Monday, July 5, 2010

Pancake heaven: King Arthur Gluten-Free Mix

I've had celiac disease for as long as I can remember. I haven't always eaten gluten-free. Per doctors' suggestions at lack of symptoms, I'm glad to have had fifteen or so (mostly) symptom-free years with which to experience some of the finer things in life: pizza, bagels, cupcakes, and craft beers, to name a few. I always knew it couldn't last. When I turned 21 and the symptoms came roaring back, I was left with an extremely unappealing choice to make: give up gluten forever, knowing exactly how delicious and chewy and satisfying and wonderful the food it inhabits is, or deal with being sick for the rest of my life.

I chose to go gluten-free. The point being, although I am very happy to be well, I know what a pancake is supposed to taste like. And I know it well enough to have a good solid craving.

Gluten is a protein that resides in wheat, barley, and rye. It's the honeycomb structure of gluten that helps build air pockets and gives bread and pasta its springy texture and form. Gluten-y goods are complex in structure; ergo, delicious. It follows that it tends to be somewhat difficult to find gluten-free products that aren't incredibly dense. A pancake, for example, should be almost crisp on the outside, light and fluffy inside; a hockey-puck pancake simply will not do. Much to my delight, in the years spent sampling gluten-y eats, the gluten substitution industry has really come quite a ways.

I came across this review of King Arthurs' Gluten-Free pancake mix in my reader in conjunction with a serious pancake craving early last week. Fate? I think so. I've tried several decent, even good gluten-free pancake mixes in the past three years, but nothing that really blew my socks off.

So I bought online.

My set-up.

Combination of different types of flours; rice, potato, and tapioca, with xanthan gum.

Started off kind of soupy... concerning.

But then started to thicken

until it coated the back of a wooden spoon; a standard batter consistency.

They held together nicely for the flip. Voila! Pancakes!

I made slightly larger pancakes than recommended, and the batch yielded 11 instead of 16. Plenty for two, plus leftovers.

These blew my socks off. They were rich and tasty, light, chewy and even fluffy. They also tugged at the socks of my somewhat picky gluten-eating compatriot, who so generously agreed to go gluten-free for the morning and pronounced them "delicious" and "just as good as real pancakes." Hooray!

It's taken a few years to stop seeing my gluten-intolerance as a prison sentence, and start viewing it as a way to be able to live and be healthy, while still enjoying simple pleasures like a pancake breakfast. Fancy things, too. We made gluten-free tiramisu the other night using gluten-free cake as a ladyfinger stand-in. Our friends agreed, it was delightful.

I've been looking for a new creative outlet, and think I may have found one in attempting to understand and improve upon gluten-free cooking. I'm hoping that doing my research and trying new things will open new doors in regards to cooking delicious gluten-free substitutes for myself and my friends and family. In the meantime, try King Arthurs. Delish!

I'm also going to be working on my photography skills. Clearly, they could use a bit of spit-shining as well.


  1. Looks great! Do you like Quinoa? I eat it a lot instead of pasta- though I am admittedly a carbaholic. I have used several King Arthur G-Free mixes for a friend- and they are really quite good.

    Have you tried the bread flour? I had good success with it. Husband consumed it, which is always a good sign.

    PS: your pics look good to me- I find it really hard to photograph food. I'm working on my skills, too.

  2. Nice review...and I will forward this onto my Hillary...she doesn't have problems with gluten, but she is certainly interested in eating well to maintain a healthy life-style.

  3. Hil - thanks! I do like quinoa, although I've actually never eaten it straight up. But one of my favorite gluten-free pasta brands makes the pasta from quinoa, and I love the flavor. I have yet to try the bread flour, but I will! If the men are eating it, that IS a good sign.

    Mrs. P - thank you! There are still plenty of ways to be unhealthy while g-free (see: bacon photos), but I feel like it's a good start. Supposed to be good for you (even the non-celiac yous). Hope you are enjoying your travels!

  4. My step-mom and step-sister just recently discovered their health issues are due to a gluten-intolerance. Well, actually my step-mom turned out to be very allergic. I think they're both just starting to get to an ok place with their new lifestyle choices, I'll definitely tell them about this find!!

    Good luck with future discoveries!!

  5. I think this will be perfect for hubby. He's the more health conscious between us. He never complains about my cooking but is always suggesting for organic this and that, lol! Well, I will surely give this a go. Pancake is part of our morning ritual, the kids simply love it. It'll be great if they'll enjoy it, too, and not notice any difference in taste. I'm crossing my fingers on that, :)

  6. Pancake Recipes - Glad to be of service! We've tried this mix again now and are in agreement that it's totally delicious.

  7. Here are a few Quinoa recipes I spotted over at The Kitchn.

    Also, at sprouted Kitchen, a Quinoa falafel recipe for the GF folks.

  8. Love this article and various others on your blog! Clearly there's a secondary career for you either as a photographer or dessert chef! I have a good friend who is gluten free often comes over I will give this a go!

    From a pancake loving Brit!

    PS used to work at DraftFCB London

  9. Thanks so much for reading John - love hearing from a former DFCB'er! One of my Chicago DFCB colleagues is headed out there soon for a two-year stint - exciting stuff! Thanks again for the kind words, I really appreciate it!

  10. No worries! How you finding media planning you fledgling media maven? I skipped out of planning at Draft to Ogilvy Melbourne and via brief stint at M&C Saatchi now back as a planner in London! Just can't get enough of planning. I'm (sort of) doing a blog at!

  11. Did you do this in the morning? Getting up to make pancakes is one thing, taking pictures is another, taking great pictures of the aforementioned pancakes is surreal.

  12. Haha I did make them in the morning, however I believe it was a Saturday at approximately 11:30 am. Does that count? Thanks for the kind words!

  13. You're a bona fide life saver, thanks for sharing this.

    PS – Also used to work at Draftfcb, although I was Melbourne.

  14. You're quite welcome! Always fun to meet a DFCB alum. Also, absolutely anything by King Arthur Flour is delicious. We used the pizza crust mix this weekend to make a focaccia and it was divine.

  15. I just found your site and was wondering how you turned the pizza crust into a focaccia? Thanks so much! I would like to make one this weekend.

  16. Stephanie - nothing fancy! We bought the King Arthur pancake mix and did the pre-baking as directed. We found it quite sticky and thick, and I like a thin-crust pizza, so instead of pizza crust we shaped it into two sort of irregular blobs on pizza sheets. The blobs were approx 1 in - 1.5 in thick. We drizzled the tops with olive oil and coarse seat salt, sliced onions quite thin and spread the onions around on the top. Keep an eye on them in the oven (at the temp suggested on the box) until they are golden brown. So, so so so good.