Monday, October 8, 2012

Buckwheat Pancakes a la Hodgeson Mill

I'm not sure why, but everyone is afraid of wheat these days. Or, more specifically, the glutens found in it. I don't know what that's all about, but the result of it is more focus on wheat alternatives, like nut meals, quinoa, and buckwheat. I was surprised to find out that buckwheat is not a grain, even though it can be prepared in a similar fashion: boiled and served as a side dish like rice, cooked in milk and eaten with sugar and butter like oatmeal, and made into noodles, pancakes and crepes. The buckwheat bits are actually the seeds of a plant related to rhubarb. And don't quote me on this, but everything I'm reading says that unlike wheat, buckwheat does not cause a spike in blood sugar, and actually helps keep it stable (this is good for diabetics, but also good for non-diabetics who are prone to feeling that sugar crash and reacting by throwing things and/or eating any random junk within reach (I do this. It can't be helped.) It also is said to help lower cholesterol. Here's a link to some nutrition information, too.
I'm not personally afraid of wheat, but when I saw buckwheat flour on sale at my supermarket, with a recipe for pancakes conveniently on the package, I thought I'd try it.
This is what I found:
1. It tastes... like buckwheat. I mean, okay, not a surprise, considering I bought 100% stone ground buckwheat flour, but seriously, it is super buckwheat-y, and the best way I can describe  that is to tell you to imagine slightly-burnt nuts. If you're not used to the taste (do you like soba noodles?) you might want to look into cutting it with some regular flour to get accustomed to it. The nuttiness is delightful, but more might be less if that's what you're into.
2. Happily, being gluten free, it doesn't become tough from too much mixing. For regular pancakes, you're always warned to be careful not to over-mix, because too much working of the batter activates the gluten proteins and this will make your pancakes into hockey pucks, but buckwheat flour doesn't care. The buckwheat flour doesn't even produce a proper runny pancake batter... more of a sticky blob thing, like the beginnings of a pizza dough, only grey. Worry not. You're doing it right.
3. The pancake texture is airy, if a little drier than you're used to with wheat-flour pancakes. My mother suggested making them without sugar and using them like biscuits or English muffins, but we drizzled them with honey (buckwheat honey!) and dolloped them with vanilla yogurt.  

To make about 9 medium pancakes (3 servings) you will need:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk (can use 1 cup buttermilk, with 1 tsp baking soda in place of the baking powder)
2 tbsp melted butter.

Mix the dry ingredients together, then mix in the wet ingredients. It will look pretty thick and sticky, but that's fine. Scoop out the batter (the recipe says "pour" but don't kid yourself) with a 1/4 cup scoop onto a greased pan over medium heat. The pancakes will form into their familiar pancake shape after a minute or so, and will cook up the way pancakes do. Flip them once they look right, and let them cook for another minute or two.

I like them with honey and yogurt, but these would be delicious with maple syrup or jam or whatever you like on your pancakes. Maybe peanut butter? Is that weird?

Notes: I used coconut oil instead of melted butter. Not the best idea, since it is solid below 76 degrees F, and on a cold morning, I got big, solid fat lumps in my batter. I'd only do this again on a warm day, when the oil is runny. Just stick with butter.
Also, I had some old yogurt to use up, so I emptied a 5oz container of strawberry yogurt into my cup-measure and topped off with milk to make a full cup. I used baking soda as a leavener, since yogurt works like buttermilk to activate it.

I do want to try my mother's idea and make them without sugar and a bit more leavener, for a biscuit-like griddle cake that can be cut in half and buttered or used to make a sandwich. I'll report back.


  1. Can you just add more milk to get an end result that's less biscuit-like and more pancake-y? Maybe keep adding milk until the batter was pourable rather than scoopable? I am also interested in your unleavened griddle-cake notion

    1. The batter for the pancakes didnt seem to *need* to be pourable, since the end result was a proper pancake anyway. I just dont see why the original recipe on the package uses the word "pour". But it may have had something to do with the fact that I used yogurt, which is not runny like milk or buttermilk.
      I will try to make pseudo-biscuits soonish. Updates pending! Thanks for the comment :)