And then there were the times that we had them for dinner. It happened very rarely, but it always felt a bit decadent when we did. It was such a deviation from the normal type of evening meal in our house, and seemed so casual and care-free by comparison.
I can only imagine that it represented a much-needed break in the routine for Mom, given the amount of cooking she did all the time.
The few times I did actually have pancakes for breakfast as a young person occurred away from home and left an indelible memory. My dear Aunt MJ would on occasion take us to IHOP as a special treat for breakfast or brunch.
It was there that I first heard of buckwheat pancakes, since she’d order a stack for herself every time we went. She loved IHOP and was a loyal customer just because of those specialty pancakes. And over time, I came to love them as much as she did.
Now let me explain a little about buckwheat. To begin with, it is not even wheat at all, but a relative of the rhubarb family, so buckwheat flour happens to be naturally gluten free for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. (Be sure to check for products that are labeled as gluten free, since some brands contain wheat flour).
Second, it has double the protein content of regular pancake flour, which is probably because it comes from a fruit seed; seeds are incredibly nutrient- dense, protein-packed little foods.
And third, it’s also an excellent source of fiber, unlike the white flour usually used in pancake mixes.
And it takes no time at all to cook up a large batch of pancakes if you have a good sized griddle that can make 8 or more at a time, as we did when I was growing up.
When my boys were at home, I would use two griddles, taking up all the burners on my stove. Breaking with Mom’s custom, I served pancakes, French toast, or waffles every weekend morning, and whenever we were on vacation.
But like Mom, I occasionally served them for dinner, too. I would cook up a big batch and save the leftovers for snacks or breakfasts later in the week. My boys usually polished them off within a couple of days.
I particularly liked them because they are good, solid nutrition for any meal or snack in an easy-to-serve format, so that even a young child can reheat and enjoy them on their own.
These buckwheat cakes cook up light, fluffy and delicious. And although the buckwheat flour is quite a bit more expensive than regular wheat flour, it still makes for an economical meal.
I have found that Walmart carries a reasonably priced buckwheat flour, as do some on-line sites, and I've also been able to get it on sale at my local grocery store. When that happens, I'll buy an extra pound or two and store it in my freezer.
This recipe makes 16 large pancakes, or enough to feed 4-6 people for about $4, or $1 per person, including the premium price you pay for buckwheat flour over wheat flour.
For the protein addicts out there, you can up the protein content of these pancakes – or any meal for that matter – by adding a couple of tablespoons of flaxseed flour or wheat germ. But, really, they provide enough protein, as is, for most of us.
You can opt to serve the pancakes with just melted margarine or butter and maple flavored syrup (not real maple syrup, which is priced in the stratosphere), which keeps it extremely budget conscious at about $1.25 per serving, or you can follow my serving suggestion for a yogurt and fruit topping.
I don't recommend using Greek style yogurts, due to their cost and also because they're too thick in consistency for this purpose. Use full fat versions of your store brand, or Dannon, or the Aldi brand for about $1.35-$1.50 per pound, less than half of what Greek costs.
I also like to serve these pancakes with a side of either Citrus Fruit Slaw or a Carrot Raisin Salad with ginger yogurt dressing. With those sides, the meal comes in at around $8 for 16 pancakes or 4-8 servings. A very delicious and very different economy meal for hectic times.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 16 large pancakes (4-8 servings)
Prep Time - Approximately 20 minutes
Start to Finish Time - Approximately 25-30 minutes
Cost of the recipe with yogurt and fruit topping - Approximately $6
Per person cost of the meal with a side of fruit slaw or carrot and raisin salad - Approximately $2
Both batter and pancakes freeze well
For the Pancakes:
2 cups buckwheat flour (or, if desired, any combination of buckwheat flour and regular flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs (or you can substitute ¼- ½ cup of apple sauce)
1¾ -2 cups buttermilk** (thicker batter makes thicker pancakes, thinner batter makes thinner pancakes)
2-4 tablespoons flaxseed flour or wheat germ (optional)
1-3 tablespoons oil (for the griddle or pan)
**You can make your own buttermilk by stirring 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of vinegar into the milk and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes. Refer to the pictures below. Then use it in the recipe as described below.
For the Topping:
1-6 tablespoons margarine or butter
1-6 tablespoons maple-flavored pancake syrup
½ -1½ cups plain yogurt
½-1 cup of cut up fruit of your choice (orange, tangerine, apple, etc.) (optional)
- Mix the 2 cups of flour, the 2 teaspoons of baking powder, the 2 teaspoons of baking soda, and the ½ teaspoon of salt together in a bowl. If you are using flaxseed flour or wheat germ, then add and mix them now, as well.
- Beat the 2 eggs in a bowl.
- Add the 1¾ -2 cups of milk to the eggs and beat together.
- Stir the eggs and buttermilk into the flour mixture.
- Mix the ingredients together, but just enough to moisten. Don't worry if there are lumps. That's fine.
- Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Spread the oil with a spatula as it heats up.
- It’s important that the oil be good and hot, but not scorching, for the pancakes to turn out right. In fact, the key to cooking pancakes is to make sure your frying pan or griddle is hot enough before adding the batter. One way to tell if it’s ready is to wet your fingers and shake the water droplets on the hot pan. The droplets should bead up and roll right off the surface.
- When the oil is hot, use a ¼-cup measuring cup to ladle batter for each pancake onto the griddle or pan.
- Don’t worry about it if they are not perfectly round. Even at this stage of my life, I often end up with a batch or two of pancakes that are decidedly less than circular in shape. Adding a bit of extra flour (¼ cup) to the batter to thicken it a bit can help prevent this. But even if the individual pancakes run together somewhat, it's not a big deal. You can simply use the spatula to separate them when the time comes to turn them.
- Let the pancakes cook until bubbles appear over most of the surface of the pancake, and the edges begin to appear dry. This will take about 1 -2 minutes.
- Turn the pancakes carefully and allow them to cook and brown on the other side for about another minute.
- Remove the pancakes from the pan and onto a plate. If it’s going to be a while before you eat, cover them and place them in a warm oven until you are ready to serve them.
- Meanwhile, put the 1-6 tablespoons of margarine or butter into a microwaveable bowl. Add the 1-6 tablespoons of pancake syrup.
- Cut up and add ½-1 cup of any kind of cut up fruit that you’d like to this mix, such as oranges, tangerines, apples, etc. One option I like to use are tangerines or oranges that have sat too long and are a little dried out, or apples that are a little bruised. This topping is the perfect way to make use of those less-than-perfect fruits so you don't have to throw them out.
- Cover the bowl and microwave the mixture for 30 seconds or so, until the butter is melted and the fruit is somewhat softened.
- Stir together well.
- You can drizzle this as is over the pancakes when you serve them, OR you can add the ½ -1½ cups of yogurt to the butter and syrup and beat it all together with a fork or whisk, and spoon some over the pancakes.
- Serve the pancakes with Citrus Fruit Slaw with Maple and Balsamic Yogurt Dressing, if desired.