Breakfast in our house is two cups of espresso; plus, usually, a piece of toast or a piece of fruit. Sunday is the one day a week we sometimes indulge in a big breakfast. Pancakes are a special treat – preferably blueberry pancakes. We especially like them made with buckwheat, but that grain can be hard to find. A stand at my Greenmarket used to carry buckwheat pancake mix, but not for the last two years. Nor could I find buckwheat flour anywhere for a long time. But recently, the Whole Foods market where I buy frozen wild blueberries for my pancakes suddenly had a whole shelf of fancy organic flours, including buckwheat. I snapped some up.
The pure buckwheat flour looked very different from the farmstand’s mix, which was about as pale as the dry ingredients for white-flour pancakes. This flour was dark gray, with little black specks. Really, it looked as if it could have come out of the vacuum cleaner’s dust bag!
Nothing daunted, I started looking at recipes. Those in my cookbooks seemed very elaborate, some requiring 12 hours of yeast-raising, others calling for molasses, which I don’t care for. Internet research finally produced a nice simple recipe – one that was well and carefully written, and didn’t call for any advance preparation at all.
It said to mix half and half buckwheat and all-purpose flour with salt, soda, and a little sugar. Stir in melted butter, buttermilk, and an optional egg, and the batter would be ready to go. I had buttermilk in the freezer, which I’d defrosted the night before. On Sunday morning I made the batter, omitting the egg but adding the tiny wild blueberries, which promptly turned the mixture a lurid purple.
Tom is the flapjack cook in our household, so he stepped up to the job, wielding his prized cast-iron griddle, which covers two burners of the stove.
The pancakes cooked properly and quickly, with no sticking, and we soon sat down to a fine breakfast of blueberry buttermilk buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup and crisp bacon. The wild berries imparted their reliable bursts of intense flavor, and I’m very happy to say our cakes tasted more richly buckwheaty than any we’d previously made with the commercial mix.
A note on yield: Quantities given in the recipe are supposed to make 15 4-inch pancakes. For the two of us I’d made ⅔ of the amount and, with the blueberries, that produced the whole 15 cakes. It was more than we wanted to eat (well, more than we knew we should eat), so as an experiment I saved the extras. They held up remarkably well for a two-days-later breakfast, warmed in the toaster oven. In addition to being tasty, buckwheat also seems to be durable.
And here’s one interesting factoid that I’ve learned: Buckwheat isn’t wheat. Wheat plants are grasses, but buckwheat comes from the seeds of a broad-leafed plant that’s related to sorrel and rhubarb. Cooking can be broadening in more ways than one!