Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday

When my husband is away, my 5-year-old and I often have breakfast-for-dinner. This usually means that I have no plan for food and we will pour milk on cereal and play Candyland, then eat ice cream cones.

So today, when a friend's 5-year-old asked if we were having pancakes for supper, it made supreme sense. I am not super-religious, rather, I think I am spiritual. Pagan, a good friend once said. But I like the idea of Shrove Tuesday -- use up all the butter and eggs in the house before the Lenten Fast -- and while I was planning to use the eggs and butter to make a cake to send to my step-daughter in college (promise we'll do that tomorrow!), pancakes seemed way more fun. And a little bit spiritual.

There is only one thing about pancakes: I have been gluten-free for almost two years, and never met a gluten-free pancake to write home about. Or anywhere, for that matter. My husband, bless him, tries every so often of a Sunday to throw together some vehicle for syrup we can all eat. So far, no dice.

It is important to mention that NO home-made pancake has ever made the grade with me, gluten or no. You see, there is a pancake of legend in my gluten-ous past. It is served in a dive called Dick's Harbor House, on the shores of Lake Chautauqua, New York, and is fluffy, high, light and full of flavor. I have tried to pry the chef's secret from many a waitress, including my earnest friend Carolyn, to no avail; they just shake their head sadly and roll their eyes. I've never ventured back to the kitchen ask the cook himself (or herself) but I think in part that might be because I secretly fear it will be so disgusting back there I may never return. But despite this lack of hard evidence, I have for years suspected that the secret ingredient may just be vanilla.

So tonight, Shrove Tuesday, I put aside the visions of flat, burned discs of rice flour and embarked on a mission: fluffy, light, flavorful pancakes. Gluten-free.

Talk about your 100-year snow.

Armed with vanilla extract that I request from a girlfriend who vacations in Mexico each year, I hit the stove, 5-year-old and all. I made it up while he measured and stirred. Then he played me a little electric guitar while I fried them.

It might be the electric guitar that did it. Next time I am at Dick's, I will inquire if the cook plays. Because darned if these weren't the lightest-fluffiest- yummiest pancakes I've ever turned out. And did I mention they are gluten free?

I won't tell if you won't.

Fat Pancakes

1/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup sweet rice flour (I think it would be fine to use all one or the other, I had just a little in a bag to use up)
1/2 cup tapioca flour (also sold as tapioca starch)
4 tablespoons dry buttermilk powder
3 teaspoons vanilla sugar (fill a jar with sugar and stir with a split vanilla pod, store until needed - which I promise will be more than you think, once you have it. In fact you may wonder how you ever didn't have it)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
sprinkle of cinnamon sugar (I have a shaker on hand with raw sugar and ground cinnamon for just such emergencies)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons applesauce
1 1/2 cups water

Mix or sift dry ingredients together. Stir in the eggs and applesauce. With a whisk, incorporate water slowly -- you may need more or less depending on how thick you like your pancakes. I have one person here who only likes crepes, and this batter, with more liquid, makes a fine one.

Heat a griddle and melt some butter. Pour batter into rounds, or Mickey Mouse heads, or the initials of your favorite rock star. When uncooked side begins to bubble, slide a spatula under the cake and flip in one deft go. Cook another 5 minutes or so (again, depending on the thickness of your batter), plate and butter. Serve with real maple syrup, preferably from just down the road, or from Indiana.


1 comment:

  1. I loved reading your blog and I know you are "real people", but some real people (aka me) don't have the time to spend cooking half of those "real foods". They look and sound fantastic. Are you for hire?