Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blueberry Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes

I could write a thesis on pancakes. I feel very strongly about them, as to me they are one of the most abused, poorly made breakfast items around. When they're good, there's nothing better. When they're bad, you find yourself desperately adding more syrup and/or butter, practically wishing the lack of flavor back into them. I mean - what's so hard about flour, eggs, oil, and sugar?

Here's my stance on them. They should be lightly sweet but not sugary. Thick but not heavy. And the addition of fruit and/or nuts in the batter is mandatory for texture (nothing beats warm, gooey blueberries - nothing.) Now if I could just boil down my feelings on politics to three sentences, I'd really be onto something...

These are thick and fluffy and flavorful but won't give you a pancake hangover that your favorite brunch place or diner might. Another way to curb that is to splurge for real maple syrup (real tomato ketchup, Eddie?) and not use the corn syrup laden variety. Not that I couldn't drink it by the gallon given the right hormonal circumstances, but it's not the best thing to pour over your breakfast first thing in the morning.

Not that you have to eat these only in the morning. A pancake dinner with these wrapped around a good link of sausage may well be in my future. As in right now.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes
Serves 3.

3/4 cup Buckwheat pancake mix (such as Hodgson Mill brand)
1/2 cup shaken buttermilk (low fat is fine)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese or cream cheese
pinch salt
3 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 cup blueberries, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces or pecan pieces

1 tablespoon butter, for frying
1/2 cup real maple syrup, for serving
Butter at room temp or spreadable butter, for serving

Mix the pancake mix through the brown sugar together in a medium bowl with a whisk. Let sit five minutes then fold in the blueberries and nuts with a spoon. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet or on a griddle pan. Gently push the butter around to coat with a butter knife and let heat for 30 seconds or so but not so long that the butter begins to brown.

Add the batter to the pan by large spoonfuls monitoring closely in case you need to turn down the heat (should remain on medium/medium low) cooking on the first side for just a little over a minute, depending on the size of your cakes.

These pancake will not bubble, so the way to test them for flipping is to see if your spatula will run underside it easily without sticking. If so, quickly slide underneath them and flip, cooking for just another 45 seconds or so.

You can remove all of the cooked pancakes to a baking sheet and place in a low oven to keep them warm until they're all done.

Serve with maple syrup, heated in the microwave for 30 seconds, extra blueberries, and additional butter to spread.

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