Thursday, December 4, 2008

Buckwheat Pancakes

I have found it very difficult to do any blogging over the past few weeks. The deadline for my book Go Faster Food has been drawing ever closer and I have been working flat out to get it finished. I am in the final throws of proof-reading, dotting i's and crossing t's and such like. I have been working so hard that running has been put on the back-burner as well. I have to say that rather than feeling unfit after a break, I feel that the old joints and muscles have had a nice well-earned rest and I am now ready to start again, afresh, ready for the next few months of hard marathon training. My plans are to do London, for which I have another Good For Age entry, and then to do Stockholm with Mark (long-suffering and gorgeous husband) and some friends.

And so to food, the stuff of life...and running...

I have been experimenting with buckwheat recently. Despite its name, buckwheat, or sarrasin, is a member of the rhubarb family and has absolutely nothing to do with wheat. It is naturally gluten-free and has a deliciously sweet, nutty flavour. It is traditionally used in Brittany in “galettes au sarrasin”, or buckwheat pancakes. Breton galettes can be filled with any number of fillings. You could try this recipe with traditional savoury fillings - slices of brie, goat’s cheese, smoked salmon, caramelized onions or eggs, or with sweet fillings - bananas and syrup is one of my favourites. Buckwheat is a very good source of manganese, magnesium and dietary fibre. It contains flavenoids and good quality protein and is said to control blood sugar levels. It certainly keeps you full of energy for hours. The Bretons not only tend to make their galettes with dry Breton cider rather than milk and water, but they also wash them down with a few glasses of the delicious nectar. By all means try this, but not if you are about to go to the gym or run a half-marathon. This is my non-alcoholic breakfast version, which I prefer with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, or ham and cheese and a crisp, green salad.

 As with traditional pancakes, the batter is lighter if you leave it to rest for a while.

 Serving size: makes 6-7 galettes


100g buckwheat flour

50g plain flour, wholemeal or plain

( The addition of plain wheat flour improves the texture of the galettes. If you want to make the pancakes gluten-free, just use 150g buckwheat flour instead)

30g melted salted butter

1 fresh free-range egg

200 ml water

100 ml semi-skimmed milk

Scant pinch of salt

Butter to cook

Slices of ham and grated cheese


  1. Mix the two flours together, add a pinch of salt and make a small well in the centre for the egg.
  2. Break the egg into the mixture and then add the milk and half the water.
  3. Beat together with an electric hand whisk until the mixture is nice and smooth. Mix in the rest of the water and the melted butter. The mixture should be the consistency of thin cream.
  4. If possible, leave the mixture to rest for a few hours or overnight.
  5. Heat a pancake pan or large non-stick frying pan. Add a knob of butter and move the pan around so that the butter melts to cover the base of the pan. Add a small ladleful of the batter and quickly swirl it around so that you have a very thin layer of batter covering the whole of the pan. You can use a palette knife or an egg slice if you have one to spread out the mixture. Let this cook for two minutes over a medium heat, or until it comes away easily from the pan when you shake it. Then toss the pancake over and cook for a minute or two on the other side.
  6. Flip the pancake back over and then pop a very small knob of butter, a thin slice of ham and a tablespoon of grated cheese onto one half of the pancake.
  7. Fold the plain half of the pancake over the filling and then fold in half again and cook on a very gentle heat for a minute or two to melt the cheese.


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