Artocarpus altilis breadfruit flour pancakes

With thanks to Emihner Johnson of the Island Food Community of Pohnpei, this gluten intolerant author had the pleasure of enjoying pancakes made from mei niwe breadfuit (Artocarpus altilis) flour. The flour is produced from the dried breadfruit, skin and all.

As a consumer of gluten-free products, I am keenly aware of some of the cooking benefits of gluten. I know the role of guar or xanthan gum in producing a softer, less gritty cooked rice flour products. Thus of particular interest to me is whether a particular flour can produce a nice, soft, smooth product without having to add in a gum.

I followed a traditional Betty Crocker cookbook recipe as I have past experience with the recipe and know the results with wheat flour.

The flour is on the left, the liquid ingredients, already beaten, are added on the right.

The breadfruit flour "wets" easily and mixes immediately to a non-lumpy mix, unlike wheat flour which has a lumpy stage at which one stops mixing.

The first pancake on the griddle is always suboptimal, but in this case the batter is too thick. I added a splash of milk to the batter to reduce the thickness. Breadfruit flours may need a touch more liquid than wheat flours.

Although in the past I cook wheat flour pancakes at "50%" power, the first pancake showed signs of starting to burn. I am accustomed to this with rice based flours. Frying pan temperatures have to be slightly lower. Power is set down around "40%" or thereabouts. Cooking gluten free pan breads seems to occur best at slightly lower temperatures and slightly longer cook times than gluten flours. Note too that after I add a small amount of olive oil to the cast iron pan, I do not again add any oil. The rest of the pancakes were cooked without oil being added to the pan.

A second pancake flowed better onto the griddle and cooked well. The eggs on island are small and I chose not to double up the eggs. I am aware that Betty Crocker is written for American style larger eggs, and that will have an impact on the pancake.

On flipping, the pancake has the color and texture of a wheat based pancake. A key difference is invisible: breadfruit flour has more fiber and nutrients than wheat flour.

The pancakes rose nicely on the flip. The baking powder used was Calumet.

The results of a single cup of mei niwe breadfruit flour.

The resulting pancakes cooked through and are well leavened for a pancake. I have had breadfruit fritters made from ripe breadfruit (not dried) and those have a distinctive breadfruit flavor. The flour derives, I presume, from breadfruit that is not fully ripe and does not have as strong a breadfruit flavor. That said, there is still a distinct flavor to the pancake, one that is reminiscent of breadfruit.

The pancake is slightly more bread-like in terms of dryness than a wheat flour pancake, at least to the best of my recollection. I have not had a wheat flour pancake in over seven years, so here I am operating on memory. The breadfruit flour pancake is also more resistant to surfacing tearing when spreading butter onto the pancake.

Minus the butter and syrup, the breadfruit pancake is a healthy choice. The choice to leave the skin on does not seem to have affected the flour nor the pancakes in any way.

Island Food is testing a variety of flours made from breadfruit varieties, taro, and bananas. Yes, banana flour! I am fortunate to live on a island where I can enjoy unusual and wonderful gluten-free flour products. For those of us testing these flour samples, Island Food also asks us to report on any itchiness or allergic reactions. This concern centers primarily on some of the soft taros. There are some here who react to soft taro, Colocasia esculenta. Breadfruit reactions are not something of which I am aware, cooked breadfruit does not appear to engender reported allergic reactions. That said, those with allergies to figs or mulberries are cautioned as to possible cross-allergies with other members of Moraceae, including Artocarpus altilis. No one in the house reacted to the experimental mei niwe flour.


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