Weekend breakfasts have gotten a lot more exciting lately.
Generally speaking, I have a narrow breakfast repertoire. On weekdays, it’s either toast and an egg, or yogurt. I don’t need variety. I’m boring and set in my ways I like it that way. I just want a simple, sustaining breakfast that can be made and eaten in approximately five minutes, while on full auto-pilot.
A long, leisurely weekend breakfast, on the other hand, is a pleasure to be savored. Ahhh…jammies, slippers, a giant mug of black coffee. Still, I’m happy with the same-ole same-ole, week after contented week. Scrambled eggs, bacon, bagels, sometimes pancakes. It works. It makes me happy.
But things aren’t so quiet in the mornings now, what with Sasha around. Is there anything sillier than a kitten in the throes of his morning crazies?
He’s underfoot, and then he’s gone. He’s climbing like a mountain goat, and making wild, miscalculated leaps into space. I burn the bagels while I stalk him with the camera, giggling and heedless of the smoke coming from the toaster.
Then, as if weekend breakfast time wasn’t already shook up enough, along came Kim Boyce’s cookbook, Good to the Grain, with the recipe for Pear and Buckwheat Pancakes. The pleasant routine went straight out the window, and I was buying pears a week in advance, checking the cupboard for buckwheat flour, and stirring up honey butter, all in anticipation of a Sunday breakfast nonpareil.
These pancakes are well worth leaving the beaten path for. They are dense, nutty, moist, fruity, and utterly satisfying. Even better, they aren’t much more time consuming to make than regular pancakes. I made the honey butter and combined the dry ingredients the night before, to streamline the process. If you like maple syrup on your pancakes, you could skip the honey butter altogether and be perfectly happy.
The original recipe, like all of the recipes in this book, is really perfect as-is. I increased the milk because I like pancake batter that is a little thinner.
Pear and Buckwheat Pancakes
(adapted very slightly from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)
Butter for the pan
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/4 cup+ 2 tbsp whole milk
2 medium pears, ripe but firm
4 oz. (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup honey
Stir the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk the melted butter, milk, and egg until thoroughly combined.
Peel the pears. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the whole peeled pears into the milk mixture; the pear juice should fall into the milk along with the grated pears.
Using a spatula, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently combine. For tender pancakes, it is important that you use a light hand as you gently fold the batter with the spatula. The batter should be slightly thick, with small pieces of pear flecked throughout.
Although the batter is best if used immediately, it can sit for about an hour on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. When you return to the batter, it will be very thick and should be thinned, 1 tablespoon at a time, with milk-take great care not to overmix.
Meanwhile, melt the butter and honey together in a small saucepan and cook until boiling, emulsified, and slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the honey butter into a serving pitcher and set it in a warm place near the stove.
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron pan or griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed on the pan. Rube the pan generously with butter; this is the key to crisp, buttery edges, my favorite part of any pancake. Working quickly, dollop 1/4-cup mounds of batter on to the pan, 2 or 3 at a time. Once bubbles have begun to form on the top side of the pancakes, flip it over and cook until the bottom is dark golden-brown, about 5 minutes total.
Wipe the pan with a cloth before griddling the next batch. Rub the pan with butter and continue with the rest of the batter. If the pan is too hot or not hot enough, adjust the flame accordingly to keep results consistent.
Serve the pancakes hot, straight from the skillet, with the pitcher of honey butter.
Makes about 12 pancakes