The above is a pop culture reference. I know, I know. You shouldn’t even attempt a joke if you have to explain it. But this headline popped into my head, so I had to use it because it was so absurd and way too long. Just go with it, people.
I recently embarked on a seemingly laborious task recently: making buckwheat flour from scratch (the scratchiest of scratch), and then making the most EPIC buckwheat pancakes imaginable. Who knew it would take a few weeks.
The story began around my birthday (January 8th). We went down to Carmel Valley with a few friends, and all I wanted to do for the big 3-0 was cook ridiculously scrumptious food. I had the idea to make buckwheat pancakes from scratch, or getting raw buckwheat groats, soak them, sprout them, dehydrate them and then grind them up into flour (using the VitaMix, for the right consistency). This was a task that wasn’t so much laborious as it was time consuming. I went into soaking the groats thinking I could get all of this done in a day, but without a dehydrator, like the one’s found here that all of my vegan friends say are the top of the line: http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com/, there wasn’t enough time or experience. And the real questions are: why soak? Why sprout? Why dehydrate? To make the flour, I had to dehydrate. But sprouting essentially wakes up a dormant seed that you are getting ready to consume, making it easier to digest and absorb. According to our friends at The Nourishing Gourment, taking advice from Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions (an amazing cookbook and reference guide) it makes sense to eat grains, legumes, seeds, etc., that have been sprouted because this brings them back to life, for one, and because there are coatings that can be released from encasing some grains that inhibit proper absorption of the nutrients you are expecting to get from those foods in the first place…and soaking them before sprouting releases these inhibitors. Phytic acid, or example, keeps the body from absorbing some essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and zinc, two of the most important. Sprouting can also produce more vitamins and minerals in the seed, packing that particular grain, seed or legume with more of a nutritional punch. How can you go wrong?
This leads me to the fundamentals of taking this project on. I soaked my buckwheat groats overnight, in the fridge (I think ideally you leave them out,at room temp, covered with cheesecloth or something of the sort) and submerged in water. Then I put them into a very fine meshed colander to dry out and help the oozy, mucosa (sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?) drain out. As this was an experiment, I didn’t realize that buckwheat had such a think substance that was released through soaking, so I drained it with water a couple of times, running my hands through the grains with water running to get most of this substance loose and draining. Then I left the buckwheat in the fridge overnight and it sprouted very quickly. Ideally, they should be left in a jar, or a similar container, to germinate at room temperature. Check them often, as you should use them for cooking JUST as they start to sprout (or sprout them all the way FOR sprouts, for a salad or sandwich!)
The groats close up, with the sprouts showing quite nicely. It’s ALIVE! And healthful
The sprouted groats, not as yellow as they seem in this photo. Pre-dehydration.
Next, after spreading the groats out on a non-stick baking sheet, I set my oven to the lowest temperature it would go to: 170 degrees (again, I am without an Excalibur at the moment). True raw foodists, who do a LOT of soaking, sprouting and dehydrating, won’t go above 118 degrees and stay within the range of 104 and 114 degree usually (for more detailed information, check out this reference site. VERY informational: http://www.rawfoodlife.com/Articles___Research/Science_of_Raw_v__Cooked/science_of_raw_v__cooked.htm). Cafe Gratitude-style food prep! I doused the sprouts in about 2 tbsp of cinnamon before dehydration, coating the groats, and dehydrated the groats for what seemed like about 5-7 hours. My husband and I were in the house all morning, so it wasn’t a problem, but you can see why a dehydrator can be a really useful tool. You don’t have to watch it, and you can leave it unattended overnight or throughout the day, just like a rice cooker. Just ensure that your machine is in a well ventilated spot on the kitchen counter.
5-7 hours later, after checking to make sure there was less and and less moisture surrounding the groats (I would check them every hour or so), I took them out, let them cool for about 30 minutes and tossed them into the VitaMix. After a quick minute on speed levels 6-9 in the VitaMix, I had BEAUTIFUL fresh buckwheat flour, perfectly ground. It was a REALLY wonderful feeling to see how smooth and fine it turned out.
On the grind…and half way done!
Finished and lookin’ fine!
Use some now and save some for later. Looks just like store bought – but without fillers of other flours and from sprouted grain!
So, you may be saying that this just looks like a ridiculous project. Let me challenge you to think back to your first history class, where we were learning about people living on the prairie, or farmer’s working the fields hundred of years ago…thousands of years ago. The native’s of this country; they respected the bounty of the land and got as much out of it that they NEEDED, not that we WANTED or DESIRED or thought they deserved. This is old school, folks. One recipe for grinding your own flour also suggested used a grinder, a hand mill, which can take a really long time and grinds in very small quantities. THIS was even less time intensive than it could have been…and was a wonderful lesson in what goes in to making food products, and processed food, even at the most basic level.
Carrying on…now it was time to showcase the flour and test it out. I found what will now be a staple breakfast recipe in my household, and one that you could easily turn into a savory recipe, that tasted MUCH like a particular 9 grain skillet pancake that my husband and I enjoyed at the famous Big Sur Bakery down HWY 1. I definitely recommend making a trip down to Big Sur not only for the camping, hiking and views, but for this gem of a spot for the pancake. And be sure to share it with at least one other person. : ) My recipe, adapted from Ester Perez at http://supermilkmama.com/sprouted-buckwheat-pancakes-vegan/. Thank you Ester! What an amazing recipe:
Buckwheat Pancakes (Gluten Free & Vegan)
- 1 1/2 cups of water (next time I am going to try half of this water and half almond milk, just to make it creamier)
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 1 cup of our homemade buckwheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 heavy dashes of each: cinnamon, fresh ground nutmeg and cardamom
- pinch of Himalayan Salt (I use larger pink chunks that I have in a salt grinder)
- 2 tbsp raw honey, melted on VERY low temperature on the stove top, slowly
- 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (I love Bragg’s)
- 3 Tablespoons of unrefined, raw coconut oil, melted with the honey)
- Goat butter (SO delicious) or raw butter
- Coconut nectar or Grade B Maple Syrup
- Heat griddle or cast iron skillet on medium heat.
- Put chia seeds in water, mix and set aside for 3-5 minutes (photo below)
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, spices, salt and baking soda.
- Stir chia seed and water mixture and add to flour mixture. Add honey, oil and vinegar. Stir well with a fork and taste for flavoring. You may want to add more spices. Batter should be on the thinner side. (photo below)
- Use a ladle to pour the pancake batter onto the griddle. When bubbles cover pancake, flip over gently but quickly. It is about 10-15 seconds per side on medium heat. Pancakes will be medium brown when ready, but don’t overcook (photo below).
- I like to serve these with maple syrup and the goat butter – it adds a really nice tang. (photo below)
The chia’s soaking. Ch-ch-ch-chia!
Readying the batter, and some of our ingredients.
See the bubbles? The more they rapidly pop as they surface, the more ready the pancake is to flip. We used a non-stick pan, but the use of your cast iron skillet would make it even tastier.
They came out a bit dark, from having the pan heated a bit too hot, but you can play with the temperature to see what works best for your taste. The slower and not as hot the better, though!
Our friend Tim came over to test them out, and with my husband’s famous slow cooked, soft scrambled eggs (THE best ever) served on the side, it turned into a wonderful breakfast for him. He seemed very happy with the texture and the taste.I was also thinking they could be manipulated into a savory pancake recipe, as well. Cutting out the coconut oil and using extra virgin olive oil, and cutting out the honey might work to prep the recipe for other ingredients. For example, you could put some cheese in there, some fresh herbs and spices, chives and sour cream (if you aren’t vegan) or a savory cashew cream topping. Perhaps some grated sweet potato or zucchini? You could also turn this into a great latke recipe. Just some food for thought!
Until next time…EMBRACE YOUR MULTIDIMENSIONAL, HIGH MAINTENANCE RECIPES!