearing and reading about gluten-free cooking everywhere. I noticed amazing recipes. I eyeballed gluten-free ingredients. I listened to stories of how going gluten-free completely changed the way friends—even friends without celiac—felt. My curiosity grew.
Then the Hungry Baby got sick.
As parents tend to do (despite all well-meaning advice), I got online and searched “fatigue + sudden onset limp + smelly poop”—or something along those lines—and read everything that resulted, filing sicknesses into “no,” “possible,” and “very possible” mental silos. Based on what I’d read, celiac disease, the reason why many people go gluten-free, belonged in “possible,” but I slotted it in “very possible.” Parent intuition told me to do so.
The test for celiac was the first I requested of our specialist. I eagerly waited for the results—for answers—but it came back negative. Still, I wasn’t convinced that gluten wasn’t part of the problem. I’d heard lots about people who don’t have celiac, but still greatly benefit from a gluten-free diet. The Hungry Baby didn’t have a gluten allergy, but maybe a harder-to-detect intolerance?
After the test results, we decided to hold off on a gluten-free diet. It’s complicated to go completely gluten-free and with so many possible explanations for the Hungry Boy’s symptoms, it didn’t make sense to haphazardly test factors. Like good detectives, we had to work on solving our medical mystery systematically. But now, with all of that behind us and an explanation that’s really more of a hunch about a chain of events, I can’t help but wonder if a gluten intolerance is one of the links.
To be honest, I also wonder if gluten has stuck in my mind because gluten-free cooking is all the rage in the food world. It’s totally possible. That and I like a good kitchen challenge. (“Hey kids, see how easy and delicious gluten-free cooking can be?!” “Mama, what’s gluten?”) But, for whatever reason, it’s stuck and I’m still curious.
Many gluten-free cooks have a personal flour blend and, if you’re curious too, you should try several before deciding which gives you the results that you like best. I like Silvana’s blend (the one found her aforementioned book) and also Cup 4 Cup, the new(ish) gluten-free flour developed by a research chef for chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry (fancy!). Once you find one or two blends that you like, cooking and baking gluten free is as simple as substituting gluten-free flour for all purpose.
Okay, it’s not really that simple at all—you’d be amazed at what staples contain gluten—but you get my point.
I recently used Cup 4 Cup to make Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pancakes and blew the socks off of my visiting eaters. Nobody could believe that these fluffy pancakes were without springy gluten. (“See! It’s just so simple.”)
I was just happy that they tasted good. And so my curiosity grows.
This recipe was developed with Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour which has a more powdery texture than standard all purpose flour and even some other gluten-free flours. If you want to make these delicious pancakes using something other than Cup 4 Cup, the amount of buttermilk required may vary. Begin with just 2 cups of buttermilk (which will likely suffice for AP flour) and add more as you go until you get the pancake batter texture you like best.
Gluten-Free Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pancakes
adapted from Joy the Baker
(can be shared with kids 8+ mos)*
2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of 2 meyer lemons (you can substitute 2 small, regular lemons)
2 1/2 cups buttermilk, more or less depending on your flour (see note above; recipe for DIY buttermilk)
4 tablespoons butter, melted & cooled, plus more butter for cooking
2 cups gluten-free flour (I use Cup 4 Cup, see note above to substitute your own GF or standard AP flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1. If you want to serve the entire family at once as soon as these are done, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Combine sugar and zest in a small bowl. Using your fingers, thoroughly mix the two; set aside.
2. Whisk together buttermilk, butter and eggs; set aside.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add sugar/zest mixture and combine well. Slowly add these dry ingredients to the wet, stirring to combine well.
4. Heat a pat of butter in a large pan set over medium heat. Coat the surface of the pan with the melted butter and add 2 heaping tablespoons of batter per pancake. (Make sure to leave enough space between pancakes—don’t overcrowd them!) Cook until bubbles pop around the edge of the pancakes and flip. Continue cooking until pancakes are cooked through and golden brown on both sides. Repeat until all the batter is done.
Stack cooked pancakes on a baking sheet or oven-proof plate kept in your warm oven. Otherwise, once cooled through, place pancakes, each separated by a small piece of parchment paper, in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can reheat frozen pancakes in a microwave and/or toaster.
*Note: These make a great early finger food! If your child is not yet managing soft finger foods by 8-months-old, hold off on serving these. Otherwise, cut into age appropriate bites and serve. Consider skipping syrup on portions for little eaters. These have a tiny bit of sweetness on their own that should be enough for your littlest ones.