Post by Alison Hein.
Buckwheat, despite its name, is more closely related to sorrel and rhubarb than to wheat. In the usual way of confusing food etymology, the plant’s misleading name is derived from the Dutch “boecweite” or German “Buchweizen,” meaning “beech wheat.” The triangular seeds resembled the much larger seed of the beech nut, and the plant was used as a substitute for wheat in cooking and baking.
Cultivated and popularized around the globe, buckwheat was a common crop in the USduring the 18th and 19th centuries. The introduction of nitrogen fertilizer in the early 20th century led to an increase in corn and wheat production, and a sad but equal decrease in buckwheat cultivation. According to Wikipedia, more than one million acres of buckwheat were harvested in the United States in 1918, and by 1964, only 50,000 acres were grown.
Buckwheat is gluten-free and has an earthy, nut-like flavor and a deep richness. This good old-fashioned recipe for Buckwheat Pancakes calls for a cup of white flour – simply use two full cups of buckwheat flour if you want to keep it gluten-free. I like to separate the eggs and fold the beaten whites into the batter for a fluffier texture. If you’re in a hurry, simply beat the eggs into the batter. The cakes may be a little flatter but their griddled goodness will remain for an old-fashioned breakfast in bed that’s due for a revival.
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus additional butter for cooking
2 tablespoons honey
Combine buckwheat flour, white flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate bowl, stir together milk and egg yolks. Pour melted butter and honey into liquid mixture and stir well. Using a wooden spoon or hand mixer, gradually add liquid mixture to dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter.
Place pan or griddle on burner over medium to medium-low heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first pancake. Ladle batter by ¼ cupfuls into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancakes. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until rich brown, one to two minutes, adding more butter and adjusting heat as necessary. Keep warm while making the remainder of pancakes. Serve hot with real maple syrup.
Makes 8 to 10 4-inch diameter pancakes.