I lost my pancake mojo a little while ago. I used to be able to pour a bunch of stuff in a bowl and whip up lovely gluten-free, vegan pancakes without measuring a thing. Pancakes are a forgiving food to make, and I was good at providing offenses for the pancake gods to forgive. We had a lovely relationship.
In a hurry one day, I threw together some pancake mix. I was running low on a bunch of my gluten-free flours, so I just threw twelve cups of whatever I had left in there, counting on the forgiveness of the pancake gods to make it all work. (Yes, I make 12 cup’s worth of pancake mix at a time. It’s more efficient that way, and it’s the maximum my container will hold.) I don’t even know what flours I used; all I know is when I went to fry up the first batch of pancakes, they just wouldn’t cook in the middle. The outsides were scorched, and the middles felt raw. The texture was so soft, I couldn’t get my spatula under them to flip them. They just sort of wrinkled sadly instead. I tried microwaving them, just to make sure they were cooked through, and the texture remained the same.
Since the pancakes were egg-free, I served them knowing that even underdone, they would be safe to eat, but they were not exactly a hit. What? You don’t want wrinkled pancakes that are gooey in the middle? They’re fine. It’s your imagination. Here, have some more maple syrup.
My first thought was to blame the squash. My garden was in the midst of over-producing lovely yellow squash, and that squash had to go someplace, right? If I grate it finely enough and put enough maple syrup on top, the kid never knows he’s eating a veggie. The (free) squash stretches the (expensive) gluten-free flours, and, well, this particular offense had been forgiven in the past, so there was squash in the pancakes.
The next batch of pancakes was squash-free.
Same gooey texture.
Now I’m thinking that it must be the flour mix. Eying the more than nine remaining cups of mix remaining in my container, I knew I couldn’t waste the food. Besides, now I was nearly out of flour and the co-op order with more flour wouldn’t come for another 3 weeks. I made a single (1-cup) batch of pancake mix with a high-protein flour, mixed it into the nine cups of pancake mix, and assumed that would improve things.
No, not even a little bit. The pancakes had the same off-putting texture. I diluted the mix again. This time I made a special trip to the store and bought tapioca starch. Surely that special offering would appease the pancake gods? Nope.
By this time, the kid is telling me that he no longer likes pancakes at all, even with maple syrup, and I’m looking at the never-ending container of pancake mix wondering why the pancake gods have abandoned me.
Have you ever eaten potato cakes? The kind made with leftover mashed potatoes and lots of eggs? It turns out that if you should add potato flour to your pancake mix, it gives your pancakes the texture of mashed potatoes on the inside. This is unforgivable, apparently. For my penance, I had to eat gooey gluten-free, vegan pancakes for a month until the mix was gone. Only after all of the potato flour had been consumed were the pancake gods pleased to restore my mojo.
So just don’t put potato flour in your allergen-free pancake mix, ok? Don’t even think about it. And, for the love of all that is good and right, do not confuse potato flour with potato starch, thinking that they can’t possibly be that different. The pancake gods will not be amused.