Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Healthy Buckwheat Pancakes by Cleo Coyle #glutenfree #dairyfree

Excuse me? Buckwheat is not wheat? That's right...

I grew up on buckwheat pancakes (as did my husband), and we both enjoy the nutty, hearty flavor buckwheat brings to the breakfast table. Despite its name, buckwheat is not any kind of wheat. This healthy, ancient grain comes from a fruit seed via a plant that's related to rhubarb.

Buckwheat flour is naturally gluten free and contains a significant amount of fiber. Studies have shown that it helps slow down the rate of glucose absorption after a meal, making it a "low GI" carb. And buckwheat brings nutrition to the table. It's a good source of protein, calcium, and minerals. Read more here.

Above are two examples of buckwheat flour that I purchased in New York. 
On the left is the Hodgson Mill brand, which was sold in the baking aisle. 
On the right is Bob's Red Mill brand, which was sold in the health food aisle. 
You can buy them online, as well.
Buckwheat also makes a nice addition to muffins, quick breads, and yeast breads. For my taste, I would not recommend using 100% buckwheat flour. The flavor is too strong and the color of the final product too dark. What I do instead is substitute 30% to 50% of the standard flour for buckwheat flour. This is a great way to add fiber, nutrition, as well as a slightly nutty, earthy complexity to your favorite recipes. And speaking of recipes, I'm delighted to share my buckwheat pancake recipe with you below...

May you flip with joy! 
~ Cleo 

Cleo Coyle is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries.
Learn more here.
Cleo Coyle's

When I bite into a buckwheat pancake, I always feel as if I've been transported to a log cabin in the wintry woods. 

My husband (and partner in crime writing) is not a guy who has much fondness for "health foods," but even he agrees with me on buckwheat. The hearty, earthy, slightly nutty flavor makes for good eats. 

My pancake recipe below carries a subtle buckwheat flavor. If you'd like a stronger flavor simply increase the amount of buckwheat while decreasing the same amount of flour. For example, you can switch the ratios and try 3/4 cup buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose white flour (or gluten-free or white whole wheat flour).

There are plenty of other ways to experiment with my basic recipe, and I've given you options for gluten-free and dairy-free versions, as well. 

May you eat with joy
and in good health!

~ Cleo

How to make this recipe:

*Dairy Free: Replace the butter in the ingredient list with canola oil or coconut oil and replace the cow's milk with almond milk or another nut milk. Buckwheat adds a nutty flavor to the pancake, and a nut milk will pair nicely with that flavor.

*Gluten Free: Replace the all-purpose flour in the ingredient list with brown rice flour. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or potato starch to the recipe. Make sure your other ingredients are gluten free, including the baking powder and vanilla.

To download this recipe in a 
free PDF document you can 
print, save, or share, click here

For PDF, click here.

Yields 5 pancakes about 5-inches in diameter


2 eggs

2 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
   (*or canola or coconut oil)

3/4 cups whole or low fat cow’s milk
       (*or almond or other nut milk)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons white, granulated sugar (or equivalent of other sweetener)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (or a pinch of table salt)

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

3/4 cups all-purpose white flour or "white whole wheat" flour
       (*or brown rice flour)

 (+ for gluten free: add 1 T. corn starch or potato starch)


Step 1 - One bowl mixing method: Break eggs into the bowl and whisk. Add the melted and cooled butter (or oil), milk, vanilla extract, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Whisk well, until smooth and he baking powder is fully incorporated. Measure in the buckwheat and flour. (If making a gluten free recipe, add your corn starch or potato starch now.) 

Stir until all flours are incorporated and consider thickness. Depending on your climate and the weather, the batter may be too thick at this point. If so, add a bit more milk (I usually add 1 more tablespoon). Stir and continue to adjust until the batter is pourable but still thick. Do not make the batter too thin or the pancakes won’t have enough structure and substance. (See my photo below...)

Step 2 – Cooking the perfect pancake: If your pancakes are too small and thin, they'll be crusty and tough instead of fluffy and tender. If too big and thick, they won't cook through. Here's what I do to get the perfect pancake. This method will help you keep each pancake a consistent size, as well...

(a) Pre-heat: Pre-heat a nonstick griddle or skillet. If you have a good quality nonstick griddle or pan (and there is absolutely no residue on the surface), you will see prettier results without using grease. Butter, cooking spray, and oil all produce mottled surfaces on your pancakes. If you have an older pan or it does not have a nonstick surface, lightly grease with butter, oil, or spray.

(b) Pour: Using a measuring cup, pour ¼ cup of batter onto pre-heated griddle (do not try to get every drop of batter out of the cup, this is a quick pour and some of the batter will remain stuck to the sides of the cup, that's okay). Immediately pour ¼ cup more right on top of the first pour. The pancake batter should spread into a perfect circle, about five inches in diameter. 

(c) Flip and finish: When you see bubbles begin to form on pancake’s top, it’s ready to flip. Carefully slip your spatula under the pancake and gently flip it over. Cook on the other side and serve.

Culinary pairing note: These pancakes are fantastic with blackberries. The two flavors together are out of this world!

To download the free PDF
of this recipe,
click here.

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

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  1. Thanks, Cleo! Congrats, Peg!

    You know, I haven't had buckwheat in ages. I have so many other GF flours I use, but you've inspired me to go back. I love the rustic look of the flour, so much "browner" (and mentally healthier) looking than the GF tapioca and rice flours I use. :) Love pancakes. Actually I love syrup. LOL

    Daryl / Avery

    1. Daryl/Avery - Congrats again on the release of INHERIT THE WORD, and cheers on your signing at MYSTERIOUS GALAXY BOOKSTORE this Saturday in Redondo Beach. What a wonderful bookstore. Have a great time!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Yes, indeed--pancakes for dinner today. Just on principle more than anything else.

    I have a buckwheat pancake story. Years back, we went to IHOP and I thought it would be a treat to get the buckwheat pancakes. They tasted like dog kibble! (Why, you may ask, does she now what dog kibble tastes like? I was a child once, OK?) I don't know what the restaurant did, but they were inedible.
    I think I should use your recipe to get that old taste out of my mental mouth.

    1. Libby - LOL, I can't speak to your IHOP experience. But I think you're making my point for me because, as I mentioned in my post, buckwheat flour needs to be balanced with other flours and flavors in a recipe for the best results! That's what I've done for this recipe, and you can see the results in my pictures. The pancakes are not too dark, and the flavor is balanced. Marc couldn't stop eating them and he's not a guy who'll take a second bite of anything if it tastes like...well, health food. :) I don't blame him. While I like to eat right, I also think if a food or meal is not appealing in the way it tastes and even looks, it doesn't matter much if it's healthy for me. If I don't like it, I won't be looking forward to eating it again and again. And if I'm going to make daily improvements in my diet for nutrition and health, then I sure and shootin' better include dishes that I want to make again and again!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Dog kibble, yuck! but I love buckwheat pancakes Cleo, thanks for the reminder. Must try this week:).

    Happy book launch day to Daryl and Peg/Meg--here's wishing you many sales! xo

    1. Lucy/Roberta - Thanks for the buckwheat thumbs up. As I said to Libby, if a dish isn't appealing to me in taste and appearance, it's not something I'll put in my regular diet, even if it is healthy!

      This recipe for buckwheat pancakes really does balance things and brings some nice nutrition to the meal as well as that wonderful nutty, earthy "log cabin" nuance to the pancakes. Marc agrees, thank goodness, because he's not easy to please and simply will not eat anything that tastes like "health food." :)

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. Cleo, I did not know that buckwheat isn't wheat. I am very literal, I guess. Thanks so much for that info and for this super recipe. I can't wait to try it. And happy 'pancake Tuesday to you and Marc!

    1. Thanks so much, MJ, and we send our very best Mardi Gras Pancake wishes to you, too. May you flip with joy!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Yum, Buckwheat pancakes!!!! When I was a young teenager, my family spent the weekend in the mountains.....it was cold and crisp and we ate breakfast in the large lodge there. I ordered Buckwheat pancakes with blueberry syrup. It was so delicious that I remember them to this day - and I am in my late 60's!!!!! Thanks for the recipe and the memories.

  6. I don't think I've ever tried buckwheat pancakes. You've inspired me, Cleo.

    And Libby, that's a terrible experience. In my family, a couple of people have tried the cat kibble!


  7. Isn't buckwheat flour what goes into blinis? I know I made them quite a few times, but so long ago I don't remember. These pancakes look heavenly! Perfect for Fat Tuesday!