Buckwheat Pancakes (gluten free)

It’s maple syrup season and, while thinking if it sends my mind in many directions (maple glazed pork chops, maple bread pudding, maple candy), it always comes back to pancakes.

Usually my husband makes the pancakes in our house. He makes delicious, fluffy ones that really soak up the syrup. This week, I stepped onto his turf to make buckwheat pancakes. Buckwheat pancakes are not fluffy, but they’re flavorful and hearty. While I do love a big pile of buttermilk pancakes, I always want to take a nap after I eat them. Somehow, buckwheat pancakes don’t have the same effect on me.

I’ve started to think of buckwheat as a bit of a wonder plant. I was tempted to write “wonder grain,” but buckwheat isn’t a grain and the only thing it has in common with wheat is its name. Buckwheat is actually classified as s fruit rather than a grain.

According to the Ag Marketing Resource Center (http://www.agmrc.org), buckwheat is one of the best sources for bio-available protein in the plant kingdom. It contains all eight essential amino acids, vitamin E and almost all of the vitamin B complex.

The Ag Marketing Resource Center goes on to list health claims, including it may lower blood glucose levels, help to lower high blood pressure and lower high cholesterol.

They also cite a study about buckwheat honey which states, “Honey collected from bees feeding off of buckwheat contained levels of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, 20 times higher than that of other honey tested.”

The website World’s Healthiest Foods notes that, “Buckwheat contains almost 86 milligrams of magnesium in a one-cup serving. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure — the perfect combination for a healthy cardiovascular system.”

See what I mean about it being a wonder food?

Buckwheat pancake mixes are pretty easy to find. They are, however, usually mixed with wheat flour. This isn’t a problem unless you want to avoid wheat or want to try a pure, unadulterated buckwheat pancake.

Buckwheat flour isn’t as easy to come by. I usually have to travel to Kingston or Albany to find it. If you aren’t up for the drive, ask your local grocer if he/she can pick some up for you. The Birkett Mills, in the Finger Lake Region, is one of the country’s largest buckwheat producers. You can buy many buckwheat products from them online at http://thebirkettmills.com/.

The Birkett Mills has a page about growing buckwheat. I’m going to find some buckwheat seeds and toss them in our backyard. They say it’s easy to grow, flourishes in poor soil and needs only a 10-week growing season. We’ll see if it can tolerate shade. If so, I’m going to be harvesting buckwheat come August.

Buckwheat Pancakes
This all-buckwheat flour recipe makes delicious, earthy, nutty pancakes.  Adapted from the blog, Wrightfood

Ingredients
1 cup of buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg, separated

Oil or butter for the skillet

Method

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, powder, salt and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, melted butter and milk.
  • Pour the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  • Beat the egg white until it forms soft peaks (an electric hand mixer makes quick work of this). Gently fold the egg white in to the pancake mix. Don’t over mix.
  • Cook on a lightly buttered or oiled griddle or electric skillet at 375 degrees F. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto the griddle. Cook until the pancakes form bubbles and the edges look cooked. Flip the pancakes and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes.
  • Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm. Repeat with remaining mix.

Makes about 10 five-inch pancakes