Even though they had sat in a hotel warmer for longer than I had been awake those little Dutch pancakes or Pannenkoeken (trying saying it, it’s quite fun) were something special. Lightly sweet and airy in an unfamiliar way. Usually I hail pancakes for their fluffiness, these are not fluffy at all, rather they delightfully teeter on the line of crepe or pancake.
I thoroughly examined their little holes that covered their surfaced and wandered how they differed from the pancakes that we make nearly every Saturday morning. There was no chemical taste from the presence of leaveners but instead a well-developed flavor that extends beyond just “sweet”.
I’ve never been much of a fan of pancakes. Really the only reason why I do make them so often is because my kids love them and I find it rather idealic to think of them growing up with the memory of our weekend long breakfast tradition, but these pancakes have me changing my mind.
A couple things set these apart. For one they are made with yeast. Their bubbles aren’t chemically created by the presence of baking soda or powder but instead with the addition of yeast and a bit of time. Had I been more patient I would have tried letting this batter rest in the fridge over night as I imagine the flavor would have even been better. I can not confirm this, however because we ate it all in one sitting.
Secondly, there is a hearty amount of whole grain buckwheat in here. The pannenkoeken I found in the Netherlands weren’t as dark but I’m sticking to my version. I was skeptical as I smelled the batter and thought it smelled too healthy for my liking but as they cooked up the buckwheat softened and added intrigue and depth that can’t be found in a recipe using all all-purpose flour.
Maybe it’s because I love saying “pannenkoeken” or because I love the lightness or the depth of flavor from yeast and buckwheat flour or possibly it’s because they are the perfect vessel for loads of jam and powdered sugar. Whatever the reason, these are soon to become a family tradition, one in which I hope my kids will remember with great fondness.
Yeasted Buckwheat Pancakes
1 generous cup/ 4 ¼ oz all-purpose flour
1 generous cup/ 4 ¼ oz buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or ½ vanilla bean
2 Tablespoons butter, for the skillet
Combine the flours, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients (except the butter) until everything is well combined. The batter is very wet.
Let sit for at least one hour, until many bubbles start forming.
Pre-heat a sturdy pan (cast iron is my favorite) on medium heat. Add a bit of the butter to the hot pan and let melt.
Carefully pour in enough batter to form 3-4” pancakes. Let cook until the entire surface is covered in crater-like bubbles. Flip and cook about 2 minutes more.
Keep warm in a gently warmed oven.
Serve with jam, syrup, powdered sugar, and lemon slices – if you like.