Heavenly Sourdough Buckwheat Pancakes

May 27, 2011 in Recipes | 59 comments


sourdough buckwheat pancakes

Stephan Guyenet posted a recipe for sourdough buckwheat pancakes a while back. Since I’m always looking for new things to put butter and cream on, I thought I’d give it a try. The results were adequate, but I had a couple of issues:

  • No matter how much fat I put in the pan, I couldn’t keep the crepes from sticking
  • They were a bit too dense and bland for my taste

Since then, my wife Elanne and I (foodies that we are) have been experimenting with ways to improve Stephan’s basic recipe. And after several weeks of trial and error, I think we’ve achieved sourdough buckwheat pancake nirvana!

Why sourdough buckwheat?

As most of you know, I consider improperly prepared cereal grains to be one of the 4 food toxins responsible for the modern epidemic of disease.

With that in mind, some of you might be wondering why I’m posting a recipe for buckwheat pancakes.

First, it’s important to understand that despite its name, buckwheat is not even a distant relative of wheat. In fact, buckwheat isn’t a cereal grain at all. Cereal grains like wheat, rye, barley, etc. are in the monocot family. Buckwheat is a dicot. It’s the seed of the fagopyrum plant, which is in the same family as sorrel and rhubarb. So it would be more accurate to refer to buckwheat as a seed than a grain.

Second, as you’ll see below, the preparation method Stephan and I suggest involves fermentation to create a natural sourdough batter. While buckwheat does have a significant amount of phytic acid, a nutrient inhibitor, it also has a lot of phytase – the enzyme needed to break down phytic acid. Studies show that fermented buckwheat batters contain very little phytic acid.

So, although I don’t recommend grains in general, I think that buckwheat (especially sourdough) is well tolerated and not a problem for most people.

The recipe

Step one

  • 1 C buckwheat
  • 2 C water

The amount of liquid you add in the second step will vary. I add enough for it to blend easily into a relatively thick batter. You can also vary the amount of liquid (eggs and milk or water) added in the third step for making thicker pancakes. This recipe makes relatively thin pancakes.

Place buckwheat in a bowl, cover with a plate or towel and soak for 2 – 24 hours.

Step two

After soaking strain water off buckwheat and rinse. It will be very mucilaginous. Put buckwheat in blender with another 1/3 to 1/2 c of water. Blend until smooth.

Rinse out bowl that buckwheat was soaking in and add the blended mixture back to the bowl. Cover and let sit for another 12 to 24 hours.

Step three

Put a non-stick or cast iron pan on the burner over medium to medium high heat and let the pan heat up while you are mixing up the batter. The secret to cooking pancakes is to make sure the pan gets hot before you add the batter.

Add to buckwheat batter:

  • 1 whole egg beaten
  • 2 egg whites whipped to stiff peaks
  • 1/2 c milk (or unsweetened almond milk or water)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Note: the whipped egg whites increase the fluffiness and volume and make these more like pancakes. You can omit them and use 2-3 whole beaten eggs instead, but what you’ll get will be more like crepes than pancakes.

Mix in the wet ingredients. Then sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the surface of the batter and thoroughly mix it in.

Make sure the pan is hot and add a generous amount of fat (ghee, coconut oil, lard etc) to the pan. When fat is shimmering ladle pancake batter into the pan. Allow pancakes to cook almost all the way through before flipping. You can either continue to add fat before each new pancake or not. With more fat the pancakes are almost like fritters, with less they are more like typical pancakes.

Step four
Top with fruit, butter, kefir cream, whipped cream, coconut butter or coconut milk. You can also add a small amount of honey if you don’t have blood sugar issues, but I find they are sweet enough with the fruit alone.

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa May 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

Imma let you finish, but my buckwheat pancakes are the best in the whole world! The whole world!

I soak my buckwheat flour in full-fat yogurt for some hours, fold in some eggs, and cook in ghee. Soooo good.

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Jen Jen June 2, 2011 at 12:34 am

LOL – If I’d been drinking liquid when I read this it would have shot out my nose. Unexpected use of “Imma let you finish, but…” pleases me greatly. :D

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Shamra June 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Mmm!! The yogurt sounds like a great idea! I’m definitely going to have to try that out.

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Nutritionizt May 27, 2011 at 10:16 am

I’m a fan of buckwheat. Whenever consuming it, I always soak a bowl overnight in an acidic medium, usually with apple cider vinegar.

Taking whole buckwheat and chopping coarsely in a spice grinder is a great way to alter the texture and provide a more porridge-esque dish.

I will definitely be trying this recipe. Thanks, guys!

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Anthony DiSante May 27, 2011 at 10:21 am

Thanks for posting this; we’ll definitely try it. But what about just using buckwheat flour? It’d be so much less work, but I assume that it’s full of the phytic acid that you mentioned, right? Is this merely a nutrient inhibitor as you said, or does it actually do damage to the body?

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Chris Kresser May 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

I agree with Diane’s response.

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Susan May 27, 2011 at 10:48 am

Thanks for the recipe. I hope you will post more in the future :-)
No need to soak the buckwheat in an acidic medium?

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Chris Kresser May 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

According to the studies Stephan linked to, no. But it couldn’t hurt.

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Diane @ Balanced Bites May 27, 2011 at 11:00 am

Chris-

I love when you go rogue and eat grains (or pseudo-grains)… :)

@Anthony- you can also soak the flour itself (since you’re going to make it into a batter anyway) but personally I’d rather see you do more of that processing in your own kitchen to avoid more possibly cross-contamination from processing the flour down.

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Primal toad May 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Damn! I’m so happy that I have become so open minded recently. Just a month ago I would have dismissed this recipe. Guess what? I’ll be bookmarking it in a second. I just need to buy some buckwheat. Any recommendations to online sources? Thanks for posting this. I’m all over it.

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Melissa B. June 6, 2011 at 8:19 am

This company is excellent: http://rawfromthefarm.com/Grains.aspx

All organic ingredients, and the quality and taste of their items are always superb.

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khwarezmid May 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I also had problems with sticking when I used stephan’s recipe. However, if you let the pan and oil get decently hot before putting the batter in, and then turn it down to low heat to steam, you can avoid any sticking.

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Squeaky Gourmet May 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I love the idea of crepes with this recipe! Thank you!

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Torea May 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Chris,

Do you use whole buckwheat with the hull still on (inferring that you are sprouting it prior to grinding), or buckwheat groats or kasha (roasted groats)?

Thanks for a great idea and breakfast alternative!

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Chris Kresser May 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Buckwheat groats.

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Catherine May 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Thanks for perfecting the recipe. I will try it out sunday it will be a nice surprise for the family.
In Brittany, France the traditionnal way to eat a buckweat crepes is to top it with butter a sunny side up egg that you cook on top of the crepe, cheese and real ham ( not processed).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AimapwQd0MQ

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pjnoir May 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm

And doin’t forget to use those two egg yolks. If you get REAL farm fresh pastured eggs, they are great in raw milk with a bit of vanilla whey protein, tatse just like egg nog. But please use those two yolks

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Nutritionizt May 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I should’ve asked this question in my first comment, but forgot to do so.

Do you know if phytic acid is destroyed in water, so that we can still use the soak water when cooking? Or does the water simply draw out the phytic acid in grains, rendering the water not safe for consumption?

I always discard the water, but wasn’t sure if that was necessary. If you have any input, I’d appreciate it! Thank you.

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Chris Masterjohn May 28, 2011 at 9:59 am

I’m with Melissa. I haven’t tried it as a variation of this recipe specifically, but I think soaking pancake batter in yogurt instead of water overnight makes them super-delicious. I wonder how it affects the phytate, thought it would seem to me to be likely to promote anti-nutrient neutralization and overall digestiblity at least as well as water (total guess). Thanks for the recipe!

Chris

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misterworms May 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

I didn’t know this about buckwheat – good news for a Polish person wanting to avoid grains for the most part. Once in a while I like to have some type of butter vehicle as you mention and these sound like they fit the bill.

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Hannah May 28, 2011 at 11:44 am

I’ve had trouble making successful buckwheat pancakes so this is such a great resource. Thanks!

Lately I have been soaking and sprouting buckwheat groats, then soaking those sprouts overnight with water and a little whey. I then cook this up in the morning as a porridge- it’s really delicious. I initially always made a sweet porridge, with banana, cinnamon and coconut but I tried making it savory and it’s even better. Some sea salt, hot sauce, green onion, butter and top with a couple of eggs, my favorite breakfast lately.

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Kris May 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Thanks for the buckwheat pancake recipe. The recipe is very similar to Finnish pancakes which I absolutely love but have been avoiding since they contain regular wheat flour. Finnish pancakes are more like crepes.They don’t contain baking soda, instead it has a tablespoon or 2 of oil. The oil makes the pancakes creamier and also keeps the pancakes from sticking. I’m gonna make them with buckwheat and use the traditional 3 eggs instead of the 1 egg plus egg whites. Traditionally Finnish pancakes are eaten with lingonberries or cloudberries. Thanks for the ideas for making them savory. We’ll be having many yummy weekend breakfasts!

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Vic May 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Buckwheat is an excellent source of rutin, an important bioflavonoid for small blood vessels and collagen, which is why I use it in our NutriPlex formulas. I’m also glad you pointed out that buckwheat is not related to wheat. It is gluten-free and highly nutritious.

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jean finch May 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm

We have been eating buckwheat as cereal(after soaking) and have really liked quinoa or wild rice better.We add blueberries, coconut, pumkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and raw milk! It makes a great morning sunday. I think we will love the sourdough pancake idea and I have started the soaking of the buckwheat as we speak!
Thanks again!
Jean

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Sue May 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm

How do you feel about coconut flour pancakes?

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Chris Kresser May 29, 2011 at 8:12 am

They’re fine – but a lot of people have trouble digesting coconut flour because it has so much fiber.

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alex May 29, 2011 at 7:49 am

We read in Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution that the mucilaginous by-product is from saponfication – which irritates the gut. We’ve been pretty neurotic about doing mulitple rinsings. It also helps with the yield a better pancake for us. Sorry, if this is self-evident ; it wasn’t clear to me from the recipe.

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Kerrick May 29, 2011 at 10:02 am

Buckwheat greens can cause increased sensitivity to sun in some livestock, a condition called fagopyrism—hasn’t been reported in humans that I know of, but presumably the sprouted buckwheat contains very little of whatever toxin it is that causes this.

@Torea if I’m understanding you right… I have never had trouble sprouting hulled raw buckwheat groats. I also make cereal out of them for when I’m missing my quick breakfast—sprout raw hulled buckwheat groats, dust them with cinnamon, and dry them over my oven’s pilot light. They make a crunchy cold cereal (which I like), a good hot cereal, or a nice snack in general.

Quick question—is it beneficial, or even possible, to avoid the use of baking soda in this by increasing the amount of sourdough starter?

@Alex Terrific, now I can make pancakes and soap!

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Torea May 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm

@Chris: I just have to post a rave review of this recipe. I used/soaked buckwheat flour overnight since that is what I had on hand – (another batch is soaking still for another day or two, I typically like my sourdough’s pretty sour). We made ours almost to the letter, though I added a sprinkle or two of cinnamon into the batter, with ghee and then topped with butter and berries from this morning’s market. Truly heavenly and quite a vehicle for butter :) Certainly a nice dish for a sunday brunch! Thanks so much!

@Kerrick: thanks for the tips. I ordered some buckwheat groats so I can sprout/grind them myself. This is how I would prefer to do it. I’ll also try your method when I am looking for more of a cereal type breakfast to mix things up.

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Susan May 30, 2011 at 12:51 am

Another question… could you use the same recipe and use millet, quinoa, amaranth or teff instead?

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Chris Kresser May 30, 2011 at 8:34 am

You could, but they all have different properties. Corn, millet, oats and brown rice do not contain sufficient phytase to eliminate all the phytic acid they contain. So even if you soak them, they will still contain relatively high amounts of phytic acid. To completely remove the phytic acid from quinoa, you have to soak for 24 hours, germinate (sprout) for 30 hours, lacto-ferent for 16-18 hours, then cook for 25 minutes. Keep in mind that it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate phytic acid from our diet; the goal is to minimize it. I think buckwheat and white rice are the best tolerated of the grains/pseudo-grains, which is why I recommend them. I see a lot of people have trouble with millet, quinoa, amaranth and teff – especially if they’re not prepared properly.

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Peter June 1, 2011 at 2:57 am

Stephan writes about a simple method to remove 96% or more of the phytic acid from brown rice here:

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-way-to-soak-brown-rice.html

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Michael Carter May 30, 2011 at 4:12 am

You can get specialty grains on this site:
http://www.howeseeds.com/index.html
I don’t see buckwheat, but I am sending his wife the recipe.
I am sure Charles will be able to get some.
Bobs Red Mill has several selections:
http://www.bobsredmill.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

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Cathryn May 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

These are great and I am so full! I was excited to see that the recipe made 14 pancakes (using a 1/4 cup measure for the batter). I figured my husband and I would eat them all, but no can do, although he’s still working on it. I asked him to save me 2 for lunch so I can have a “hamburger”. I added 1 tsp. of raw cider vinegar to the soaking batter and could have added more because I like them more sour. They needed a bit more salt for my taste, maybe slightly less than 1/4 tsp. for the whole recipe. I can imagine these being used crepe style for all sorts of savory items. You and your wife are geniuses! Thank you both!

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simona May 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Hi Chris (Kresser)
re Chris M’s comment. It seems to me that it’s important to get rid of the soaking/fermenting medium, so soaking it in yoghurt it’s not really recommended, unless you throw the yoghurt away. Am I getting this right?
Thanks.

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simona May 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I’m talking about the first step of your recipe.

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Stephan Guyenet June 1, 2011 at 11:46 am

Cool! I’ll have to try this.

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Josh June 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Although “I Eat Mostly Meat” I used to have a famous waffle recipe back in my grain eating days. I’m going to have to see if I can make these into waffles. That is about the only grain dish I miss, well and, beer… but that is fermented Right?

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Erik Cisler June 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Does the rinsing water need to be de-chlorinated, or is tap water okay?

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Chris Kresser June 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

De-chlorinated would be better, but I think tap water will still have the same effect.

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Erik Cisler June 2, 2011 at 10:22 am

Thanks, Chris.

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garfinkel June 3, 2011 at 9:15 am

Wow, These came out amazing. Thanks!

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Pierre June 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

Just made this recipe and I must say that they are great. I made the ”crêpe” version with 3 whole eggs and the kids loved them. Often, in gluten free baking, there is tradeoff in either texture or taste compared to the ”real” version, but not in this case. The smell from the pan was wonderful and it gave the impression that sugar was added to the mix. Thanks

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Terry Paulding June 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Chris, we used your recipe for crepes for our 80-guest baby shower. I made a bunch and kinda “winged it” on the recipe–but here’s what I did per 3 cups of sourdough mix, I added 6 whole eggs, 1/3 cup grape seed oil, 1 tsp. salt (these were savory crepes, and they seemed to need the salt) and enough milk to make it create lacy crepes. They were gorgeous! Filled with a mix of chard (salted and drained, not cooked first), feta, Jack and sauteed onions, and then folded into packets and griddled before serving.

I also used some of the left-over sourdough mix in a zucchini-scallion fritter recipe last night, just a bit, enough to hold things together and the outside got a great crunchy finish, so I’m LOVING this stuff. Next stop, breakfast pancakes!

Question: how long will the fermented mixkeep, and does it need to be kept open air (towel on top) to stay alive?

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Chris Kresser June 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Once you’ve reached the desired level of fermentation, you can put it in the fridge and it will last 3-4 days or maybe a bit longer.

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Sandra Brigham June 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I don’t know a scientific answer to this, but my leftover starter stayed in the fridge an extra 3 days and smelled fine when I finished it off this morning. The only thing I noticed was a discoloration on the top – a slight black color. No mold though. The 3 days of refrigeration didn’t affect texture or taste. Sourdough bread starter gets refrigerated so I tend to think you’d want to refrigerate buckwheat starter. I keep thinking of what happens when grains go bad – moldy – and how ill you can get from it. Remember the Salem witch hunt – moldy rye… Stephan says to refrigerate after..see here http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/07/real-food-xi-sourdough-buckwheat-crepes.html. After reading his article, I now need to find the buckwheat flatbread recipe!

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Sandra Brigham June 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Cool! I grew up eating ployes which are buckwheat pancakes that look more like crepes than pancakes. In the old days, mom would buy straight buckwheat flour and add water and baking powder and let sit for 5 minutes before cooking. So I was delighted to know buckwheat was ok to have! Buckwheat is grown in my home-town of Fort Kent, ME. The flowers are yellow and so the buckwheat is yellow instead of the brown groats I bought at WF since I’m outside of Boston.

I soaked the groats for 2 hrs and fermented for 18 hrs. I usedn 3 eggs instead of 1 egg & egg whites and omitted the vanilla as I was going to use them crepe-style.

The recipe is wonderful! Make sure you let the cast iron skillet get real hot (drops of water should sizzle on the skillet when ready). Leave the temp high. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to drop into center of pan. NO fat should be added to the skillet, else it will stick. You must let the whole pancake form and pop their air bubbles all the way from the outside to the inside before you flip it over. So 90% of the cooking takes place on one side and only 10% on the other side.

Make ahead and refrigerate for breakfast. Reheat briefly in skillet and top with one ounce of Cretons – french pig’s headcheese that is has plenty of protein and saturated fat. One serving is 2 oz, so I spread one ounce per crepe. Voila! Fast breakfast, snack, dessert even. Very filling!

I had enough batter leftover to put in the fridge for the next day. Wow! The batter had really fermented and was all nice and fluffy. For this batch, I replaced the baking soda with baking powder (aluminum-free) and they were a bit more fluffy. I will now always have buckwheat starter in the fridge.

Wonderful to put fresh garden berries in too. I also made a chicken/basil/arugula/home-made mayo rollup with it. I’ll be trying it taco-style too!

Thanks yet again for a great post! By the way, are soba noodles, which are buckwheat right?, paleo?

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Sandra Brigham June 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm

And we did a cost analysis – 21 cents per slice of Nature’s Pride bread (HFCS free) that DH and adult son insist on having and 17 cents per ploye using 3 eggs. My maternal grandmother fed her 21 children with ployes and my paternal grandmother fed her 18 kids with ployes.

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Eimear July 16, 2011 at 7:55 am

The flour isn’t soaked or fermented when making soba, so they wouldn’t be an optimal choice. The most paleo friendly noodle sub is spaghetti squash or courgette/zucchini noodles. Some people recommend kelp noodles or seaweed spaghetti, I have never tried but as the paleo diet can be a little low in iodine it might be a good choice (as long as you don’t have thyroid issues).

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Benjamin Morgan June 11, 2011 at 9:05 am

Just made these for the first time. They were amazing! Thank you for sharing Chris (and Stephan).

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Steph June 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I made pancakes with buckwheat flour during the SAD old days, and they came out excessively…grainy. They became our household’s benchmark for bad pancakes. We never throw out food, but that day we made an exception.

Does the soaking and fermentation eliminate this problem?

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Chris Kresser June 14, 2011 at 9:04 am

Yes. This is not buckwheat flour, anyways. It’s a batter made from whole, fermented buckwheat groats. Very different.

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Steph June 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I made them! These were fantastic and we loved every bite! Thank you!!!

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Steph June 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

Sweet! We’ll give ‘em a go. Thanks!

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Brian June 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Is it ok to soak the groats in buttermilk or is water the best choice? How about for step 2?

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Chris Kresser July 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

You can soak in yogurt, whey, kefir, buttermilk or water.

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Dani July 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

Hi, Not sure what went wrong- but these turned out with a super bitter aftertaste (not just bitter, but like “poison” bitter). I soaked for 24 hours, rinsed super well, fermented for 24 hours. The batter smelled yeasty-grainy and was bubbly after fermentation. The texture was great and they cooked up perfectly. The first couple of chew tasted good, but then the bitter taste came up. Inedible! My kitchen was warm, do you think I soaked/fermented too long? Or, is this how they are supposed to taste? I don’t have a lot of experience with buckwheat, so not sure.
Thanks.

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Chris Kresser July 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

Try fermenting for only 8 hours after a 24 hour soak.

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Taylor July 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Thanks so much for posting this fantastic recipe!
I made a couple of changes, and they made for a super fluffy pancake:
1/4 c. instead of 1/2 c. almond milk, increased baking soda to 1/2 tsp, and I used one of the saved egg yolks rather than a whole egg in addition to the beaten egg whites. I had some rice sourdough starter that I added to increase the microbial action overnight. I also think the suggestion of using kefir or yogurt to ferment the batter would be delicious (per some of the recommendations above).
Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge via your site and podcast!

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