Tag Archives: Good to the Grain

Pear Pancakes

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)

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Butter for the pan

Dry mix:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Wet Mix:
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/4 cup+ 2 tbsp whole milk
1 egg
2 medium pears, ripe but firm

Finish:
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

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They Puffed

It’s Thanksgiving and Christmas Basket season again.  Just like every year at this time, I am up to my eyeballs in coordinating this holiday charity project that provides the groceries that will make holiday dinners for needy families in my neighborhood, and Christmas presents for the children, too.  We helped 52 families at Thanksgiving.  And now we’re headed straight toward Christmas Basket delivery day like a runaway freight train with boxcars full of presents and turkeys and produce and volunteers and spreadsheets and…

You know that thing that happens when you have been working on something really difficult and time consuming and a deadline is looming, and you decide that you absolutely MUST clean the entire house from top to bottom, knit a sweater, and reorganize your spice cupboard?  Or in my remote past, assemble an entire Victorian dollhouse from a kit, when what I really needed to be doing was to finish my research so I could actually graduate from grad school.  I think you know what I’m talking about.

Well, something of that sort came over me a few weeks ago.  Out of the blue, I decided that it was time to master the art of the popover.  I have gone on record as saying that I’m not much of a baker.  And yet, it suddenly seemed of the utmost importance to not only make baked goods, but fussy, tricky baked goods of the sort that lead people to leave despairing pleas for advice in online forums.  I found a few recipes that looked good and promised to produce popovers that would reliably puff up into light, airy pastries.  I foolishly–if predictably—ruined the first batch by substituting cream for milk because I had cream and it sounded good.  I forced myself to comply with the next recipe, and still produced hockey pucks.

Then Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce came from the library.  I have heard many awed and reverent reviews of this book, and eagerly looked forward to seeing for myself.  I was leafing through the pages, reading bits here and there, admiring the beautiful pictures, when it occurred to me to look for a popover recipe.  There was indeed a recipe, one that looked wonderful and included helpful suggestions.  The recipe called for Boyce’s Multigrain Flour Mix, so I flipped to that page and saw that I already had three of the five flours, but a trip to the co-op would be needed for the other two.   Not that I minded more distractions from the Christmas Baskets!  Off to the co-op!

The Multigrain Flour Mix makes 4 cups, quite a bit more than is needed for the popovers.  I put the rest in the freezer, and I expect it will be perfect for making whole grain bread in the bread machine, or in muffins.

The popovers were ridiculously easy to make–a little bit like German Pancakes, but on a much smaller scale.  Just mix, pour into heavily buttered muffin cups, and bake.  And they puffed!  Oh, how gloriously they puffed.  They came out of the oven golden brown and as fluffy as cumulus clouds.

When pulled open, the popovers were hollow.  The outsides were crusty, and the insides a bit creamy.  More butter was hardly needed, but I slathered it on anyway, and a touch of blackberry jam.  Delicious.

These popovers are at their best fresh from the oven.  They would make an ideal Christmas morning breakfast, with a cup of coffee or cocoa after the presents and stockings have been opened.  And they are still quite edible if rewarmed in the oven later in the day, but will lose their light freshness quickly, so eat them all on day one.  That shouldn’t be too onerous of a task.

Multigrain Flour Mix

(from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup barley flour
  • ½ cup millet flour
  • ½ cup rye flour

Measure all the flours into a bowl and whisk together

Popovers

(slightly adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup Multigrain Flour Mix
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
  1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the muffin tins (unbuttered) in the oven to heat up.
  2. Measure the eggs, milk, flours, and salt into a bowl.  Measure half of the melted butter (2 tbsp) over the ingredients in the bowl.
  3. Using a hand mixer, mix the popover batter until combined, about 20 seconds.  Remove the muffin tins from the oven and brush every other cup liberally with butter.  Working quickly, fill each of the buttered cups three-quarters full with batter.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes.  Then, rotate the tins and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for 8-10 minutes more, or until golden brown.
  5. Take the tins from the oven, slide a sharp knife around the popovers to remove, and eat immediately.  Turn the oven temperature back up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and repeat with the remaining batter.

Makes one dozen popovers.


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