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:
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.