Heavenly Sourdough Buckwheat Pancakes | Chris Kresser
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Heavenly Sourdough Buckwheat Pancakes

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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.

  1. In india the mix about half and half lentils and buckwheat that are both fermented to give the pancakes extra fluffiness. Perhaps this could be included in your recipee.

  2. Brilliant! I’m currently away from home (and Fred and George Weasley, my trusty sourdough starters) but I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe as soon as I’m home.

    A few thoughts/suggestions coming from a longtime sourdough bread baker trying to go mostly Paleo….

    1. The commenter who suggested soaking the buckwheat in yogurt is right on target. Yogurt jump starts fermentation like nobody’s business. And I’ve found that using yogurt instead of milk in pancakes is fantastic. Just use about twice as much as he recipe calls for since it’s so thick. It’s like magic. It turns even store bought pancake mix into something that tastes almost like a real sourdough pancake.

    2. Since you’re already soaking the buckwheat overnight why not go ahead and maintain a starter? They’re very low maintenance and can be kept in the fridge for up to a two months without feeding when you’re not using them. So it wouldn’t take any more work to have a full blown sourdough starter.

    3. Plus actually going whole hog and maintaining a healthy starter will also take care of that mucilaginous stuff. That’s just an early fermentation stage. You need to feed and rinse a new starter for about a week to get past that stage and have a nice clean balanced starter. And it’s well worth it since you’ll get additional leavening plus far better taste and texture.

    4. Alternatively it’s very easy to turn a regular flour starter into a buckwheat starter if you have access to a good one. Just feed it buckwheat for a few weeks. By the time you’ve discarded, rinsed, and fed for that long there is no flour left from the original starter. But since the yeasts transfer from the old starter you will get all the benefits of a mature stable culture which is easier to work with and gives more consistent results than one started with random yeast in your own kitchen. French bakers have even been known to lurk outside famous bakeries and “steal” their starters … Not that I’m suggesting resorting to crime or anything 🙂

    • When you talk about maintaining a starter–is that with the whole buckwheats or with the blended substance? I didn’t understand how you would continue to rinse it and add to it if it were blended. I have been making kefir with raw cow’s milk, would you be adding some of this to the starter regularly? or just adding blended buckwheat? —– in short: what are the steps to create and maintain a starter?

    • Also: a friend of mine who sent me the link to this recipe soaks her buckwheat in water with a 1/4 C of the whey from her kefir. And having suctioned off the cream from the top of the raw milk, she keeps her extra kefir grains in that in the fridge… kinda cool using all the parts for a purpose…

  3. Can I add Kefir to ferment the batter? Love BW but would love to take it up a notch;-) Thnx!

  4. Are buckwheat groats safe to be eaten- after fermentation- without being cooked? I’ve stumbled across some killer groats breakfast cereals that don’t involve cooking, just fermentation. It would be nice to make in bulk and use it for multiple purposes.

    • I eat groats soaked overnight so would like to know how much phytic acid I am eating. My grandson has a mouth full of cavities and eats no sugar.

      • Glyphosate could be the culprit (it is used to desiccate even non-GMO wheat, so it’s in the majority of commercial bread, causing all sorts of ills). Glyphosate messes up the mineral transport in the body. Look up the research by Stephanie Seneff from MIT.
        Glyphosate is one major reason in favor of fermentation. Glyphosate disrupts the Shikamate pathway in bacteria; that’s why some people have so much trouble with their gut microbiome, and others have no luck with their sourdough starters. When a sourdough ferment fails, you throw it away, when your gut fails, you get chronic illness, cavities, etc.

        (Some microorganisms, most notably Bacillus subtilis, are able to break up glyphosate.)

        Glyphosate is the culprit if you ask me. Phytic acid doesn’t have that effect on mineral transport in the body.

  5. I think it’s possible to get the fermentation done in one step. I soak my groats in yogurt or kefir water overnight in the oven with the light on (gets pretty warm) and it’s nice and bubbly by morning. Then I rinse and add more water, cream, butter, eggs, salt and vanilla to them in my blendtec. I don’t measure anymore but I use three eggs and start with about 2 cups buckwheat before soaking, then just load up the blender to its max :). Always turns out great, no sticking because I use my enameled large pan and don’t clean it in between to keep it seasoned. They taste very much like French crepes and hold stuff inside as well as any gluten containing recipe.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    • 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

      • 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….?

          • 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.

              • 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.

  11. 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?

      • Hi Chris, I have been using your recipe here for a good 8 months now and just love it!!! I have noticed though that lately my fermentation process…2nd step of the recipe after processing soaked groats, brings a layer of purplish color atop of my buckwheat paste. I have been scraping it off and it comes back. Now I have been letting it ferment for longer than 24 hours, as i am use to that when feeding sourdough starter, I am also familiar with hootch on my starter when it is in need of feeding. Is this purple layer ok to stir into final batter of my pancakes,as that would be the next step of the recipe at this point? Thanks again and just lobving my sour dough buckwheat pancakes,Sherry Z Pgh.Pa

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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