Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hiding pureed peaches in pancakes.

Yesterday and this morning I made pancakes using Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Pancake Mix, Turtle Mountain Vanilla Coconut Milk, olive oil, and Enjoy Life's dairy-free chocolate chips.  I added a secret ingredient that, thankfully, went unnoticed by my five year old: peaches.  We keep frozen sliced peaches in the freezer just for making pancakes.  I put a few slices in a bowl with hot water for a few minutes to thaw them, then drain the water and add the peaches to the blender with the coconut milk and blend on the "liquefy" setting.  Sometimes I add some sugar or sugar syrup to the mix before I puree.  Peaches are a great fruit to hide in baked goods because they don't change the color of the food.  I have experimented with different fruit, hidden in cupcakes, muffins, and pancakes.  Strawberries turn the dough brown, which is good if you're going for a whole-wheat color.  Blueberries tend to turn the dough greenish blue. Bananas are great in quick breads but they add a strong flavor and can soften the texture of the mix.  Peaches are ideal.  They don't seem to effect the texture of pancakes, they maintain that pale beige color, and they add a hint of sweetness.  Once pureed, their texture converts to a milky liquid that goes undetected by even the most texture-sensitive mouth.  Sure, they add a slight peach flavor, but that can be hidden with generous amounts of chocolate chips.

Peaches are my son's only source of orange fruit.  The only raw plants he will touch are apples (and he'll only eat a few bites of those when promised cookies afterwards), bananas (which make him hyper, probably from the phenols), and sometimes he'll eat a few bites of carrot.  That's it.  But this weekend he ate peaches twice, getting all of their wonderful antioxidants and vitamin C.

I have considered pureeing spinach and hiding that in foods, but I am concerned about e-coli. I read about a toddler who died from the e-coli-contaminated spinach that was hidden in his smoothie by his, very clever and caring, mother who was clearly trying to help him be healthy.  The tragedy of that story has stayed in my memory, even after a few years.  A fan of spinach salad for years, I now try to drink pure cranberry juice with it to avoid food poisoning.  They say that cranberry juice is so acidic that it prevents e-coli from sticking to the interior of the bladder, so I figure it might help flush e-coli from the intestines too.  I have tried cooking with cranberry juice, but it never turns out well.

So for right now, I'm sticking to peaches for pancakes.  I added frozen blueberries to the pancakes I made for my husband and me, but I wouldn't dare put those in Jack's pancakes.  I made the chocolate chip pancakes first, and some of the chocolate melted onto the spatula and ended up in one of my blueberry pancakes.  I was surprised and delighted by the taste.

Gluten-free pancake batter shares some qualities with its wheat-based doppleganger.  Two tips for tasty pancakes made with any flour:

1) Barely mix it.  Over-mixing with ruin the texture of the pancakes.  Add your liquid to your flour mix and slightly whisk it. I use a large silicone whisk and I lightly toss the "milk" with the flour. The dough should be lumpy.

2) Let the batter sit before you put it on the griddle.  The box says it needs to sit for five minutes.  I get better results if I let it sit for closer to ten minutes.  The lumps tend to dissipate into the batter and the baking powder causes the batter to thicken. After ten minutes I toss the batter lightly with my whisk, then I spoon in the blueberries or chocolate chips.  Then spoon or pour onto a hot greased pan.  I use Olive Oil Pam on a nonstick pan that's preheated over medium heat.

Note: using peaches in pancakes will prevent the pancakes from bubbling.  So just let them cook for two minutes, then turn one (spraying the pan again before putting the pancake back down on the pan).  Once you cook a few batches, you'll just know when the pancakes are ready to be turned.

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