Gluten-Free, Allergen-Free Blueberry Pancakes
In the past six weeks since finding out that Gianluca, my 11 year old son, is allergic to 40 different foods I have learned a few things. The biggest culprits/triggers for him are gluten, maize, dairy, eggs, peanuts, hazelnuts, oranges and peaches. To add insult to injury he also tested positive for candida, so no sugar and therefore no grains (even gluten-free ones) for a while.
As someone who actually enjoys the kitchen (within limits…) I have done my fair share of baking. A weekend breakfast always meant pancakes. My kids love pancakes. Usually smothered in honey or nutella. In South Africa we call them crumpets. They’re slightly spongy and very similar to American pancakes, however they are a little smaller than the jumbo sized American ones.
With all these allergies to take note of, I have had to do some research, so that we can still enjoy our family favourites without Gianluca (or me) getting sick. The internet has been an amazing source of information with so many fantastic blogs and websites to help me with this new challenge. Many of my fellow Dubai bloggers have also sent me lots of helpful advise. Thanks guys. I have also spent lots of time in bookshops searching for cookbooks aimed at gluten-free or allergen free diets. So far I have bought three amazingly helpful books. One such book is The Child-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Marie Rominger. The recipes all give alternatives and guidelines so that you can cook wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free and low in sugar. Amazing! You can actually tweak each recipe to suit your needs. How clever is that?
Now, I did say that I’ve learned a few things. I learned that you can substitute egg in recipes by knowing what purpose the egg has in the recipe. Does it bind the ingredients together? Does it act as a leavener, making your cake rise ? For some recipes there is no substitute. Depending on the recipe, you can add mashed banana to bind the ingredients together, in others you can actually omit the egg and it still works beautifully. You can also buy egg-substitute in health food stores. Cheakpea flour blended with water also acts as a binder. I have also leaned to substitute milk/dairy with either soya milk or rice milk or a combination of the two.
Apple sauce can also be substituted for sugar. Don’t get me started on apple sauce! The best thing to do is make your own. Cook apples up in a little water and then puree them when they are soft. The only pure apple sauce without additives of any kind I have found is by Purity, baby apple puree in a jar. I looked at all the available brands in supermarkets both here in Dubai and in South Africa and Purity is the only one that doesn’t mess with the ingredients that mother nature provided. Why do food manufacturers insist on adding sugar, rice flour and preservatives to canned foods, especially food that can actually be canned without these additions? Thank goodness I don’t need to rely on buying jars of baby food. I was horrified to see all the jars of fruit puree for babies with added sugar amoungst other stuff! Bloody hell people. Ok I’ve got that off my chest….
Back to the pancakes. These, I swear to you taste just like those made with ordinary flour (maybe even better…). The texture is lovely. Quite surprising really. My sons are totally impressed and wolf these down like they’ve never eaten pancakes before… table manners are a bit of an issue right now.
Try these, even if you don’t have allergies. I think we all eat far too much gluten anyway so these will be a good alternative now and again.
The original recipe is for Buttermilk Pancakes, I however have tweaked them and just call them:
Fabulous Allergen-Free Pancakes
2 cups (250g) gluten-free all purpose flour / or 210g rice flour plus 40g of chickpea flour
2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder or regular baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/2 cups of soya or rice milk plus 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup of coconut oil (melted) / or melted butter / or dairy free margerine
Sift all your dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and beat the batter until smooth. It takes about 1 minute. If you are using the chickpea flour I suggest an electric hand held beater. The batter should be thick enough to hold together and wet enough to drop off a spoon. Note: If you find that the batter is still to dry just add more milk a little at a time until you have the correct consistency.
Pour the desired amount of batter onto a hot, greased frying pan. I suggest you don’t make them any bigger than the opening of a teacup, since I found that it’s difficult to turn them over and keep then in one piece if they are bigger than that. A good idea would be to ensure that they are no wider than the spatula or egg lift that you are using.
Once you’ve poured your batter into the pan, drop a few blueberries into each round of batter. You can press them into the batter slightly with your fingers if you like.
When there are lots of little bubbles on the surface and lightly golden on the bottom, flip them over with a wide spatula.
Cook until golden on the bottom. Stack them on a plate and serve.
Let me know what you think and how yours turn out.