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{heaven’s} buttermilk buckwheat cakes

February 16, 2011

I’m convinced some angels are sitting around in halos and white gowns noshing on these buttermilk buckwheat pancakes.  I imagine the angelic second course would be a luscious béchamel sauce lasagna followed by a perfectly-crisped crème brûlée.  I’m guessing.  But I guarantee, these buttermilk buckwheat pancakes are on the menu.

The pancakes are a bit of a science experiment, however.  Right up until the point that I slid them from pan to plate, I was nervous.  Particularly nervous since I decided to go with a trial run of the recipe for Big Friend’s birthday.  Luckily, in the journey from pan to plate to fork to lips, the science experiment turned into a bit of heaven.  They were so popular with all the Big, Medium, and Little members of our family, the science-experiment-turned-angel’s-food reappeared on our Valentine’s Day breakfast plates for an encore performance.

Why a science experiment?  Well, for one thing, they’re 100% buckwheat.  And for another, you whip up the batter the night before.  With yeast.  That rises.  Grows.  Multiplies.  Drips over the sides of your mixing bowl if you’re not careful.  Then you tame it all back into submission in the morning with a dose of baking soda and water.  On the pros side, this process ensures an easy, quick breakfast in the morning.  On the cons side, you’ve got a science experiment growing in your oven overnight.

I love these pancakes for the taste (really, they’re the best pancakes I’ve had aside from Nutella crepes, but that’s not a fair comparison at all!), but also for the vintage origins of the recipe.  I filched the recipe from the back of a buckwheat sack.  Come to think of it, this recipe is probably the only reason I bought the bag of buckwheat in the first place.  (Buying an ingredient to get a recipe–seems backward, doesn’t it?)  So thanks to this vintage recipe, compliments of Zanella Milling Company in West Sunbury, PA, I’m dining and singing praises with the heavenly choirs.

The original recipe calls for sour milk or buttermilk.  I went with buttermilk since I had some sitting in the fridge.  I modified molasses to blackstrap molasses for the added health benefits (it’s particularly high in calcium, among other goodness), and switched the 1/2 cake of compressed yeast to 2 1/4 teaspoons (or one packet) of active yeast.

I should also mention the recipe makes enough to feed a platoon of angels.  Even when I halved the recipe, I had plenty left over to freeze.  The cakes freeze beautifully with a piece of waxed paper separating each.  It’s nothing if not convenient to pull out one or two frozen slices of heavenly buckwheat pancakes, pop them in the toaster or microwave to thaw, and serve up with Maple Syrup and Bewyies (Little Friend-ese for Berries) at breakfast.

Heavenly Buttermilk Buckwheat  Pancakes
(Adapted from Zanella Milling, who notes, “A simplified recipe for modern kitchens.”  Grin.)

Place the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:

2 cups sour milk or buttermilk*

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon molasses*

1/2 cake compressed yeast dissolved in 1 cup warm water*

The night before:

Add to the mixture enough buckwheat flour to make a thick batter.  (I used approximately 3 cups.)

Set in a warm place to rise overnight.  (I warmed my oven and placed my mixing bowl on a baking sheet–easy clean up.)

The morning of:

In the morning, add one-half teaspoon baking soda dissolved in warm water.  If batter is too thick, thin with water.

The pancakes are especially divine if cooked with coconut oil in a hot cast-iron pan.  Cook until bubbles form throughout the batter.  Flip only once.  Serve piping hot and golden brown.

*See my notes in the paragraph above on my preferences.

If these pancakes don’t earn rave reviews from every taste-tester in your household, I’ll eat your leftovers AND give you your money back.  Which won’t cost me much.  I am sharing the heavenly pancake love for free, after all.  Hey–maybe after trying these pancakes you’ll end up wanting to pay me.  You know, just out of the goodness of your heart and your satisfied stomach.  Yeah, they’re good enough to make angels out of all of us.

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2011 6:11 pm

    Yum! I’d say that your science experiment was a success! I love how simple these are and how they’re gluten free – I’ll have to try making them sometime. 🙂

  2. Naomi permalink
    February 17, 2011 7:04 am

    I want to try this recipe! However, as I was editing it to put into my MasterCook program, I noticed that the instructions say to add baking soda and water two times. Is this correct? I’m thinking that it should be added in the morning mixture, but not to the night-before mixture. Thanks for sharing this, it does look and sound delicious!

    • February 17, 2011 8:02 am

      Naomi, you’re absolutely right. Baking soda and water are added in the morning just before cooking. I’ll re-edit the recipe to clear up the confusion. I hope you enjoy the pancakes as much as we have!

  3. February 17, 2011 8:51 am

    Don’t they look delicious? Not sure I could get all those ingredients here in France so I’ll just have to be satisfied with looking at your great pix.

  4. Megan permalink
    February 17, 2011 9:53 am

    Funny that there is a picture of a buck on the bag. I don’t really think buckwheat has anything to do with deer, right? I used to think I didn’t like buckwheat pancakes, but we’re working through a sack we received for Christmas (also using recipe on package) and loving it!

  5. February 17, 2011 11:28 am

    Having been the lucky recipient of these delicious concoctions, I can testify they are every bit as delicious as Beth stated!

  6. February 17, 2011 3:01 pm

    Hi Beth,
    Heavenly indeed! Your Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes looks so delicious. I am sure all of these ingredients are in my pantry and frig, I will be making your recipe right away. Thank you so much for bringing these wonderful pancakes to Full Plate Thursday and please come back!

    • February 17, 2011 8:23 pm

      I’m glad to have found Full Plate Thursday (and just noticed I forgot to add your badge to my post–will fix momentarily!) I hope you enjoy the pancakes as much as we do!

  7. Naomi permalink
    February 17, 2011 6:59 pm

    Okay, I’m back. I just mixed the batter, if you can call it that: it is mostly a very dry crumbly mixture and I don’t see how it can rise with no more liquid than that. I just made half the recipe, but is this how yours starts out? I hope you might see this and help me before bedtime! :)) I ground my own buckwheat, by the way, that might affect the dryness, although I really don’t see why it should. Hmm . . .

    • February 17, 2011 8:21 pm

      “Very dry and crumbly mixture” does not sound heavenly at all! The vintage recipe calls for “enough buckwheat flour to make a thick batter.” Nothing more specific or helpful than that. While I hate to recommend you throw out this entire first batch, I’m not really sure how to fix it other than to start from scratch. Try adding the buckwheat a bit at a time until the batter is slightly runnier than a muffin batter. Does your home-ground buckwheat turn out a consistency finer than powdered sugar? That’s what I’m working with on my end, so maybe it would affect the dryness after all. Please let me know how this turns out. I’ll check back before I head to bed in hopes I can help produce a great breakfast for you in the morning!

      • Naomi permalink
        February 17, 2011 9:39 pm

        No, it’s not that fine, but it’s as fine as my regular wheat flour when I grind it. Sorry, I’ve had to be doing something else this evening and just saw your reply. I just added some more buttermilk to the mixture to get it moister. If it doesn’t turn out this time, I’ll try again later. Thank you so much for hanging with me to help me out. I’ll be sure to let you know how they turn out!

      • Naomi permalink
        February 17, 2011 10:00 pm

        Well, I went ahead and started over. I couldn’t seem to add enough buttermilk to get it to a batter and felt I was wasting my buttermilk, so now I feel better about it. I have to tell you, though, that I did it wrong the first time. I used your “about 4 cups buckwheat flour” instruction but forgot to add the flour to the liquid instead of the other way around. This time I saw my mistake and it’s looking much better.

        My mother used to make buckwheat pancakes for us when we were children, and I didn’t like them at all. I think she was using a mix made by Aunt Jemima or something. So I’m giving buckwheat pancakes a chance for redemption now. I hope we’ll like them. You can go to bed now, I’m going to. Thanks again, Beth!

  8. Naomi permalink
    February 17, 2011 10:01 pm

    Ooh, I just saw my typo “about 4 cups”, I meant 3 cups! And I used half of that. Okay, good night!

  9. Naomi permalink
    February 18, 2011 8:09 am

    Good morning! Pancakes: I have one question – what binds the batter so it will actually form a cake in the pan? This was definitely not binding. I would have the same problem with any pancake recipe that does not contain eggs or SUMthin’! Even after I cooked a test pancake, I was able to scoop a spoonful of it from the “pancake”, it was just a gloppy mess. I don’t understand how yours could possibly look like they do in the pic without a binder. Secret?

    • February 23, 2011 8:44 pm

      Hmmm. I too was perplexed by the lack of eggs in the recipe, but I found that the consistency of my batter (after rising overnight) was actually fairly thick, gelatinous, and sticky. All words that make food sound supremely unappetizing, I know! Once I added the water/baking soda, I fiddled with the batter and added some water until I had something slightly thicker than regular pancake batter. Probably more like a cross between a muffin and pancake batter. I bet in total I ended up adding another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. My pancakes had no problem cooking up once in the pan. Maybe the angels were smiling down on me?! If you ever get your batter to work, please let me know so I don’t have to live with disappointment!

      • Naomi permalink
        February 24, 2011 6:30 am

        That is so amazing! Well, the only thing I can think of then is that mine is home ground and yours is purchased already ground. I use a WonderMill, which produces very fine flour, but oh, I just realized something else! I acquired these groats from a Russian girl who brought them with her when she stayed here as a student last year. I noticed that they are darker than the groats I see in stores here. I don’t know anything about them because the package was entirely in Russian and I didn’t understand any of it! But I figured buckwheat is buckwheat. It is as dark as some roasted buckwheat I have on my shelf, actually darker. Hmm, I may be talking myself through this, maybe these ARE roasted buckwheat, which would explain everything. Because these ground groats were never going to come together enough to form a pancake. Rats, and I was so looking forward to having some nice buckwheat pancakes from freshly ground groats! Oh well. Now you don’t have to live with disappointment any more. Only I do. Unless you send me some of YOUR flour. 🙂 Thanks for hanging with me through this. I think this is pretty funny how it turned out!

        I did see some buckwheat groats in my health food store the other day; maybe I’ll try it with some of those. If so, I’ll get back to you.

  10. February 23, 2011 7:52 pm

    Congratulations, you are featured on Full Plate Thursday 2-24-11. You are welcome to stop by and pick up your Red Plate. Enjoy!

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