Olivia Dish

Wheatless Pancakes

In Homemade on September 30, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Making a gluten-free pancake with the stuff I had around. First ingredient, potatoes.

After years of mocking the gluten-free craze, I learned recently that my sister has full-on celiac disease.

My sister’s doctor thought she had thyroid cancer.  The problem, it turns out, was gluten. Looking at our family history, it’s likely my grandmother and father had celiac disease, too.

My sister, the cake baker, has had to give up wheat.  If she accidentally eats something with gluten, she gets really sick.  In part to see what she’s up against….and in part to see if I could benefit, I’ve been trying to go wheat free for the last several weeks.  I’m now acting like the picky eaters I’ve been mocking, reading labels to suss out the gluten

Though I feel thinner, I don’t believe that gluten makes me sick.

I hope not. Like most people, I like my breads and cakes and beer.

And pancakes.

This morning, I woke up craving pancakes.  I was on the brink of breaking the wheat fast when it occurred to me I might be able to stir up an alternative.


Free range egg from Wilmore Farm

First, I remembered I had a potato in the pantry.  I love potato pancakes and potato rosti.  Then, rather than using a little flour to bind it, I decided I might be able to do that with cornmeal instead.  It turned out to be a delicious little breakfast treat, topped with butter and maple syrup.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, here’s what I did:

I grated one medium-sized Yukon Gold potato.

I beat one egg in a bowl, added the grated potato and stirred together.  Then, I mixed in two tablespoons of yogurt, two tablespoons of yellow cornmeal, one teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt. (If you’re serious about the gluten-free thing, you may need to check your baking powder’s status. Or you can make your own with baking soda and cream of tartar.  Or skip it.)

I melted a little butter in a nonstick pan. Then I dropped a soup spoon of batter in and used the back of the spoon to spread the batter and make the cakes thin.  I cooked them over a low-ish heat,


The batter is thicker than typical pancake batter, more like a heavy cake batter.

turning them when the first side was browned and would loosen itself easily from the pan.

A few things I learned:

  • Small cakes work better than larger ones.  This seems like a good time to make those silver dollar pancakes, for instance.
  • Low heat is better, because it gives the potatoes a chance to cook thoroughly.
  • You may have to adjust the ingredients based on the potato–amount, water content, and such.  Just aim for something a little thicker than pancake batter, but make the consistency more batter than dough, perhaps most like a thick cake batter.

Go a little smaller for better results

Though these are not a duplicate of regular pancakes (they’re heavier, for one) I didn’t miss the wheat at all.  In fact, I loved my wheat-less pancakes–and I am a serious lover of pancakes.  And I didn’t have to buy any special flours or expensive mixes.  Best of all, I used what I had–which meant I could make these in my pajamas rather than get dressed and dash out to the grocery store.


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