An approximately 2-inch long by 1-inch wide piece of fresh ginger, cut lengthwise into thin "slabs" (no need to peel)
Growing up, there were only two possible outcomes for Sunday breakfast. Either my mother made pancakes—some with blueberries, for the adults, and some with chocolate chips, for those of us not watching our sugar intake—or she made waffles.
I always felt sort of ho-hum about pancakes. Not that they aren’t delicious, enrobed with butter and syrup and sometimes peanut butter (and none of that all-natural stuff—it was Jif and only Jif), but they tend to lie heavy in the stomach, being easier to consume than to digest.
Waffles, though, were the stuff Saturday night dreams were made of. My mother’s secret for extra crispy waffles was to slather the waffle iron liberally with vegetable shortening (Hey, it was the 90s, folks. The housing bubble had yet to burst, jobs were fairly secure, and hydrogenated oils weren’t the devil yet—shortening was period-appropriate.). They were the sort of waffles that you ate in reverent silence, scraping your plate of every last crispy crumb.
Now, reading the previous two paragraphs might lead you to believe that I’m going to give you a recipe for waffles. I am, rather, going to give you a recipe for pancakes. Not just any pancake, though. A gluten-free pancake that won’t make your stomach feel like a cement mixer. They’re light, flavorful, and fairly healthy.
Pancakes, while lacking the charm and artistry of waffles, are really beautiful things. Namely because you can throw them together out of almost nothing and come up with something tasty. When I worked on the goat farm, I used to get together with some other interns on a neighboring farm, and we had pancakes almost every morning. Sometimes we had milk for the batter, and sometimes we had to use water. Sometimes we used butter, sometimes not. Often, we stirred goat cheese into the batter. Occasionally, we would add things like ginger, sorghum, and cardamom. Usually, these pancakes were made in the early hours, often before the sun rose, by the light of an oil lamp (no joke). And to be honest, some pancakes were better than others, but it’s pretty hard to fail at making pancakes, even in the dark, even before coffee.
John and I are not gluten-free, but we appreciate the complex, hearty flavors of many of the flours now available on the market. White flour alone tends to be cloying and boring, and so experimenting with gluten-free baking is really something of a delight to the palate rather than a chore. And, as I said earlier, pancakes are really, really hard to mess up. If the batter is too stiff, add more milk or water. Too runny, add more flour. They also take on flavors really well. For these pancakes, I used raspberries and lime zest, but you can take that in almost any direction, including savory. Add bits of cooked bacon, cheese, or herbs.
Of course, the traditional way to serve pancakes is with butter and maple syrup, but there are options for this too. Try sorghum syrup, agave, jam, or powdered sugar and lemon juice for sweet pancakes, and sriracha, milk gravy, or red eye gravy for savory pancakes. Use your fingers. Use a fork. Use your sweetheart’s fork. Pancakes are just that simple.
Preheat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting with a serving plate inside. In a medium bowl, whisk together:
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
In a separate bowl, combine:
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 2 limes
Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fold in:
1 cup frozen raspberries
Drop the batter onto the preheated pan with a quarter cup measure. Cook until browned on the first side, 3 to 4 minutes, and then flip, cooking until the second side is brown, about 2 minutes more. As the pancakes cook, place them on the warmed serving plate in the oven. Serve immediately.