I have this really tasty recipe for pancakes that use almond flour and whey protein (along with Ricotta cheese and lemon). However, the problem is, these pancakes don't "flip". Does anyone have any advice on what could be done to improve this tasty breakfast treat? Oh, and I have also tried to make it in a waffle maker, and that doesn't work right either. We lovingly call this recipe "Scrambled Pancakes". :)

Here is the list of ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 4 packets Splenda, stevia, or erythritol
  • Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup natural or vanilla whey protein powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1
    Just how fragile are the pancakes after you have fried them on one side? Do they fall apart if you just touch them, or do they have some integrity? I was thinking that if they can withstand some amount of touching you could perhaps just fold them to a half moon with a large spatula rather than flipping them over. That way the uncooked top side would still cook a little, with the heat being transferred from the cooked side. Finally you could just slide them out onto a plate. Not quite the same as normal pancakes, but maybe it is better than scrambled pancakes. Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 11:26
  • @Henrik, They don't just fall totally apart, you can actually kind of flip them, but I end up losing a lot of the filling and it makes a mess so we just end up scrambling them so that every part gets cooked. I like your idea.
    – AtlasRN
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 11:40
  • You say you end up losing the filling. What sort of filling is this, and are you frying the pancakes with the filling? Please explain further. Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 12:41
  • 1
    Sorry, when I said "filling" it was more like the batter. I just misspoke.
    – AtlasRN
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 13:27
  • Vaguely related: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/7898/… Commented May 22, 2012 at 20:30

5 Answers 5


It is no wonder you can't keep them whole. There isn't anything in the recipe to give them integrity.

A normal pancake has lots of egg and lots of flour. When you are frying them, the proteins of the egg uncurl and connect to their neighbours to set in a loose, weak mesh. You know how the egg white sets when you fry an egg without whisking it? That happens in a pancake batter too, but much weaker, because there is a load of other stuff swimming around, so the protein molecules have less neighbours to build their connections to.

Then there is the flour. As usual, when you heat a batter, the gluten proteins in flour do the same thing as the egg white proteins, building their own mesh which permeates the whole pancake. While there is less gluten building than in a well-kneaded dough, it is enough to make the pancake hold together.

In your recipe, this just doesn't happen. You have no gluten content at all. So the stronger holding-together-part falls away. Unlike wheat flour, almond flour has no gluten. So it isn't contributing to holding the pancake together.

So what about the whole other protein you have in there? Well, the point is, it is already set. Ricotta, whey protein are both cooked proteins. They can't uncurl and connect a second time. So instead of helping the binding, they are inhibiting it. Every egg protein molecule which could have connected to a neighbouring egg protein molecule in a more fluid batter now keeps bumping into almond, ricotta and whey particles, to which it can't bind at all. So what you have here is a mixture of wetted powders without a binding agent. No wonder it can't hold together.

The best way I can see here is adding wheat flour back. You don't have to sacrifice all of your almond flour. Make a partial substitution, and also substitute part of the whey protein. This will keep the proper viscosity of the batter, while preserving the almond flour taste.

The way the recipe is constructed, however, it looks like somebody decided to exterminate all the carbs in it just because. If you are determined to keep your pancakes zero carbs, you can try throwing out all the whey powder and adding egg white instead. I can't guarantee this will be enough to do the binding, but if you insist on "real pancakes", this is worth a try.

I don't think there are any other traditional techniques you can use to improve your "batter" bonding. Of course, nowadays you can experiment with additives. Transglutaminase looks like your best bet. You'll probably need lots of tries until you get the recipe right, but it should bind the cooked ricotta proteins well enough. You don't want a superstrong binding for this application.

  • 3
    Thanks for the comment, but I am on a Paleo & Gluten free diet, so we can't have the extra flour or gluten. I am needing to keep the recipe as close to it as possible without having to add flour into the recipe since there is a chance that I could become gluten intolerant. I have thickening agents such as Xanthan gum, but wouldn't exactly know how much to use. The recipe came from a good Paleo cookbook that has given us tons of other amazing meals, I just can't get this one.
    – AtlasRN
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 11:34
  • If you can't have gluten, use my second or third proposal. I don't see how a thickener can help you. Your problem isn't viscosity - if anything, your mixture is already way too thick. You could try gelling the daylights out of it with a gum, but 1) gums are thermosensitive - you'll have to bake one side, put it away to cool down & set (still in the pan, a removal attempt at this point will scramble it), then flip and bake the other side. 2) if you use enough gum to achieve that, it will taste of rubber. For flipping you need stickiness, not viscosity, and you have none here except eggwhite.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 12:16
  • 2
    The mixture is actually not as thick as you are thinking it is. It isn't as thin as scrambled eggs, but not thick like regular pancake mixture, which is why I thought of the xanthan gum. In my mind the recipe has to work somehow without totally altering it or else it wouldn't have made it into the book, or they would have called them scrambled pancakes not Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.
    – AtlasRN
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 12:44
  • 2
    If you try gum, please write how it turned out, I am very curious. I would try it myself, but I don't use whey powder. And don't trust the recipe just because it got published in a book. Maybe it doesn't work despite the publication (and there are strong signs that it doesn't).
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 15:29
  • First off, I bake extensively with whey protein powders (and almond flour, see cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/101122/…), and AFAIK, whey protein powders are not already "cooked". Provided the overall pH isn't too acidic, when hydrated, they can and do form fairly strong gels just like egg proteins do.
    – NSGod
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 22:51

Xanthan gum did the trick the next time I tried it.


I think the issue is that there isn't enough almond flour in your recipe, the ricotta and sour cream are making your batter thick, but when cooked it isn't going to bind properly. Doing a quick search of other recipes with results posted, most of them use more flour and more liquidy ingredients.


Try tapioca flour/oat flour to maintain your paleo and GF diet.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – canardgras
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 14:18
  • 1
    @canardgras it actually provides an answer to the question since it solves the problem of the recipe which is lack of gluteinization caused by not having actual gluten from wheat flour by replacing it with a gluten-free alternative that might be allowed in Paleo (depending on diet specifics that OP doesn't elaborate). I agree that it could be far more complete and helpful, providing the rationale behind the solution, and that should be the improvement comment. Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 15:30

One thing that might help is using a lid while cooking the pancakes. This will trap the steam and let the upper half of the pancake cook, and set, a bit more before stress-testing its integrity - so it may have enough strength to survive a flip. Especially since from the comments it sounds like part of the problem is the batter being thin and running off the top when trying to flip the pancake - having it even partially set would likely help with that.

I've done this with omelets and with dhosas (rice crepes), to get the top to cook when it otherwise doesn't have the strength to be flipped - it may not solve the problem perfectly, but it may help.

Or else you could try making smaller pancakes. It might work to make very thin ones (like dhosas) that only need to be browned on one side and can be folded over (and flipped from there) to let the middle cook. It won't be exactly the same, more crepe-like and less fluffy, but it may be very good nevertheless.

Another option might be small sized ones, like silver dollar pancakes. A smaller volume of batter should cook (and set) a bit more evenly, so there's less of the top still being raw by the time the bottom's done. It also helps because the flipper will support a larger portion of the pancake's area from the bottom, meaning it has to hold up less weight with its own strength. The closer to the flipper the pancake breaks when trying to flip normally, the smaller a pancake will need to be to flip successfully. If the pancakes have enough integrity to scramble, they should hold up to flipping at very small pancake sizes.

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