We're not really big into white flour around here. I know, big surprise. But there was always something about real whole wheat pancakes that left what felt like a dumbbell of dough in my gut. So when I saw Mark Bittman's recipe in the New York Times last year, he broke it all down as to how to avoid the dumbbell effect. The first time I made them topped with hot maple syrup, I was completely sold. So was everyone else at our house. Since then, these are pretty much all we ever make, with a little tweaks here and there like adding bananas or blueberries. They are indeed fluffy, aromatic, and full of flavor, and I often eat the syrup-less leftovers as a snack later in the day. They sometimes sneak their way into the boys lunch boxes the next day with a little smear of almond butter. Darth Vader above kills 'em every time.
Butter as needed
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander or cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
2 cups milk.
1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter. In a large bowl combine flours, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt.
2. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer or a whisk until stiff peaks form, but do not overbeat. In separate bowl beat milk, yolks and melted butter until foamy, a couple of minutes. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and give a couple of good stirs, but do not overmix. Fold in egg whites and stir until batter is just evenly colored and relatively smooth; it's O.K. if there are some lumps.
3. Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) or griddle over medium heat until a few drops of water dance on its surface. Add butter as needed (or use a thin film of neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn). When skillet is hot, spoon batter into pan. Cook until bubbles form and pop, about 2 minutes; you may have to rotate cakes to cook them evenly, depending on your heat source and pan. Then carefully flip pancakes. Cook until well colored on other side, another minute or two more. Serve or keep in warm oven for a few minutes.
Yield: At least 6 servings.
Stir-ins: 1/2 cup cornmeal, rolled oats or oat or wheat bran in place of 1/2 cup of either flour; or add 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed; or add up to 1/2 cup cooked grain like quinoa, brown rice or millet. (The flour in this recipe can be all whole-wheat or all buckwheat.)
Lighter cakes: Use 2/3 cup white flour in place of 2/3 cup of the whole-wheat flour. This makes separating the eggs optional.
Savory cakes: Omit sugar and increase salt to 1 teaspoon; replace cinnamon with cumin. Serve like bread with soups or stews.