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Generally Recognized As True: Buckwheat and whole-wheat pancakes

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Buckwheat and whole-wheat pancakes

My latest thinking is that it's time to restore more variety into what I eat, rather than the usual things that are so easy to come by, but rob your diet of diversity.

Even within a relatively diverse fresh fruit and vegetable section at the supermarket, you're often limited to only one type of carrot, one type of broccoli, one type of banana, or just a couple of varieties of tomatoes when, once upon a time, many different species within each of those categories existed (carrots, for example, were originally purple). We got rid of the species that didn't lend themselves to the production of huge crop yields on large-scale farms, or which didn't survive transportation over long distances very well. Of the surviving species, we've modified them so that they are even more compatible with these goals. Taste and nutrition come last because the former is only relative to what else is available, and the latter is invisible.

So, for some diversity, I decided to try and squeeze buckwheat in -- something that isn't actually a grain like normal wheat is, but bears a resemblance in its name -- and the first thing that came to mind was buckwheat pancakes. I suspect I'm not alone in thinking of that first.

This recipe should serve one hungry person or two more civilized people :)

You need:
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour: I got mine from Organic Garage in Oakville
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour: you really don't need to use white flour if you follow my recipe!
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar: you could probably substitute honey for more diversity
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk: I'm using 3.8% whole milk

First, combine the dry ingredients together -- both flours, the salt, and baking powder -- and blend them well.

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, except for the melted butter. Add the melted butter last, and slowly trickle it into the mixture while stirring so that it integrates with the other ingredients before it cools and starts to solidify again. Butter chunks are no problem because they will melt again during cooking, and if you add it slowly then it'll be well blended and won't be in big chunks.

Next, combine the wet and dry ingredients and use a whisk to whip the mixture for about 30 seconds. The idea is to incorporate some air.

Cover the bowl and either let the mixture rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, or put it in the fridge overnight. This will ensure that the flours -- whole wheat, in particular -- are properly hydrated. Unrefined flours take longer to absorb moisture.

Then, it's ready to cook. I like using a cast iron griddle, but there's no reason why you couldn't use a frying pan. Pre-heat the griddle on medium heat until suitably hot and then start pouring batter onto the griddle in the desired size of pancake. This batter isn't too runny, so you would probably do well to spread the batter out a little bit in circular motions with a spatula.

The flavours of buckwheat and wheat flour complement each other very well, and the pancakes go best with something earthy-tasting, like real maple syrup.

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