This post is a marvelous lesson in “never say never.” When I changed our diet, a little over a year ago, I said something really silly: “…I’m not the type of person to be happy with a fake, low carb (or low fat) version of something. If I’m going to eat a pancake, I want a REAL damn pancake…not some pale imitation…”
Yeah. Famous last words.
Of course, this was before I realized that a lot of my problems stemmed from the consumption of gluten and casein. The World’s Best Pancakes are just chock-full of both, sadly, which has booted them right out of the “can be enjoyed as a special treat once in a blue moon” category. Beloved, who does nothing half-assed, says he doesn’t miss grain-based foods at all (I think his exact words were “I don’t miss them and I don’t want them!”) so until recently the rare cravings I have for something even faux have gone unfulfilled. However, with him out of town for so long this summer, when the idea that “Hey – pancakes and bacon sounds really good for dinner” hit me, I went right ahead and made those very things.
Almond and coconut flours are saviors for many people who no longer consume wheat flour, either out of necessity or by choice, and I have both in my kitchen. However, coconut flour is hard to work with; it has a LOT of fiber and absorbs a lot more liquid than wheat flour. It also (naturally) lacks gluten, so most baked goods made with it require a lot of eggs to give it some of the texture and elasticity of wheat flour. This causes foods made with coconut flour to have a very “eggy” flavor. And, of course, it tastes like coconut.
Almond flour has its own set of challenges, but I find it a great deal easier to work with. Most nut flours are rather coarse – because of their fairly high fat content, if you over-process them you end up with nut butter – which makes them hard to coax into a product that resembles a yeast-raised bread (it can be done with coconut flour, but like I said – eggy), but it is fine for quick breads such as muffins or, in this case, pancakes. Of course, you’ll never be able to get quite the light and fluffy texture that comes with conventional pancakes, but you can make a reasonable substitute. Pulsing the almond flour in the food processor, giving it a finer and fluffier consistency, helps, as does beating the egg whites.
As written, this recipe will make 5 large-ish pancakes and one is plenty per serving – these are quite filling. You can, of course, make them smaller and have more pancakes per serving, if you wish.
Note: A lot of people who bake frequently with almond flour dislike the Bob’s Red Mill brand, although I’m not quite sure why. It is, however, the easiest to find – most grocery stores carry it, and it’s what I use.
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lard or other cooking fat
Place the almond flour in the bowl of a food processor; pulse it several times until the flour is fine and fluffy.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff but not dry.
In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla and maple syrup. Stir in the almond flour, salt and baking soda and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the water until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter (add a little more, a tablespoon at a time, if needed). Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water dances and sizzles on the surface before evaporating (if the water evaporates immediately, the pan is too hot; if it boils for a bit before disappearing, the pan is not hot enough). Add about half of the lard or cooking fat to the pan; spread it over the surface with a spatula to coat. Pour a scant ¼ cup of the batter onto the pan for each pancake and cook until the edges look dry and bubbles appear on the surface; carefully flip and cook for another minute, or until both sides are browned and the pancakes are cooked through.
Remove the pancakes to a warmed plate and cover. Add more fat to the pan, if necessary, and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with fresh fruit or warm maple syrup.