Monday, September 27, 2010

Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Cinnamon Syrup

Alas it has been too long since I last posted a recipe. Between a 2 week European vacation, and 2 weekends back in Minnesota, I have relied on a lot of convenient and simple eats rather than taking the time to invent, perfect or experiment with edibles. Simple bean and grain salads, pastas, steamed veggies, sandwiches, you know the drill. It’s like eating out of a lunchbox meal after meal without the time to sit down and dream up a masterpiece...or distaster. The fall is only going to get busier with weddings, visitors, more races, and holidays. So now is the time to squeeze in a post to help me feel like the creative juices are still simmering amidst the autumnal bluster.

My first experience with buckwheat pancakes was one of the most delightful eating experience one could have: after a morning that consisted of a road trip to Cleveland, TX (yes in Texas), an hour or so picking 17 pounds of organic blueberries and hopelessly scrubbing purple fingers, my sister, her other half and me with my partner in crime set out to make a dent in our fruitful berry booty. Our first blueberry blunder: buckwheat pancakes. We had them for lunch and ate so many I pretty much counted the meal as dinner too. I suppose it was actually dessert as well considering we put dark chocolate chips in half of the batch. There will always be a warm fuzzy memory of hunching over the counter, tearing apart the pancakes fresh off the griddle with our fingers and dipping them in a bowl of maple cinnamon syrup. Something about eating and standing while licking sticky pancake fingers makes the soul feel good.

So back home in Phoenix after a blustery, cold IronGirl race over the weekend that resulted in both a huge accomplishment and a huge cold, I had that kind of appetite that can only be satisfied by a certain soulful kind of grub and asked my breakfast-loving beau if he wanted me to make something before work. What shall it be? Oatmeal, scrambled tofu, pancakes? Buckwheat pancakes most definitely got the greatest, most enthusiastic response. Luckily I had a stray bag of frozen wild blueberries in the freezer. As I perused the cupboards to hunt down the maple syrup however, we of course had none. Never fear, a culinary solution is always near.

I looked up a few pancake recipes to use as a base and then (you know me) created my own. Most buckwheat pancake recipes call for regular flour in addition to buckwheat, but I was adverse for two reasons: 1) I wanted my pancakes to be gluten free, and 2) there are tiny wheat flour-loving bugs that lurk in the cupboard shadows, impervious to flour bags and even sealed jars. They don’t like gluten-free flours so I am finding myself increasingly reluctant to open up a cupboard bug crackhouse when they are not attracted by wheat alternatives. Some of the gluten free recipes called for rice flour instead of wheat, but chickpea flour is tastier and has more protein and fiber...and I had some in my flour stash. I don’t know if the xanthum gum was necessary or not, but the batter was nice and thick, holding together extremely well. If you have it, use it. If you don’t, try the recipe anyway. The syrup alone is worth it! Quick and delicious, just throw is on while your cakes are on the griddle.

Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberry Cinnamon Syrup
Makes about 8 pancakes
Total prep/cook time: 20 minutes


For the Pancakes
1 c. Almond or soy milk
1 T. Cider vinegar
1 T. Agave
1 T. Coconut oil (or other mild tasting oil)
1/2 c. Buckwheat flour
1/2 c. Chickpea flour
1 T. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Xantham gum (optional)
1 c. Blueberries, frozen or fresh (thaw and rinse if using frozen)

For the Blueberry Cinnamon Syrup
1/4 c. Raw cane sugar
1/4 c. Water
3/4 c. Blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Cinnamon stick or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Toppings options: Brown sugar, walnuts, flax seeds, fresh bananas


For the Pancakes: In a small bowl, mix the milk and cider vinegar and set aside to curdle while preparing the rest of the mix. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk together. Add coconut oil and agave to milk mixture and stir into dry mix. Be careful not to overmix! That way you’ll have fluffy pancakes. Heat griddle or pan over medium-high heat. When ready to cook pancakes, reduce heat slightly. Using a 1/4 cup measuring scoop, ladle the batter onto the pan. When pancakes start to bubble slightly flip and cook on the other side until golden brown.

For the Syrup: Heat sugar, water and blueberries in a small sauce pan over high heat. When bubbling reduce heat to medium and let cook until liquid has thickened and reduced to 2/3 cup, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer syrup to a small bowl and grate 1/4 of the cinnamon stick over mixutre or mix ground cinnamon into the syrup. Add a touch of agave to taste if there is not enough liquid or if you would like a sweeter syrup.

To assemble: Top 2-3 pancakes with 1/4 cup of syrup, 1-2 T. chopped walnuts or flax seeds, and a pinch of brown sugar if desired. Add fresh bananas if preferred.