It’s been quite a journey. It’s hard to believe it’s already been seven years since my son Isaiah, now 17, was first diagnosed with gluten intolerance and dairy intolerance. I remember his words when the doctor gave him the news as if it were yesterday. “Mommy, what am I going to eat?” Honestly, those words still echo in my mind. The fear we both shared in not knowing what was going to happen next.
Category: Gluten-Free Basics
Before I ever even came close to conquering yeasted cinnamon buns, I made these pancakes to satisfy that craving. They actually resemble cinnamon buns, too, down to their cinnamon swirl and sugary icing. My family and I have always been fans of Bisquick, but after trying the gluten-free version from the supermarket, we weren’t convinced that it was a perfect substitute. So I studied the ingredients on the original mix and replicated its taste and texture.
I’m opening the ultimate gluten-free, dairy-free flour blend company called Cooking for Isaiah™ (named after my gorgeous son who started us all on this delicious adventure)—and I need your help!
Vote for your favorite packaging—and you’ll be entered to win a $10 COUPON on your 1st purchase!
A or B? CLICK TO VOTE and THANK YOU!!
Out of all the recipe requests I receive every day—both from my kids and all of you—pancakes always make it to #1 on the Most Wanted Recipe List. Here are some pancake recipes I’ve developed around the web to get you started…
Countdown to 2014 Cookbook Giveaway, Day 7: Now, I’d like to introduce Ali Segersten and her book, Healthy Holiday Grain-Free Treats and Raw Desserts!
The kids start holiday break this Friday, which gives me exactly five days to do all of my baking for the festivities (and of course, Santa). The past few months have been a whirlwind, both personally and professionally, so this year I’ve rounded up my favorite cookie recipes for easy one-stop baking.
I wish you and your family a wonderful, cookie-filled holiday! Please come say “hi” over in my online community, Silvana’s Kitchen. I’d love to hear how you’re doing. Thank you, as always, for reading and sharing!
For ingredient substitutions, please see the detailed chart at Gluten-Free 101.
Let’s get baking,
I needed some comfort this week. Something I can always count on a chocolate chip cookie for. Thinking back when Isaiah was first diagnosed with gluten and dairy intolerances almost six years ago now, I remember wondering if he’d ever bite into another cookie again. As dramatic as it may seem, I couldn’t live with that thought.
You know what it’s like to not be able to have bread or pizza or focaccia. My family does, too. For the past five years, I’ve been trying off-and-on to replicate the chew, the bounce and the bend that occurs naturally in a gluten-full bread. I’ve made batches and batches of doughs—all failures. But, those failures have led me to the biggest bread success I’ve ever had. And I’m happy to share it with you.
Gluten-free or not, baking is a science and ingredients are part of the formula. Pick the right ingredients for the job, and you can let them do all the work for you. Through trial and error, you’ll learn that some ingredients perform better than others.
To succeed in baking, there are five tips you need to arm yourself with:
1. You will gain kitchen confidence through constant practice and meditation over the baking process and outcome.
2. Like any other relationship, you want to get to know your ingredients by spending time with them.
3. Use as little gluten-free flour in a recipe as possible.
4. If you replace any ingredient in a recipe (for dietary or medical reasons, or personal preference), there will be a noticeable difference in taste, texture and appearance.
5. Be light-handed. You need to be almost weightless in your handling of the dough or batter. Heavy-handedness results in dense baked goods.
For more gluten-free, dairy-free baking tips, see Gluten-Free 101.
How to Build Your Gluten-Free Pie Pantry
1. Find a Flour Replacement: I use Silvana’s Kitchen Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour. Other blends contain added ingredients or quantity of the same ingredients. Of course, you can use your favorite homemade or store-bought blend, too, with slightly different results.
2. Try a Naturally Gluten-Free Flour Replacement: You can swap in some blanched almonds and hazelnuts, cornmeal or cocoa powder for some of the gluten-free flour blend. For more substitutions, see Gluten-Free 101.
3. Choose a Liquid for Browning: I use dairy-free store-bought or homemade almond milk or rice milk for a neutral flavor. You could use other dairy-free milks. For more substitutions, see Gluten-Free 101.
4. Use Fat for Texture & Browning: Depending on the baked good and what I need it for, I either use dairy-free, non-hydrogenated all-vegetable shortening; buttery sticks or whipped buttery spread. For more substitutions, see Gluten-Free 101.
How to Measure Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
When I owned a gluten-full bakery, I used to weigh out everything. Yes, weight over volume is 100% more precise. But when I’m baking at home, I only break out my kitchen scale when I’m mixing up a big batch of flour blend or pancake mix. Here’s how I successfully measure flour by volume:
1. Start with a container filled with a gluten-free flour blend.
2. Fluff the flour: I just shake the container (with a sealed lid, of course). You could also use a whisk.
3. Take a measuring cup, and lightly scoop the flour—without packing—and making sure to add more than necessary. (Here’s the first place where light-handedness comes in.) If you’re nervous about this step, just spoon the flour into a measuring cup instead.
4. Level off extra flour using a butter knife.
How to Make Flaky Gluten-Free Pie Dough
There are different ways to make pie dough. I’ve used a food processor, stand mixer, a pastry cutter and my hands. This really depends on the dough. My go-to method remains my hands. Here’s the second place light-handedness comes in:
1. Put the flour blend in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the other dry ingredients (this will depend on the recipe).
2. Add the solid fat (see above), which has been frozen and cut into small pieces.
3. Using your fingers, quickly rub-and-roll the fat into the flour, forming coarse crumbs. This step needs to happen fast so your fingers don’t start melting the fat, which would result in less flakiness.
4. Add the liquid (see above), and use a wooden spoon to beat until roughly combined. (It doesn’t have to be perfect.)
5. Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap or press-n-seal (what I use). Wrap and press into a round disk.
6. Refrigerate the dough until slightly firm, about 20 minutes, or freeze for about 10 minutes before rolling out.
How to Roll Out Gluten-Free Pie Dough
The really great news about gluten-free pie dough is that since there’s no gluten, there is no reason to worry about overworking the dough. As with all pastry dough, what you don’t want to do is add too much extra flour into the recipe. This will result in a dough that may break or tear. Here’s my solution:
1. After chilling the dough, lay out a piece of parchment paper, then dust lightly with gluten-free flour blend. I literally throw the flour across the surface area as if I were skipping stones at the seashore.
2. Using a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll out the dough evenly into a 12-inch circle starting from the center and rotating as you go. If the dough is too cold to budge in any direction, just give it a few more minutes to get closer to room temperature. If the dough starts to stick to the parchment, use a long knife or offset spatula to release it and throw more flour underneath.
3. To transfer the dough onto a pie plate, gently place an upside-down pie plate on top of the rolled out dough. Slide your hand under the parchment paper and flip the dough—still on parchment—into the pie plate. Gently peel off the parchment paper.
4. Position the dough in the center of the pie plate and gently lift the dough so that it lines the bottom and sides.
5. Cut the excess dough with scissors to leave a ½-inch overhang. Using your fingers, roll the dough edge under and crimp with your fingers or decorate with the tines a fork. Prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork; refrigerate for 15 minutes.
6. If you’re using a top crust, place it on the pie filling. Cut the excess dough and tuck it under the bottom dough edge. Crimp the top dough edge with your fingers or decorate with the tines a fork.
How to Bake a Gluten-Free Pie Crust
1. Prevent the edges from overbrowning by loosely covering them with aluminum foil. You can make an adjustable foil ring: Take a 10-inch (25-cm)-square piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and fold in four, then cut out a quarter circle, leaving about a 2-inch (5-cm) perimeter.
2. Bake each pie crust separately when making more than one for the most even browning. If you’re short on time, stagger both pie crusts on the same oven rack. Halfway through baking, switch positions and rotate each pie crust a half turn.
MY CLASSIC GLUTEN-FREE PIE CRUST RECIPE
The pie crust dough and baked, cooled pie crusts will keep, covered, for up to 2 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. Here I use the food processor method.
Makes: 1 crust for a 9-inch pie (double the ingredients for a double crust)
1¼ cups Silvana’s Kitchen All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) shortening, whipped buttery spread or buttery sticks, chilled and cut into small pieces
¼ cup ice water
1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt. Add the chilled shortening or buttery sticks pieces and pulse until coarse crumbs form, about 5 seconds. Drizzle in the ice water and pulse just until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap; flatten to form a disk. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle; transfer to a pie pan. Cut the excess dough to leave a ½-inch overhang. Using your fingers, roll the dough edge under and crimp. Prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork; refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 400º. Line the shell with foil and pie weights or dried beans; bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, reduce the heat to 375º and bake for another 12 minutes.
TIP: When you’re rolling out dough, store a baking sheet in the freezer. If the dough gets too soft to handle, place the frozen baking sheet on top to firm the dough again.
TIP: Scatter chocolate chips over the bottom of the crust to make a sealed layer, which will prevent the crust from getting soggy.
How to Make a Gluten-Free Cookie Crust
This is the ultimate no-fuss crust. You can make your own gluten-free cookies (see my book, Cooking for Isaiah, for recipes) or save time with your favorite store-bought cookies. This crust can be made 1 day ahead and kept covered at room temperature. You can pick a cookie flavor that matches nicely with your filling. Here are just a handful of fun flavor combinations:
COOKIE CRUST / FILLING
1. Gluten-Free Vanilla Graham Cookies / Cheesecake Filling
2. Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookies / Pecan Pie Filling or Peanut Butter Filling
3. Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies / Lemon Custard Filling
4. Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies / Chocolate Pudding Filling
5. Gluten-Free Snickerdoodle Cookies / Banana Cream Filling
6. Gluten-Free Gingersnap Cookies / Pumpkin Filling
MY CLASSIC GLUTEN-FREE COOKIE CRUST RECIPE
Makes: One 9-inch pie
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and shortening until combined. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan; freeze until set, about 15 minutes. In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork and lightly brush on the pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes; let cool.
TIP: Use a measuring cup—or your hands—to evenly press the cookie crumb crust.
TIP: Brush the cookie crust with lightly beaten egg white to prevent it from getting soggy under the filling.
How to Make a Grain-Free Nut Crust
If you’re looking for a gluten-free and grain-free crust, this is the best option. Nuts add flavor, texture and healthy fat. This crust can be made 1 day ahead and kept covered at room temperature.
MY CLASSIC GRAIN-FREE NUT CRUST RECIPE
The granulated sugar in the recipe helps to grind the nuts to a powdery texture. You can use blanched nuts or nuts with the skins still on. The main difference will be the color of the crust.
Makes: One 9-inch pie
6 ounces (about 1½ cups) chopped nuts, such as walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts (or a combination)
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening, whipped buttery spread or unflavored coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse together the nuts, sugar and salt until finely ground. Add the melted shortening and pulse until just combined; freeze until set, about 15 minutes. Bake until golden around the edges, about 10 minutes; let cool.
TIP: Stir your favorite spices, shredded coconut or chopped chocolate into a nut crust for added flavor.
Print Yum Silvana’s Kitchen Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Prep Time: 15 minutes Yield: About 4 pounds This recipe is reprinted with permission from Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone (Reader’s Digest, 2010)Ingredients6 cups (870 grams) white rice flour 3 cups (375 grams) tapioca flour 1½ cups […]
The most requested weekend breakfast item in my house in the past few weeks has undoubtedly been waffles. After months of not pulling out the waffle irons (I have a standard and a Belgian), I craved the crunchy edges only a waffle can deliver. Turns out the kids craved it, too! This recipe is a family favorite. I remember when I was photographing the waffles, I had to hold back the family from grabbing them. I don’t blame them. You definitely want to eat these hot out of the waffle iron when the cheese is still warm and gooey. You may even want to have enough ingredients on hand for a double batch. These savory waffles make for great sandwich bread, too, especially if you cook them in a standard waffle iron.
So where did the idea of putting the flavors of jalapeño poppers in my waffles come from? That’s easy. I’ve had an addiction ever since I bit into my first jalapeño popper at college-town diner in New Paltz. To get that crunchy coating, I just sprinkle the batter with rice cereal crumbs before closing the waffle iron. In just minutes, I get the subtle spice from the jalapeños and melty pockets of cheese.
Yield: 6 Belgian waffles
Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes Makes: 6 Belgian waffles
1 1/3 cups Gluten-Free Pancake, Waffle & Biscuit Mix
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk or dairy-free milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ounces cream cheese or dairy-free cream cheese, cut or torn into small pieces
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or dairy-free cheddar-style cheese, plus more for sprinkling
3 medium jalapeños, seeded and chopped
1 cup gluten-free rice cereal, finely crushed, for sprinkling
- Generously grease a Belgian waffle iron with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together the pancake mix, salt, milk, oil, egg and cream cheese. Fold in ½ cup of the cheddar cheese and the jalapeño; stir until blended.
- Preheat a Belgian waffle iron to medium-high heat. Pour a heaping 1/3 cup batter into each waffle iron square. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheddar cheese and 1 tablespoon cereal crumbs and cook until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, cheese and cereal crumbs.
These gluten-free, dairy-free optional waffles will have your whole family licking its fingers. read more…
This year, my sweet angel Chiara turned five. She’s growing so fast into a lovely, funny, smart girl. I fall in love with her more and more each day. She’s filled with surprises and had one for me when she put in her formal birthday cake request. As she says, I’m “the cooker” in the family and each year, I ask the kids what cake and frosting they want for their birthdays. Her response was clearly composed:
“Chiara official birthday cake request: a vanilla cake with pink marshmallow frosting and hearts, butterflies and flowers.”
You may have read that Chiara was just diagnosed this June with gluten and dairy intolerances, just like her big brother, Isaiah. So I wanted to make this year’s cake extra special. I wanted a real cake showstopper—and that’s exactly what we had. As party guests walked into our house decorated with pink polka dot streamers and happy face balloons, the cake was the first thing they saw. Everyone’s eyes were open wide with excitement and a smiling Chiara said, “You should work at a bakery. You’re such a good cooker!”
“I guess that in the days of store-bought cakes, a homemade cake has become a rarity—especially a heart-shaped one!”
Eventually, I had to put the cake out of sight. Then, after Chiara made her birthday wish, chaos broke out with all the kids asking for a flower or a butterfly. Luckily, I had one for each of her friends.
“Here’s hoping Chiara’s birthday wish comes true—and for all of your kids, too!”
Serving Size: 2-layer cake
Gluten-free nonstick cooking spray
2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rice milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
1/2 cup store-bought marshmallow creme
Food coloring (optional)
Strawberry jam, beaten with a spoon
Sprinkles, for topping
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350º. Generously grease a 9-inch heart-shaped springform pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour mix, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk until smooth. Add to the flour mixture and whisk until combined. Fill the prepared baking pan until about two-thirds full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a small saucepan, bring sugar, rice syrup, salt and water to 235º on a candy thermometer or until it forms a thick syrup. Remove from the heat.
- 4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating on high speed and add the syrup in a slow, steady stream; beat for two minutes. Add the marshmallow creme and beat until thick and shiny, about 7 minutes. Beat in food coloring, if using.
- 5. To assemble a two-layer cake, peel off the paper from the cake and divide into two layers. Place 1 layer right side up on a cake platter and spread with jam, then about 3/4 cup frosting. Place the second cake layer upside down on top of the filling. Spread the sides and top of the cake evenly with the remaining frosting. (If you're making a four-layer cake, repeat the process with the additional 2 cake layers and frosting.) Top the cake with sprinkles and decorate. To serve, slice gently with a serrated bread knife.
I made a 4-layer cake. To do this, I just made the cake recipe twice (since I only had 1 heart-shaped springform pan; I used this one.) and doubled the frosting.
These baguettes are the answer to your gluten-free bread dreams—crusty and full of flavor. read more…
The first time I met Pepe was about three years ago at his restaurant, Mare Sole, perched on a dock in the little coastal town of Santa Marinella, just outside of Rome. He was wearing a biker’s bandana and I knew my meal was going to be really good. That night he served us a gnocchi made only with flour and no potato. His sauce was filled with local seafood like shrimp, clams, mussels and squid tossed in extra-virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and plenty of parsley.
“You can judge a man by his gnocchi alone. Pepe’s gnocchi were no exception. His were a mirror to his soul—light, airy and ever welcoming.”
My friends and I are playing with ratios again as part of the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally. What’s the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally? We’re a group of food bloggers and cookbook authors committed to baking with ratios. So when I heard that this month’s assignment was choux pastry, I thought of Pepe and his pasta. Thanks Erin, aka The Sensitive Epicure, for being our host! Please check Erin’s site or below for the complete list of bloggers with links to their choux pastry recipes.
So what is choux pastry, anyway? Here’s a proper definition, if you want one. Everything I know I learned through my personal baking and eating experiences: It’s an egg-based pastry dough that is cooked on the stovetop. It can be made sweet or savory. Like me, you’re probably most familiar with it in the form of a cream puff, profiterole, eclair or gougere. It also makes great pasta dough.
“As an Italian-American raised half the time in Rome, I wondered if I’d ever make homemade pasta again. Would my father look at me differently? This recipe’s for you, Dad—buon appetito!”
The best part of my recipe is that it’s super flexible: You can make the pasta plain by leaving out the spinach, parmesan, nutmeg and mustard. Add in other flavors that you like instead like cracked black pepper, gorgonzola or a mix of fresh herbs. For the sauce, you could go summery and dairy-free with a fresh sauce of thinly-sliced zucchini, lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, basil, mint and olive oil. Or, just toss halved cherry tomatoes in a hot pan with olive oil and top with fresh-torn basil before serving.
Want the pasta dairy-free? Just substitute olive oil for the butter and leave out the parmesan. That’s it. Simple.
Me and my ratio: After playing around in the kitchen with various ratios, this one made me (and my family) the happiest. Feel free to have fun with the ratios. It will depend ever so slightly on the ratio of grains and starches in your gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Also, just in case, I’ve included cup and spoon measurements if that’s what you’re more comfortable with.
2 PARTS LIQUID: (225 g) 1 cup water
2 PARTS FLOUR: (225 g) 1 1/3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
2 PARTS EGGS: (225 g) 4 large eggs
1 PART FAT: (112 g) ½ cup unsalted butter
Amanda of Gluten-Free Maui made Earl Grey Cream Puffs
Amie of The Healthy Apple made Pâte à Choux with Creamy Macadamia Icing
Britt of GF in the City made Cream Puffs & Profiteroles
Caleigh of Gluten Free(k) made Savoury Paris-Brest
Caneel of Mama Me Gluten Free made Key Lime Cream Puffs
Charissa of Zest Bakery made Choux Shine: Koshi-an Filled Cream Puffs
Claire of Gluten Freedom made Chocolate Eclairs
Erin of The Sensitive Epicure made Gougères Filled with Herbed Goat Cheese & Churros
Gretchen of Kumquat made Cheddar Gougères with Date & Pine Nuts
Irvin of Eat the Love made White Cheddar Fennel Gougères stuffed withPorcini & Shallot Goat Cheese
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine made Gruyere & Herbed Gougères
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen made Cracked Pepper & Cheese Gougères
Lisa of With Style and Grace made Cherry Garcia Filled Cream Puffs
Mary Fran of Frannycakes made Marillenknodel with Ginger & Cardamom Sugar Chai Cream Puffs
Meaghan of The Wicked Good Vegan made Vegan GF Cardamom & Rose Water Cream Puffs
Meg of GF Boulangerie made Chouquettes
Meredith of Gluten Free Betty made Gluten Free Churros
Pete & Kelli of No Gluten, No Problem made Almond Choux Florentines
Rachel of The Crispy Cook made Cream Puffs with Coffee Cream
Robyn of Chocswirl made Gruyere & Parmesan Gougères with Sage & Thyme
Sea: Book of Yum made Rose Vanilla Cream Puffs & Eclairs
Silvana of Silvana’s Kitchen made GF Spinach Gnocchi Parm
T.R.of No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Beignets
1¼ cups water, milk or broth
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
¼ cup finely chopped steamed spinach
1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 cups tomato puree
Handful of basil, torn
- In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup water, butter, salt and nutmeg, and heat over low heat; bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Sprinkle over the flour and using a wooden spoon, beat together until smooth. Return the pan to medium heat and cook for 1 minute, beating constantly, to cook off the flour and dry out the dough.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and using a handheld or standing electric mixer, beat on medium-low speed to cool slightly; add the mustard, spinach and ¼ cup parmesan. Then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, until combined and smooth.
- Place the dough in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cut off a ½-inch-long tip at the corner of the resealable bag. Squeeze out 1-inch-long pieces of dough, cutting with a scissor and letting the dough pieces drop right into the simmering water. Cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface; simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a dishtowel–lined baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella and the remaining ¼ cup water, ½ cup parmesan and 1 egg.
- Preheat the oven to 400º. Spread about 1 cup tomato puree in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with about half of the gnocchi, half of the ricotta mixture and some basil. Repeat the layering with the remaining gnocchi, tomato puree, ricotta mixture and basil. Top with the remaining ¼ cup parmesan. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and golden, about 30 minutes.
It’s such a loaded word in my house and in my family’s lives, and it has so many definitions: Comfort, Happiness, What I Used to Eat, What I Can’t Eat Anymore…
When Isaiah was first diagnosed with gluten intolerance, this is the first food he lost that really mattered. And it was one of the first foods I tried to replicate. I had successfully made other types of bread-like doughs: rolls, waffle bread, pizza, baguettes. But never a loaf of sandwich bread, which is what Isaiah wanted—and needed—for school lunch. After many failures, I had given up…until now.
My friend Shauna James Ahern recently invited me to join The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, a group of food bloggers and cookbook authors committed to baking with ratios. (See below for the complete list of bakers and their pancake recipes.)
I hadn’t played with ratios since I owned Fanciulla, my gluten-full Italian bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Of course, it didn’t start off that way.
I thought using ratios was only for professionals. I’m not a trained baker (or chef).
Take the recipe for my best-selling pine nut-almond biscotti. First, it was a recipe written in cups and teaspoons. But as I needed to increase the recipe yield for the bakery, the ingredient quantities had to increase and working with ratios was the easiest, most accurate way I knew how. Here’s what I learned: Once you start working in ratios, you start to see patterns. I noticed this immediately.
That was the beginning of my baking revolution.
To turn my pine nut-almond biscotti into chocolate-espresso biscotti, I didn’t need to adjust the ratio: the relationship between the ingredients (dry, wet, fat). I just had to tweak the flavor profile. So, I swapped some cocoa powder and ground espresso for the flour and threw in some chocolate chips. Easy.
I could really use one of those biscotti right now.
The first ratio The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally will be exploring is for pancakes. If you have my cookbook, you know we like our pancakes, every which way: banana pancakes, s’mores pancakes, gingerbread pancakes, blueberry sourdough pancakes, griddled corn cakes with strawberry syrup…
Then, the idea of cinnamon swirl pancakes came to me. Chiara puts cinnamon on everything so the sweet smell of cinnamon is always in the air. It’s also deeply ingrained in my memory from my teenage days when my older brother Bernardo worked at our local mall’s Cinnabon. Try to get that out of your sensory memory -impossible!
These pancakes are no less than addicting.
They’re light and fluffy, but the best part is definitely the crunchy, sticky cinnamon swirl branded into the pancake -just perfect for holding drizzles of maple icing.
Me and my ratio:
After playing around in the kitchen with various ratios for pancakes, this one made me (and my family) the happiest. That said, only you know how thick or thin you like your pancakes, so feel free to have fun with the ratios. It will depend ever so slightly on the ratio of grains and starches in your pancake mix. Also, just in case, I’ve included cup and spoon measurements if that’s what you’re more comfortable cooking with.
5.5 parts gluten-free pancake mix
5 parts liquid
2.5 parts eggs
1 part fat
A few words on pancake mix:
When it comes to choosing the pancake mix for this recipe, use what you love and have on hand. In our house, we use the mix from my book (page 14), a combination of white rice flour (you could substitute in brown rice flour), tapioca flour, potato starch, sugar, baking powder, salt and xanthum gum. Of course, you can always use your own blend of grains and startches, too, or even your favorite store-bought gluten-free pancake mix.
Here’s how the cinnamon sugar swirl looks on the pancake batter.
When you flip the pancake, the sugars in the cinnamon swirl will bubble and caramelize. This is good and exactly what you want. Watching the filling seemingly ooze out, you’ll wonder what’s happening.
Don’t worry, when you flip over the pancake again and transfer it to a plate, it’ll look -and taste -amazing. See?
Check out more bloggers and their delicious pancakes from The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally:
Serving Size: 3-inch pancakes
For the cinnamon swirl filling:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
For the pancakes:
1½ cups plus 2 teaspoons gluten-free pancake mix
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons cow?s milk or non-dairy milk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup canola oil or melted butter, plus more for greasing
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the maple icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
- Make the cinnamon swirl filling: Place the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large resealable plastic bag and seal. Using your hands, massage until combined and smooth. Snip off the corner about 1/8-inch wide.
- Add the pancake mix to a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, oil and vanilla; add to the pancake mix mixture and stir until just combined.
- Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Using a paper towel, lightly grease with oil. Pour the batter about ¼ cup at a time onto the pan, swirl over the cinnamon sugar filling in a circular pattern and cook until golden and set, about 2 minutes on each side. Between batches, clean your skillet by running it under hot water, dry, then lightly grease.
- Meanwhile, make the maple icing: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and water until pourable. Drizzle over the pancakes.
If you prefer, you can always make the pancakes plain by just following the ratio or you could add in all the cinnamony-goodness.