Heavenly Sourdough Buckwheat Pancakes

buckwheatpancakes

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.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. says

    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.

    • Jen Jen says

      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

    • Chris says

      Hi Melissa! I’ve just tried some buckwheat crepes & love them.

      Wld love to try soaking buckwheat flour in yogurt, cld U advice what proportions to use?

      Thanks so much, looking forward to trying this!

  2. says

    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!

  3. says

    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?

  4. Susan says

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

  5. says

    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.

  6. Primal toad says

    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.

  7. khwarezmid says

    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.

  8. Torea says

    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!

  9. Catherine says

    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

  10. pjnoir says

    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

  11. says

    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.

  12. says

    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

  13. misterworms says

    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.

  14. Hannah says

    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.

  15. Kris says

    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!

  16. says

    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.

  17. jean finch says

    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

    • Chris Kresser says

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

  18. alex says

    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.

  19. Kerrick says

    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!

  20. Torea says

    @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.

    • Chris Kresser says

      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.

  21. Cathryn says

    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!

  22. simona says

    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.

  23. says

    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?

  24. Pierre says

    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

  25. says

    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?

    • Chris Kresser says

      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.

    • Sandra Brigham says

      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!

  26. Sandra Brigham says

    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?

    • Sandra Brigham says

      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.

    • says

      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).

  27. Benjamin Morgan says

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

  28. Steph says

    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?

  29. Dani says

    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.

  30. Taylor says

    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!

  31. Nahomi says

    I loved your recipe. I prepared and they came out tasting delicious.

    Do you know anything about salt fermented sourdough? It makes an airy, billowy, soft, and custardy crumb bread http://www.northwestsourdough.com/discover/?p=1648

    It would be wonderful to try this but I’m scared of the phytic acid, gluten, and other antinutrients. So I’m hoping that a similar recipe using buckwheat, millet or quinoa could be made. A suggestion for a future recipe on your blog, maybe? :o)

    Thank you.

    Nahomi.

  32. Zoe says

    I had problems with the batter shrinking when it hit the pan. But since the preparation is so similar to Indian Dosas, I was reminded that they use very little oil, just a sweep of ghee/oil on paper towel in the pan. I also fermented the pancakes with yogurt (they fry up better than when just soaked in water).

    Hot on the plate I smother them in coconut oil, salt, cinnamon and maple syrup. Also, I add Northern Ontario blueberries to the batter. I feel lucky.

    Thank you.

  33. Jo says

    Is this particular method of soaking the whole groats, blending, then soaking again based on traditional fermentation practices?

    We’ve made this recipe once and got our second batch soaking already. The kids love it. We did add some honey in case the sour taste might put the little one off, as well as some chocolate chips.

    We have a fairly cool Scandinavian kitchen and I’m wondering how the final soaked batter should look like when it’s done fermenting. I had mine going for the full 24 hours and for the last few hours it did develop little air bubbles and started taking on a slightly different smell, but I feel like it could possibly have gone on for a little while longer. Maybe taste it and see if it’s sour yet?

    Thanks for a great recipe!

  34. josiegirl says

    Thanks for this recipe! Question – I have organic buckwheat flour – would I just make a starter with it (just h2o and flour out for a few days with feedings until it bubbles) to remove the phytic
    acid then use the starter as batter?

  35. barb says

    Is there any benefit to just soaking the groats and then using them right after that? I don’t want to deal with the whole fermentation thing. I left them out on the counter to dry after soaking, but it took days and days to dry, so much so that they got moldy. I can see i’ll just have to soak them and use them right away in some sort of baked recipe.

    • Suzanne H says

      Soaking raw groats overnight drastically reduces the phytic acid. If they’re roasted, that has destroyed the phytase, which is what deactivates the phytic acid, so you want to get raw. Sprouting also reduces or eliminates phytic acid. There are websites that sell sprouted buckwheat flour, which is a lot easier than sprouting and drying your own. You can also grind up raw buckwheat groats into flour and soak it overnight in whatever liquid the recipe calls for. That has the same effect of reducing phytic acid. That can be a little tough when there isn’t much liquid in the recipe though.

      This website has a lot of great info: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2010/09/reducing-phytic-acid-in-grains-and-legumes.html

      • barb says

        Okay, thanks!. Will just soak and use them then. It sounds like one does not need to rinse the ground flour after it is soaked…cause that would be really difficult obviously. Where does the phytic acid go then if one doesn’t rinse the ground grain after….?

          • Caroline says

            As far as I understand, oats do not contain phytase to deactivate the phytic acid.

            So would adding a little buckwheat to the oats help when soaking oats overnight? I’m just trying to make my oatmeal as nutritious, beneficial and healthy as possible.

            Thank you.

              • Caroline says

                Thank you Suzanne :)

                Great, I will add a Tablespoon of raw buckwheat to my soaking oats from now on. I have been soaking oats religiously. (in water with a splash of vinegar).

                From the Weston A. Price article you linked “Overnight fermenting of rolled oats using a rye starter—or even with the addition of a small amount of fresh rye flour—may result in a fairly decent reduction of phytate levels.”.

                Since I don’t have a rye starter, sounds like buckwheat is a great substitute! Plus it’s gluten free :) Thank you.

  36. says

    Chris, Thanks for sharing your pancake recipe on twitter. One question…When you say buckwheat, are you referring to the whole grain, untouched, or to coarse/medium granulation, or to buckwheat flour? I would think that would make a difference as far as soaking time.

  37. Kaitlyn says

    We’ve been using this and Stephan’s recipe for a while now – making large batches of “pancakes” and freezing. I usually make an Italian bread version by adding a bunch of savory seasonings to the batter like salt, garlic and herbs before frying. Delicious.

    Has anyone had success in turning the soaked/fermented batter into other recipes like breads/loafs that can be baked instead of individually pan fried? I’d love to utilize big batches of this batter in a less time consuming way.

  38. Sig Williams says

    Just made your sourdough buckwheat pancakes and I left them for 24 hours and then another 24 hours. Absolutely fantastic. My jumbo sized organic pastured eggs and home rendered pastured pork lard made all the difference. Thank you so much for your recipe.

  39. Ana-Maria says

    Hi everyone, I am new to Paleo and trying to find my way in such much available information. Initially I was going to use almond flour but just read that it’s pretty bad for you, coconut flour apparently is not the best texture, so wondered whether buckwheat flour could be used ocasionally, as I don’t really remember it giving me sugar spikes. It is so difficult to know what is good and what isn’t good as there is so much contradicting information about almost anything.

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