Today I thought I’d perhaps rewind a bit and talk about how I got started with experimenting with gluten free and other non-wheat flours. (This is partly because I realized I’ve yet to post photos of these buckwheat pancakes and also because I didn’t have my camera this week to take any new photos.) As I was typing out today’s post, I also decided that I shall name this new series Thursday’s Trio, because for every new ingredient I’m introducing on this blog, I shall also include a trio of facts, uses and recipes for that particular ingredient (three is my lucky number, if you’re wondering why trio). I had initially wanted to call it Feature Friday, but that’s been used so many times, so Thursday’s Trio it is. These facts and tips are usually stuff I scour the internet for when baking with something new, and is of great use to me when experimenting, so I hope it will be of use to you as well, especially if the ingredient is new to you too! :]

 

So today I’m starting with buckwheat.
Now, I’m pretty sure I was like many of you – I frequented many blogs, especially blogs like Tartlette, La Tartine Gourmande and 101 Cookbooks. If you have the time, do click on the links because not only are the photographs exquisite, the persons behind those blogs are genial and truly have wonderful stories to tell. So anyway, visiting those blogs are definitely not good for me because I never fail to salivate each time I visit, and because I get the ‘itch’ – the itch to buy stuff and follow their recipes. All three bloggers share something in common – they believe in healthy and wholesome eating and as a result, their recipes tend not to use the white refined flours that we are used to. Now, I used to get very overwhelmed by all the new names I saw – buckwheat, sorghum, millet, etc. I used to think, what the hell are these?! There were several hurdles I had to overcome before I finally started buying some of those flours and opened a whole new world to myself. Like Sharon commented earlier, looking out of the ‘wheat’ square does tend to introduce you to new grains and flours, all of which are nutritious for you.
from left: almond, buckwheat and sorghum flours

Anyway, the first hurdle was my own self-inflicted fear of trying new things. Once I got over that (after convincing myself that if I failed I’d feed the stuff to my dogs), I faced another problem – where to get those weird sounding flours? At the supermarket, I only tend to see the same few flours. I managed to locate some of those flours, but then I was faced with yet another problem, these flours were sold in at least 500g quantities and were expensive! And I was afraid that I wouldn’t like the taste of them and hence waste the rest of the flour away! Sounds familiar?

Long story short, I managed to find a pretty cheap source of unique flours (will let you all know where shortly in another post when I compile my list) and my experiments began! Most of my family members are quite ‘anti’ towards my experiments, so sadly, I am usually the only one eating it. I figured what better way to experiment than pancakes? Not only were they simple to make, I could make them in small batches enough for myself, and the taste of the flour will feature prominently, allowing me to decide if I liked the flour or not.

 

I decided to start with buckwheat. I have to admit that the moment I opened the flour packet, I was a little grossed out. The ‘smell’ reminded me of Indians (no offense or racist connotation intended!), and it was only after I asked my mom that I knew that buckwheat flour is a very commonly used flour in Indian cooking! No wonder I associated the smell of the flour with Indians! :]
Anyway, most people will say that buckwheat has a nutty flavor, but it reminded me more of a grassy than nutty flavor. For bakers wanting to experiment with buckwheat, I’d strongly recommend starting small, because I found myself needing to get used to the almost smoky flavor of the flour. At first, I was wondering if it was because I got it from an Indian shop that it smelt and tasted so ‘Indian’ (I’m not being discriminatory here but I associate this smell with Indian homes), but I realized that it’s the same taste everywhere. It is an extremely earthy taste.

 

Three interesting facts on buckwheat!
  1. Buckwheat is actually a plant, and not a cereal crop and the plant is usually ground with its outer bran, which is high in fiber. This gives us the dark brown color flour that we see, with dark flecks which is the bran. What’s even more interesting is that this fruit seed is actually related to rhubarb!
  2. Buckwheat does not contain any gluten, which makes it a good flour to use for people with gluten intolerance.
  3. Buckwheat is also an excellent source of protein. It contains all 8 essential amino acids. Low in fat and high in fibre. Basically, buckwheat is a super healthy food, and you can refer to this if you want to know more.
Three ways of using buckwheat!
  1. It is also known as sarrasin in French, which is the base ingredient for sarrasin crêpes from Brittany, which I blogged about earlier. The same is known as blinis in Russia, which are essentially tiny egg like pancakes. Or you can just use them for these pancakes like what I’ve done.
  2. It also makes buckwheat noodles, which are the backbone of much Japanese and Korean cuisine. Soba and naengmyeon anyone?
  3. You can also use buckwheat groats (Available at organic food stores) in porridge or in baking. They taste pretty good!
Three interesting recipes I’ve bookmarked from local blogs: 
How to store buckwheat?
Most recommend storing buckwheat in a sealed, airtight container and placing it in a cool dark place. I say just put it in the fridge and it will last long enough for you to experiment with :]
***

I didn’t want to use a buckwheat pancake recipe that I didn’t trust, because there are quite a few available on the internet. Instead, I modified my pancake recipe. This is my go-to pancake recipe, because I’ve modified it such that one batch below makes exactly 4 large pancakes, which I have over 2 mornings (2 each for breakfast each day).

 

Transitional Buckwheat Pancakes 

60g flour (30g buckwheat flour)
2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
10g oil (I used olive oil)
50g egg (small egg)
85g milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon powder


Method: 
  1. In a bowl, sift the flours with baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the salt and sugar.
  2. In another bowl, mix the oil, egg, milk and vanilla extract together.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients into the dry and give the mixture a quick mix or two. It is okay if the mixture contains a few lumps or two, do not overmix or else you will get tough pancakes!
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium low heat. Using a
    ¼-cup measuring spoon, ladle the

    ¼-cup of batter on the pan and cook for 3 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip the pancake and cook for another 2 minute or until golden brown.

  5. Repeat with remaining batter and serve warm with maple syrup. Enjoy!

 

Janine’s jots: 
  • Note:  My pancakes may look overly cooked and not evenly brown, but that’s because I use very little oil in cooking them, relying on the nonstick pan and mainly heat to cook the pancakes, hence the uneven brownness. I also like to turn up the heat at the start so that the outsides cook faster than the inside, and I get a relatively more ‘crispy’ texture on the outside of the pancake.
  • Taste: I like to add an extra pinch of cinnamon to my pancakes, because I feel that it enhances the taste and especially with buckwheat, since it really did help cut down the earthy taste and ease me into taking buckwheat. Also, the pancakes will definitely taste better if you can use melted butter instead of using oil, but in the mornings, I’m usually rushing for time, so olive oil it is!
  • Texture: Because buckwheat does not contain gluten, you can actually mix the dry ingredients into the wet more vigorously and ensure that no lumps remain because they won’t turn as dense anyway. This recipe is a no-fail one, and produces fluffy pancakes all the time!
  • Serving size: This recipe makes 4 large pancakes, as pictured above.
  • Modifications: For someone new to buckwheat, I would definitely suggest starting with a smaller quantity, say 10g out of the 60g of all-purpose flour and slowly increasing the quantities until you reach 30g. At this proportions, the buckwheat does not taste too overwhelming and are just nice!
  • Storage: I’ve use this same recipe over a month, with varying amounts of different types of flour  every alternate day when I was in my pancake craze, and since the recipe made 4, I would eat two and keep 2 in the fridge. Although freshly made pancakes are definitely nicer, the ones that are stored in the fridge taste equally delicious after a 15 second zap in the microwave. Do make sure you store them in an airtight container.
  • Would I make this again?: Definitely!
Bon appétit! Pancakes go extremely well with maple syrup :]

 

12 comments

  1. Lala says:

    thks for write-up on buckwheat… am also thinking how to use them in my bakes.. like you, am not sure how i’m going to use up the large qty it’s sold in.. haiz still waiting for the time when i’m ready to take them on =P

  2. Your pancake looks so fluffy and smooth. All I need is some syrup….Slurpppp….
    Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.
    Kristy

  3. Zoe says:

    Wow! This is a very informative post. I enjoy reading all these interesting facts. I have not tried cooking with buckwheat and sorghum flours before and would love to try cooking with them one day.

  4. You’re going to laugh but I had buckwheat pancakes on the exact same plates a while back! I really like buckwheat and the flavour and texture is lovely :)

  5. Shu Han says:

    ooh thanks for the headsup on buckwheat flour. I’ve never tried it before either, though I’ve always heard of it, and it’s good to know about the grassy “Indian” flavour, and to start out small.

  6. Anh says:

    I love the flavours of buckwheat! Nice pancakes :)

  7. Deeba PAB says:

    Love your take on buckwheat. I have nmade Hiedis cookies before, a tart shell with buckwheat and yeasted buckwheat pancakes as well. It’s wonderful to look out of the wheat box, and you’ve brought everything beautifully together. {Love your blue ceramics!}

  8. lena says:

    i’ve not tried anything on buckwheat except for eating soba. I’ve not seen this flour here as far as i can remember and a little suprised to kow that you got it from an indian shop, i’m also like you, never thot that the indians use this a lot in their cooking. i also incorporate some spelt flours in my bread occasioanally but i dont know why, i cant tell the difference between not using it..maybe it’s just a small amt that i used. btw, i got those spelt flakes from an organic shop here.

  9. Those look amazing! I’ve been meaning to make buckwheat pancakes/galettes to help deal with my ridiculously overwhelming cravings for them since I got back from paris (those things were amazing and made for epic street snacking) so it would be great if you could share where you got your flour from~ thanks so much :D

  10. Janine says:

    @sonia: they are!

    @lala, zoe: glad it’s helpful :)

    @kristy: hope you have a great weekend too!

    @lorraine: what a coincidence!

    @shu han: glad it’s helpful!

    @anh: thanks :)

    @deeba: thanks for the ideas – gonna use buckwheat in tarts myself too!

    @lena: thanks for the tip – gonna hunt those spelt flakes soon!

    @penguinaffair: you can get buckwheat fairly easily at any cold storage!

  11. I love my pancakes thick!! Buckwheat?! No problem! :)

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