Friday, September 10, 2021

WV Buckwheat -a Flavorful Fall Festival

The first signs of fall make this West Virginian think of the Buckwheat Festival. Memories of horse shows, carnival rides and craft exhibits come to mind. Then there's the aroma of sausage cooking and the hot buckwheat cakes on the griddle. Once seated, we lathered the cakes with maple syrup and passed large bowls of applesauce around the table.

The timing of the fall festival coincides with the harvest. The blooming buckwheat fields shown above at the start of August are now plowed, dried and milled. The hardy buckwheat crop was first introduced here during the Depression, then later accepted as a staple when late frosts killed other grains. Buckwheat withstands cold temperatures and has a short growing season. The farm shown above has buckwheat fields "anyplace they could be planted" around and among other grains and produce.

The buckwheat kernel is a triangular shape. It is not a wheat, but a pseudo cereal related to rhubarb. It is a gluten free grain. 

I was suspicious of the traditional buckwheat cake recipe displayed on a historical site yet decided to give it a try. I liked that it called for only buckwheat flour. While I cut the salt in half, the end product was still too salty for my tastes. After fermenting overnight, I did not add more water to the batter prior to baking. Besides mastering my technique- I was also testing a new griddle. Thus I have no idea how many servings the recipe would make. We both enjoyed our meal and will try the recipe again. Here's how I'll make it the next time:

Buckwheat Cakes

(2-3 Servings)

Mix yeast and water together in a large bowl. Allow to sit a few minutes, then add salt and flour. Cover and allow to sit overnight.
7 grams dry yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 quart water
360 grams buckwheat flour
Just prior to baking, add soda, powder, salt and sugar to the batter.
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
Heat griddle to 375 F.  Grease inside of 4 inch English Muffin rings. Set the rings on the griddle, then portion 3 tablespoons batter into each ring. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
Remove rings, turn buckwheat cakes and cook covered for 3 more minutes on the other side. 
Serve with local maple syrup, sausage and homemade chunky applesauce.