Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In Search of the Perfect Pancake

For most of my life, I had a strong affinity for donuts. Chocolate eclairs. French crullers. Long Johns. Good ol' glazed. Man, I loved them. Unfortunately, all of the above went out the window with the gluten. Pancakes became the breakfast treat that filled the void. Specifically, it was Pamela's pancake mix that got me through. My whole family fell in love with those quick little, hot off the griddle treats. I love them with blueberries. My daughters love them with chocolate chips. My DH loves them with both.

We were trucking right along with our Pamela pancakes, happy as can be. Then one day I recommended them to a friend. She took a look at the ingredients and frowned. "Buttermilk," she said. "My son can't do dairy." And, with that, our family's pancake conundrum began. 

Our oldest was diagnosed with a dairy sensitivity in February and I thought I had vetted everything. Our story is  yet another example of how you can never be too careful when following a special diet. But, no sense crying over, uh, spilled buttermilk. Pamela and I simply had to go our separate ways and I had to find a new pancake habit. I tried an Elana's Pantry recipe...several times. I love her blog and her books. I've prepared many, many of her recipes and all have turned out devine. That is, all but one: her pancakes. I believe it has to do with the Vitamix she uses to mix the ingredients. My little Oster just can't work that kind of magic. I also tried the pancake recipe in BabyCakes Covers the Classics. Great book and the pancakes were good, but a little too exotic in flavor. The cinnamon was definitely the star of the pancake. We want something that simply acts as a tasty yet subtle vehicle for our blueberries and chocolate. 

This weekend I decided to enter the pancake dating pool. First, I made a list of my criteria for a good pancake mix:

  • Gluten free and dairy free (of course)
  • Low in sugar
  • No crazy ingredients
  • Readily available
  • Not too pricey
  • Cooks well on the griddle
There are only so many pancakes my family is capable of eating in one weekend, so I've decided to try two mixes each weekend we are home until I find something worthy of replacing Pamela. I'm sure my oldest would love if I whipped a few more batches each weekend, but I really don't think that would be a good idea.

My first contestants are King Arthur Flour and Namaste. Both have their advantages with me in the marketing department. King Arthur does a fantastic blog and produces a great catalog that I love to browse when it comes in the mail. Their gluten free mixes are a small segment of their offerings, but they do a great job of providing recipes and tips on their website. Then there is Namaste who makes a spice cake mix that I adore. I make carrot cake cupcakes with it that my conventional eater friends love too. Needless to say, I had high hopes for both.

Let's start with the facts. In the ingredient department, Namaste strikes at least a flesh wound at King Arthur.  Check it: sweet brown rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, rice milk powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and ground vanilla bean. Notice there is no sugar and no xanthan gum. All of those items could be found at any grocery. I love that. I also like that I can pronounce it all. 

King Arthur isn't dead yet, though: whole grain brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, rice flour, sugar, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate), natural flavors, salt and xanthan gum. Hmm. Not great, but not that bad either. Although some do have problems with xanthan gum, I've not noticed any issues in our house. The leavening thing isn't a big of deal, though I'm not thrilled about it. The two things that I really don't care for are the sugar and natural flavors. Sugar I dislike for obvious reasons. Natural flavors just annoy me. What the heck does that even mean? I put it in my cart anyway. See how important these pancakes are to me? I'm already compromising simply in hope of a good pancake hit.

Next is the price. Namaste's mix will make two batches of pancakes. The one batch I made was just right for our family of four. It rings up on Amazon at $4.91. King Arthur's mix recipe was for one batch, but it was huge. I'd recommend cutting it in half. Their mix is $5.99 on Amazon. I bought both at Whole Foods. Unfortunately, I forgot to get my receipt from the gal. I'll be sure to post an update after my next trip. (As promised: both are $6.99 at WF.)

Preparation was easy with both. My oldest daughter made the King Arthur and I fixed the Namaste. We used Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips for both. (She used the mini chips and I used the chunks, just so we could make sure we didn't get them confused.) Both were beautiful on the griddle which made me smile. I spent so much time cursing would-be pancakes with the recipes I'd tried, those little sweet bubbles and the easy flip were pure joy. 

After a making a mess of the kitchen and testing my kids' patience as I snapped a couple of quick photos, we dove in. Both were good. I could be happy with either, as for flavor. My oldest preferred the King Arthur, but she may have simply developed a fondness for her own creation. DH liked the Namaste. My youngest was just happy to be required to eat anything with chocolate for breakfast. 

Bottom line: I'll be buying Namaste again. I like the simple ingredients, lack of sugar and xanthan gum and the price is a bit lower. I certainly wouldn't steer anyone away from King Arthur, though. My only tip would be to cut the recipe in half unless you have a large crew to feed. 

In a couple of weeks, I'll give the gluten free Bisquick and Bob's Red Mill mixes a whirl. In the meantime, let me know if you have any recipes or mixes you like. All suggestions welcome!

*I'm sharing this on Slightly Indulget Tuesday, the Linky party hosted at simplysugarandglutenfree.com. Amy is one of the co-founders of the Nourished Food Bloggers Conference I attended a couple of weeks ago. I highly recommend adding her to your regular rotation of blog reads.

No comments:

Post a Comment



PracticallyHealthy.net | Template By Rockaboo Designs | 2012