Sunday, September 25, 2011

Flour Power

I collect flours. Or so it would seem.   

Blue corn meal? Yeah, I got that. Semolina? Yep, got it. And whole wheat. And buckwheat. And bread flour, and AP flour, and oat flour too.

What I don't got is a lot of recipes to use them all up. Bob's Red Mill has recipes on its website for all these flours, but some of them sound a bit, um, dry. Like Quinoa-Peanut Butter Cookies. Or High Fiber Crunch Cookies. Ouch.

Enter Gian Who Has A Recipe For Everything. And his grandmother does too, apparently, including a recipe for Buckwheat Pancakes from 1917. Gian says "the past is tangibly resurrected" by preparing old recipes. I agree, but I confess I tend to prepare them with a modern twist. So I took this recipe, which Gian likes to top with molasses (now THAT is old-fashioned!), and adapted it to my new, electric, non-stick waffle maker. Totally 21st century.

Most of the waffles I've made so far have been fairly light and airily crisp, though I have always thrown in a bit of whole wheat flour.  I knew that buckwheat waffles would be darker, of course, and perhaps a teensy bit denser, but I wasn't quite prepared for the gumminess of the batter. It really didn't have that it's-Sunday-morning-and-I-can't-wait-for-syruppy-waffles kind of vibe. At all. But I do love all things vintage, so I carried on.

The first few buckwheat waffles I made were a little buckwheat-y, so I needed a boost in the flavor department. As I eyed the bottle of molasses that Gian swore was great on top of the waffles, I was hit with an idea: put the molasses in the waffles.   The flavor was vastly improved, but the added sugar made the waffles stick to my non-stick waffle maker. Which is irritating in any century. Fortunately, someone invented cooking spray a few decades ago, so I used that.

Oooh, it's just like 1917. Only with soy milk.

Thick and gummy...

I added a tablespoon or two to the recipe (which I halved), and threw in a little allspice and ground ginger, too. I sprayed the bejeezus out of the waffle iron, and cooked the waffles a little past the green indicator light. They turned out pretty well, especially drowned in maple syrup, and had decent amounts of protein and fiber, since buckwheat is high in both. This is important for counteracting the 80 trillion grams of sugar in the syrup.  Something fruity, such as marmalade or a compote, would pair nicely with the deeper, darker flavor of the waffles.

But I'm not at all sure Gian's Sicilian grandmother was into fruity compotes.

These were made with the revised recipe, not the old-timey recipe.

**NB: I made these waffles again on October 23, with several major differences:
-I basically reversed the ratio of flours, using 3/4 C AP : 1/4 C buckwheat. I think this made the entire batter far less gummy and thick.
-I used 1/2 TBSP baking powder
-I used more oil-- probably in the range of 2-3 TBSP.
-I added an egg.
-I used a little less liquid (1 C soy milk). 
-I replaced the molasses with barley malt syrup. This is not because I think barley malt syrup is so great. It's because I paid nearly $6 for the bottle and so far have used a grand total of 2 tsp. 

These waffles were easier to work with, since the batter was thinner and less sticky. I still coated the waffle maker with cooking spray to be safe, but I suspect they would have been less likely to stick than the gooey ones.   The flavor was less buckwheat-y but still more intense than plain AP waffles would be, so it's 1/4 C buckwheat for the win.

Old-Timey Modern Buckwheat Waffles
adapted from Gian's Sicilian grandmother

1 C buckwheat flour
1/2 C AP flour
3 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 TBSP canola oil, melted butter, or lard (hey, I said it was old-timey)
1 1/4 C milk, water, soy milk, or buttermilk (or a combination)
2 TBSP molasses
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
cooking spray

1. Preheat waffle maker.
2. Sift together flours, salt, spices, and baking powder.  
3. Add wet ingredients and mix well with a wire whisk, electric beaters, or stand mixer. You may need to add a few more tablespoons of water or milk to achieve a pourable consistency.
4. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray on both top and bottom. Fill iron with batter according to manufacturer's directions. Waffles will turn chestnut brown when done.
5. Top with maple syrup, butter, and/or fruit, as desired.

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