Going Gluten-Free: 6 pancake mixes worth trying
Gluten-free pancake mixes abound in Honolulu grocery stores. Here are six worth trying.
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While researching gluten-free flours for a previous column, I came to learn, sadly, that the flours most recommended by professional bakers are scarce on Hawaii store shelves. But happily, what I did find is that gluten-free pancake mixes abound. This deserves some attention.
I decided to navigate the broad landscape by visiting stores that can be easily accessed all around the island. My lineup included Don Quijote, Down to Earth, Walmart, Safeway, Target and Costco. The exception is Williams Sonoma, which offers the one gourmet product I tested.
It would be next to impossible to cover every pancake mix sold, so I tried six of them to offer a mini survey of what’s available. All except the Birch Benders paleo mix required milk (I used almond), butter or oil (I used vegan butter), and eggs.
A word of caution to those who can’t tolerate xantham gum: All but the paleo product include the binder in their mixes.
After taste testing, I came away feeling fat and happy. Fat because six pancakes expand a lot in the tummy. Happy because pancake-wise, gluten-free eaters have lots of high-quality options.
Note: I am aware of the category of alternative flours and mixes made from native plants, such as kalo and ulu. Those deserve a separate column, so stay tuned.
SIX MIXES WORTH A TASTE
Available from local stores and online sources:
>> Arrowhead Mills Organic Pancake & Waffle Mix, Gluten Free (26 ounces, about $8.70): This mix is all about healthfulness. Each ingredient is organic, and it does not include sugar. This is great for those who would rather control their sugar intake with the amount of syrup they use.
But it also makes for a rather dry cake, since sugar contributes to moistness. The cake does form a nice crust, though.
>> Birch Benders Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix (42 ounces, about $11): I found this mix at Costco, so if it’s sold elsewhere, don’t expect the same large bag or the same price point.
High in protein and low in carbs, the paleo diet doesn’t allow for the ingredients of most pancake mixes. So this one comprises cassava starch, organic coconut flour, almond flour, egg and monk fruit.
It’s definitely the easiest of the bunch to make — just add water — and requires a lower heat and shorter cooking time than other batters. The result is much different than any other cake, with a full-bodied flavor that’s earthy and sweet, with savory notes. It’s unconventional and worthy of a try.
>> Bisquick Gluten-Free Pancake & Baking Mix (16 ounces, about $6): You can clearly taste the rice flour in this mix, which may seem like a bad thing, but it’s hearty and delicious. Pancakes turn out fluffy — my 2-tablespoon cakes expanded to a 3/4-inch height in the pan, with a springy texture.
These cakes do not bubble while cooking, normally an indicator of when to flip them. Look instead for a golden brown color.
>> Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix (22 ounces, about $6): This one starts with a fluffy batter that when cooked delivers a nicely textured, fluffy cake with a good chew and ono flavor. It also browns well. A solid option.
>> King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Pancake Mix (15 ounces, about $6): This was hands-down my favorite mix. There must be some magic in the combination of whole-grain brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch, because these cakes have a tender texture inside and a nice crisp outside. They brown beautifully and have a creaminess that makes for a rounded flavor.
It’s a wonderful mix, especially for the price.
>> Williams Sonoma Flappin’ Jack Gluten-Free Pancake Mix (19.6 ounces, $19.95): Easily the sweetest of the bunch, and the most expensive, this two-packet can produces a thin batter that browns beautifully and delivers a cake with a delicate crumb.
“Going Gluten-Free” helps meet the cooking and dining challenges faced by those on wheat-free diets. It runs on the first Wednesday of each month. Send questions to Joleen Oshiro, email@example.com.