In the throes of a fitful summer, filled with stormy days and other assorted weather weirdness, my thoughts turned to vacation plans. Yes, I said it. Summer is one of my favorite seasons, and the irregularly wet and downright chilly days of a normally hot August could put a cramp in anyone’s style. So in a wistful weariness, I daydreamed of faraway places and scenic surroundings.
Nevertheless, reality would prove to be far better. During my research on gluten-free foods around the globe for World Gourmet Society, I was fortunate enough to become acquainted with some dear folks who own a travel service near Greece, in Crete. The owner, Mr. Giorgos (or George) Portokalakis, has shared a few recipes well worth looking into, one of which I will adapt here, with a few variations.
Now there are a few things that most Americans have grown to love. A big fluffy pancake is one of them. Frankly, just about every culture has some form of pancake, dumpling, or fritter that is tasty with some kind of sauce, syrup, or other delectables. Well, I don’t blame them. I love pancakes too.
Due to completely different concerns of relatives, we were reared to avoid box mixes like they were devil-inspired, fire-breathing dragons. Don’t get me wrong, if that is the best a person can do with their circumstances then fine. But it is just not me, and I have been reticent to simply pull something off the shelf because it screams “gluten-free!” and go to it. My experience with gluten-free foods has been that anything claiming to be miraculous means narrow-eyed caution is in order, and God help me if it’s in a box too!
So, adventure calling all the way from the Hellenic isles was right up my alley! A new pancake recipe! Yum! Also fun is the fact that there are two different styles, traditionally. Tiganites mediallion-style pancakes are made during Great Lent, and contain no eggs or dairy. They fluff up nicely, and Mr Portakalakis recommended soda water for the gluten-free style tiganites.
Loukamades, may contain yeast, and in a deep fry they swell up into balls and lovely shapes. They are traditionally served with honey, cinnamon, sugar, and/or grated toasted sesame… My word. They were like a mixture of pancakes and carnival funnel cakes on a plate!
Grecian honey is legendary and speaks for itself; with the wild thyme essences contained therein.
Yum it was…
One may use rice flour for a very nice, light batter. I used a mix of 3 oz white rice flour and 3.5 oz sorghum flour and it was a bit more “toothy”. Both are delicious.
Gluten Free Greek Pancakes – (Loukamades Style)
(with measurements by weight)
.25 oz (1 package) dry yeast
2 oz warm water
6.5 oz gluten free flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2-3 fl oz additional warm water
Dissolve the yeast in the first portion of water.
In a sturdy heat proof mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients (and any desired spices such as cinnamon or allspice). When the yeast is dissolved pour it and the additional warm water into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly- a fork is fine- but mix it completely. The result will be a very smooth batter.
Next, the key is to let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours, until the batter is doubled. I turned the oven to 200 and let it warm, then turned the oven off and put the entire covered bowl in to let it rise without cooking. The batter will puff up and become porous.
When it is ready use, a 1oz portion scoop or pastry bag is great to avoid a mess. Then drop each portion into very hot oil- olive oil is most authentic, but any oil can be used. If a pancake shape is desired, use a shallow oil level. If round balls are desired, use a deep fry amount of oil. They will puff up beautifully, and the texture will be crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside… and the flavor…is wonderful.