These are made with buckwheat flour (known as blé-noir, black wheat, or sarrasin in France), and are always served with savoury toppings (or simply with butter, but still as a savoury dish). I have used many recipes over the years, and this has been my favourite for sometime.
A few important notes:
- Buckwheat pancakes will never be super thin and lacy, they are not that sort of thing.
- To get an even pancake that is not too thick, it is helpful to spread the batter out over the pan. There is a little tool for that, like a small wooden toothless rake, but you can do a decent job with the back of a ladle or spoon. Be quick, and gentle.
- These are not pancakes that you flip. Cook them on one side only, attempts to flip will make you very cross, and leave you pancake-less.
- The first pancake will be rubbish. This is as it should be. Whenever making pancakes there is always “one for the dog” (or the cook) at the beginning.
- Give the batter a quick mix before making each pancake, the flour does settle to the bottom of the bowl.
- These pancakes should be eaten immediately. This can be a bit tough on the cook, who stands churning them out for the hungry hoards, so get you eaters into the kitchen with you, and make sure you take a pause to eat one for yourself.
(For 6 pancakes)
- 1tsp. white wine vinegar
- 250ml whole milk
- ½ tbsp. melted butter
- 40ml brandy (optional, but it does improve the pancakes)
- Pinch of salt (optional, in Brittany we use salted butter in everything, so this is not needed)
- 125g buckwheat flour
- 2 eggs
- Butter / sunflower oil to fry
- Toppings that you like
- Add the vinegar to the milk, and leave it in a warm place to curdle. This will only take about 15 minutes.
- Add the melted butter, brandy, flour and a pinch of salt to the curdled milk, and mix until it is a smooth batter.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and work them in thoroughly.
- Leave the batter to stand for say 20 minutes, if you have time. The world won’t end if you don’t. The theory goes that the moisture is more fully absorbed by the flour, and the batter becomes more viscous, making better pancakes. There is also some talk of how it allows the gluten to develop, but since this is buck-wheat batter here, that isn’t very relevant. Some people feel that this is all tosh anyway. I have not found that the difference is significant, but the advice came from my mother so….
- Warm a pancake pan / flat frying pan on a medium heat. When hot, melt a little butter (or add a little oil depending on your preference) and add a medium ladle (3/4 of my large ladle) of batter into the middle of the pan, and spread it around, by tipping / spreading with the back of the ladle / spreading with a crepe tool.
- When the pancake is just cooked, tip your fillings on the top to warm / cook / melt, according to filling. Fold the pancakes (these are always folded into a square shape, usually by folding the edges into the middle), slide onto a plate, and eat immediately.
Favourite fillings in my house are:
- Ham, grated cheese and egg, alone or in any combination – the standout winner
- Onion soubise – slow cooked onion mixed into béchamel sauce
- Creamed spinach
- Tomato sauce
- Garlic mushrooms