A little while ago, my husband thought he was gluten intolerant. Accordingly, our little household was launched into gluten freedom for about 3 months (after which he realized he was NOT gluten intolerant). It was an interesting time and although I was quite resentful about it at first (many traditional Korean ingredients are fermented with wheat flour), it afforded me the opportunity to learn a thing or two about gluten free cooking. Moreover, it introduced me to a panoply of gluten free ingredients, including gluten free soy sauces and gochujang! Thus, even though we are no longer a gluten free household, I’m very appreciative of what I learned during those months, so that I can easily accommodate gluten-intolerant guests and friends. Which is why I love these gluten free blueberry pancakes.
Like all good pancakes, these start out with buttermilk. Buttermilk is literally just milk + acid. I used soy milk and lemon juice and stirred it into a lovey curdle for my vegan buttermilk. What does buttermilk do? It ensures that your “cake” remains soft and tender.
Gluten Free Flour Mix
Within short order of my husband going gluten free, I came up with my “go-to” gluten free flour mix. I’ve used it for pancakes, muffins, and cakes, and it stands up really well. Not only that, it doesn’t have a funky aftertaste or smell. It’s pretty simple:
- 1 part blanched almond flour
- 1 part sweet white rice flour
- 1/2 part potato starch
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
Blanched Almond Flour
Yes, it needs to be blanched. Otherwise, it will be too course to really work as a flour. The finer the flour, the better. The bulkier the flour, the harder it will be to get it to bind like a flour and allow the batter to rise. The almond flour also provides a great deal of moisture, which you’re going to need in order to counteract the drying effect of the sweet white rice flour.
Sweet White Rice Flour
No, you cannot use rice flour or brown rice flour. You need to use sweet white (or sometimes referred to as “glutinous white”) rice flour. Why? Because it will otherwise lack the “glutinous” effect. While this flour doesn’t have gluten in it, when exposed to heat and pressure, it starts to act like it does.
Potato starch is like the glue that holds this all together. When mixed with water, it turns into a paste that gets extremely sticky when hot. It help to bind everything together, kind of like an egg.
Why cornmeal? Mostly because I like the flavor. But, it also helps to suck up some of the moisture and provides a nutty and lovey crumb. Here, as the name suggests, I decided to use this delightful blue cornmeal provided to me by my friends at Pinole Blue.
Blueberries – Frozen or Fresh?
Ok, I use frozen blueberries for all my baking/cooking now. I’ve found that fresh blueberries are simply to unreliable in Chicago. Sometimes, they’re plump and sweet and beautiful. Other times, they are the size of peas and taste like pebbles. I don’t want pebbles in my pancakes. On the other hand, the generic brand of frozen blueberries I purchase are always humongous and taste like candy. If you are lucky enough to live in the valley of a mountain with crystalline spring water running across your yard lush with thick blueberry bushes, then go for it and use fresh berries. Otherwise, my recommendation is to use frozen.
Frying the Cakes
Now, the batter will be thick. Like, you’ll think it’s way too thick. But trust me on this–this is how you get the fluffy flapjacks that live up to their namesake: pan-cakes. Using a large spoon, add some to your non-stick pan (don’t even think about using a regular old pan) over medium heat and spread it out until it’s about the size of your palm. Let it cook for about 2 minutes and you’ll notice that it does, indeed, rise! Flip it and cook for another 2 minutes, to ensure the insides are fully cooked.
The best part about these pancakes is the crispy little crust that forms, as a result of the potato starch. I made these for my videographer the other day and he LOVED the crispiness on the outside and the soft tender crumb on the inside. And so will you!!
Quick Tips for Making GF Blueberry Blue Pancakes
- Use vegan buttermilk instead of just plain old milk to facilitate soft and tender pancakes.
- Do not try and substitute regular rice flour for the sweet white rice flour.
- Use cornmeal for added texture and flavor (and color!).
- Use frozen blueberries instead of fresh ones for optimal sweetness.
Gluten Free Blueberry Blue Pancakes
- Non-stick pan
- Add lemon juice to the plant milk and stir. This is your vegan buttermilk.
- In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, sweet white rice flour, potato starch, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal.
- Add the vegan buttermilk. The batter will be quite thick.
- Add the blueberries and stir gently, so that they don't break.
- Add oil to a non-stick pan over medium heat and spoon the batter onto the pan (about the size of your palm). Cook on both sides for about 2 minutes. They will be slightly crispy on the outside (thanks potato starch!) and soft and tender on the inside.
- Serve with maple syrup and fresh berries.