My Dad has a soft spot for mills (as in flour mills). My family used to visit them everywhere, on almost every summer vacation, and we would always leave with bags of freshly stone-ground flour, cornmeal and buckwheat. They would sit in the refrigerator for indeterminate lengths of time, dripped on and squeezed to the back by meatloaf and Diet Coke. The flours might have been stashed there for freshness (or because Mom doesn’t really like buckwheat), but our fridge was a ground-grain chamber of doom.
As I thought about it recently (I was reading The Pancake Handbook on the subway), I couldn’t point a taste bud at a single buckwheat memory. I though I liked it. . . At least I remember carrying bags of it home on several occasions and thinking that it looked promising and, well, I would like to like it.
Buckwheat is not actually wheat, or even a grain for that matter. It’s an herb, a distant relative of rhubarb native to Russia and Asia. The seeds are ground to make gluten-less flour—useless for bread, but commonly used to make my favorite food, pancakes. It’s a good source of complex carbohydrates, high in protein and the perfect health food to kick-start a summer morning.
I used an old trick with this. I made my own pancake mix while I was making a batch for that morning, measuring one batch into a bowl and the other into a Ziploc bag to use later. So I made the same recipe the following weekend, but then I only had to measure the wet ingredients.
As you can see, I used Grandma Hazel’s heart waffle iron instead of my trusty griddle. I love waffles and I love hearts and I was lucky that this buckwheat pancake recipe made excellent waffles. It also made great pancakes the next Saturday when I whipped out my pre-made mix.
So, buckwheat waffles taste nutty and tangy, distinctly different and not at all health-food-ish. I liked them. Now I need to find a good mill.
Buckwheat Waffles (And Pancakes)
Adapted from The Pancake Handbook
This recipe is perfect for 2 people, so adjust it up if you need to feed more.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. In a smaller bowl mix up the egg yolk, buttermilk, water and butter. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients all at once and stir just to blend. Like usual, whip the egg white with a hand mixer or a whisk until soft peaks form, then fold the whites gently into the batter.
If using a waffle iron, let it heat up first, then portion out about 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into the iron. Close it, and wait for it to stop steaming. The waffle should become slightly browned and crisp.
For pancakes, heat a skillet over medium high heat (or set your electric skillets to 375 degrees) and ladle out about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. It should take about 2 to 3 minutes for the underside to become brown and bubbles to scatter over the pancake surface. At that point, flip gently and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. (Remember, don’t press on them while they’re cooking, or you’ll end up with a dense puck of a pancake.)
Serve with 100% maple syrup and summer fruit. Enjoy!