Sunday, April 15, 2012

Oat (& buckwheat) pancakes

Matt's default response to "What would you like for breakfast?" at the weekend is "Pancakes!".  (Not sure exactly when I became weekend-breakfast-maker-in-chief - but I spose he does work all week, while I gallivant about changing nappies and wiping up vomit without a care in the world... haha.)  He doesn't mean thin, delicate crepes - Matt spent four years living in Montreal, and for him pancakes are thick and fluffy and ideally draped with syrup.  

I like pancakes too - both sorts - but they can feel slightly insubstantial, faintly frivolous, and I am plagued with the notion that refined carbs fried in butter do not a wholesome breakfast make.  (Pudding, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely.)  I like my morning goods to be a little more sustaining, to have a bit more heft to them - otherwise I'm hungry and/or sugar crashing half an hour later.

A few weeks ago, I thought I'd found the solution in these oatmeal pancakes... but on the third making they seemed a bit too porridge-stodgy.  They are also quite a faff to make - you have to grind oats to a powder in a food processor (a bit antisocial on a Sunday morning - sorry, neighbours) and make porridge before you make the batter, and all you wanted was pancakes.  Still, I liked the idea of a pancake made wholesome with oats, but with weekend-indulgent butter-crisp edges, so I googled and I tweaked and I think these will do nicely.  We had them with a blob of Greek yoghurt and some rhubarb and vanilla compote, but they would be equally good with butter and maple syrup or honey, or fresh berries or sliced bananas, or some combination of the above.  The buckwheat flour gives them a really nice nutty flavour, but if you don't have any then all plain flour would be fine.

A note on cup measurements: I know - cup measurements are annoying.  But pancakes are such a classically North American foodstuff that I think they are acceptable here.  Plus it's late and I can't be bothered to do the conversions, so there.  If you don't have cup measures, see here for conversion tables.

Oat (& buckwheat) pancakes
Adapted from here, here and here

Serves two hungry grown-ups and a baby

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
3/4 cup oats - porridge or jumbo
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
Generous pinch salt 
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp melted butter, plus more for frying
A neutral oil such as sunflower or grapeseed

In a medium bowl, combine the milk with the lemon juice or vinegar and leave for five minutes - you are making a quick, cheaty buttermilk substitute.  Add the oats to the 'buttermilk' and soak for as long as your pancake-hungry hordes will allow - I think I left mine for about twenty minutes. (One of the recipes I found online said to soak them overnight - maybe this makes the pancakes even more delicious, or perhaps easier to digest - but twenty minutes is fine.)  

Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into another bowl.  Have a coffee.  Beat the brown sugar, the egg and the melted butter into the oat mixture and then gently stir the wet mix into the dry ingredients - stop as soon as soon as you don't see any more streaks of dry flour (the less you mix, the lighter your pancakes will be - for more pancake-making tips, see here).  

Heat your best frying pan (non-stick or cast iron) over a medium heat.  Add a drop of oil and a pat of butter, and when the butter is foaming, spoon big spoonfuls of batter into the pan.  Wait until you see lots of bubbles on the surface of the pancakes, then lift up the edge of one - if they are a nice golden brown, flip them over.  They will cook much more quickly on the second side.  You might have to adjust the heat to get the requisite golden-brownness and crispy edges.  Serve the pancakes straight away, or keep them warm in a low oven.  We have also found that they reheat really well the next day in a toaster, but take no responsibility for any long-term damage that the toasting of previously fried foods may cause to your electrical appliances.