Growing up, I loved books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read each book at least a dozen times. In The Long Winter, Laura and her family are saved from certain starvation when her future stud, Almanzo (who is hilariously called “Manly” for short), teams up with his good friend Cap Garland to go procure some wheat from a stingy farmer! The two heroes are galvanized into action by a visit from Laura’s gaunt father, Charles. During that visit, Manly feeds Charles… buckwheat pancakes!
Buckwheat is an interesting food. It isn’t actually related to wheat, which is a grass; its seeds spring from flowering plants that are related to sorrel and rhubarb. Cultivation of buckwheat is believed to have begun over 8,000 years ago in southeast Asia, spreading gradually westward. It was quite popular in the United States until the turn of the 20th century, when the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers became widespread; buckwheat doesn’t do well in nitrogen-rich environments. More than twenty times more buckwheat was cultivated in the United States prior to 1900 than is cultivated today.
I always wanted to try buckwheat, but I grew up with a mother whose idea of dinner was heating up a package of hot dogs and calling it a day. Something as obscure as buckwheat never wound up on our table, and I’m not entirely sure she’d ever even heard of buckwheat. She made things from scratch only a handful of times in her entire lifetime. It’s a wonder, really, that I love to bake as much as I do. Early last year, in the midst of broadening my culinary horizons and learning how to make my own almond flour (a post on that is in the works!), I had a wild hair and recalled the buckwheat pancakes served in The Long Winter. Amazingly, buckwheat is now widely available in my area! My sweet husband was with me for my first buckwheat sighting, and he told me that buckwheat is wonderful stuff. He was so right.
I attempted a buckwheat pancake recipe found on the Interwebs, and fell in love with the nutty flavour of buckwheat. I kept tweaking that recipe until it was just right. This heavily tweaked recipe yields a very tender, fluffy, moist pancake, with flavour notes of vanilla, nutty buckwheat, and butter. If you cook them with coconut oil, they have a faint coconut flavour as well, which I adore. The pancakes come out of the pan with deliciously crispy edges! I usually wind up eating at least three while I’m cooking, fresh from the pan. Any leftover pancakes can be refrigerated for up to about 3 – 5 days, and they reheat beautifully. A little of the crispy edge is lost in reheating, but the tenderness and flavour are wholly retained.
I can’t really eat white flour pancakes anymore, because they make my blood sugar spike and don’t really pack much protein to speak of. Buckwheat seeds are comprised of 18% crude protein, stemming from a high concentration of all essential amino acids. Buckwheat is rich in iron, and boasts antioxidants as well. It’s little wonder that buckwheat doesn’t cause the spike in blood sugar that white flour does! This is one of the few examples of healthy food that actually tastes better than the less healthy food – in my opinion, anyway. Served warm with a pat of butter and maple syrup, these buckwheat pancakes are the bomb-diggity-shizzam!
If you enjoyed reading this, click here to subscribe to my blog. That way, you’ll never miss a post!
Yield: Approximately 18 – 30 pancakes*, depending on their size
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour**
4 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 stick butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
coconut oil*** OR olive oil, for greasing the pan
In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add butter, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Do not over-whisk; a few remaining lumps are fine. Over-whisking pancake batter makes the pancakes tough.
In a large skillet on medium-medium high heat, melt enough coconut oil to lubricate the pan. Scoop 1/4-cup sized dollops of batter into the pan, leaving about 2″ between each circle of batter. (You may only be able to cook 2 – 3 pancakes at a time; this is fine. Just place cooked pancakes on a plate and cover with aluminum foil. They will stay plenty warm.) Leave the circles of batter alone until the air bubbles that rise to the surface leave a dent in the batter when they pop. If, when the air bubbles pop, the batter smooths over, the pancake is not yet ready to be flipped.
When the air bubbles pop and leave a dent in the surface of the pancake, carefully flip the pancake and cook for another 30 seconds to one minute. Remove the cooked pancakes to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep the pancakes warm while you continue cooking the rest of the batter. Continue adding coconut oil as needed to keep the pan lubricated.
Serve immediately, with butter and maple syrup (and whipped cream, if you’re feeling especially festive). Cooled pancakes can be refrigerated and reheated at a later time.
*Recipe can be halved or even quartered, if desired.
**Buckwheat is itself gluten-free, but some buckwheat flours incorporate wheat. Inspect the packaging to make sure the buckwheat flour is gluten-free, if that is what you prefer.
***Coconut oil adds a very delicate coconut flavour to these pancakes. If using coconut oil is not an option, olive oil or similar will work just fine.
Source: Heavily adapted from Simply Recipes