Chez Cora is a popular breakfast dig here in Montreal. Montrealers describe themselves as restaurant hoppers so even in times of an economic recession, restaurants and eateries that enjoy a fine reputation are always full. Chez Cora is one of them. It has a successful business model and is owned and managed by Cora Mussely Tsouflidou, a native of Quebec who was born in the Gaspé Peninsula.
Cora studied Latin and Greek in university but when her first child was born, she had to quit school. By the time her third child was born, she was on her own. This was sufficient motivation to open a local canteen which tripled in value, thanks to her hard work and homemaking skills.
It was at Chez Cora where I first ate buckwheat pancakes. They were served to me in a set of three on a large oval platter; fresh fruits delicately scattered along the edges of the pancakes. Eaten with Canadian maple syrup, I devoured them with gusto.
Waking up one morning in late August, I felt a slight chill and wondered if winter was going to come early this year. I looked out the window and was dismayed to find that the street was wet, a steady drizzle caressing my window. To turn my negative thought into a positive one, I said to myself, “time to make buckwheat pancakes.” The heavy and “wheaty” texture of these pancakes make them a good match for a chilly wet morning.
I had been reading on the Net that the trick to making buckwheat pancakes is to make the batter the night before and to put it in the fridge. I don’t know why; those who recommended the overnight method didn’t explain why this was necessary. Some of the recipes had a long list of ingredients, so on this wet morning, I searched again, this time googling “simple buckwheat pancake recipes.”
You won’t believe this but the recipe I finally chose was from no other than Kentucky Fried Chicken! I thought KFC was strictly a chicken/roll/coleslaw place. I certainly never saw pancakes in their menu – at least not here in Montreal.
Here is the KFC recipe (taken from http://www.kfc.com/tips/buckwheat_cakes.asp).
1/2 cake yeast (I used active dry yeast from Fleischmann’s. Cake yeast is not sold in my supermarket)
1 quart warm water (105-115ºF)
2 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup white flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup bacon drippings or vegetable oil
pinch of baking soda
Dissolve yeast in warm water separately. Sift flours, sugar and salt together, add to water and make batter. Add bacon drippings or vegetable oil. Set at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight. Add pinch of baking soda the next morning. Cook pancakes on non-stick griddle over medium heat, turn as edges start to dry.
Kentucky Whipped Butter (if you like it) Cut up 3 pounds of butter at room temperature in mixing bowl. Beat until smooth, slowly add 1 cup buttermilk and beat until fluffy. Scrape bowl and continue beating until lump free.
I did not have bacon so I used a few drops of canola oil. Next time, I will definitely use bacon drippings because they would “perk up” the taste of the pancakes. This is what my batter looked like prior to refrigeration.
Next morning, the mixture grew in size. It looked like the yeast was doing its job.
When I stirred the batter, it shrank back to its normal size. Just a few tips I want to share:
- use the right size pan. If you want smaller pancakes, use the appropriate size. The pan must be non-stick (mine’s a teflon pan that I wiped with a paper towel dabbed in canola oil). My MISTAKE was using an oversized frying pan so the batter spread out instead of remaining intact. This was what I ended up with.
- the pan must be hot (about 2 minutes on high)
- pour a generous amount of batter (unless you want thin pancakes)
- wait until there are numerous bubbles before turning the pancake (with pancakes made with all-purpose flour or Bisquick, turning them after a few bubbles appear is fine, but with these buckwheat pancakes, I turned the first pancake too early, destroying the shape). My 2nd and 3rd pancakes were better (the pan had heated up nicely and I waited for more bubbles to appear before flipping them over)
- and yes, do use bacon drippings as the Colonel says!