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Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes with Lemon Butter and Blueberry Compote

Nicely turned out, yes, but what makes these pancakes extraordinary is the flavor of their new crop green and violet buckwheat.

About 18 (3-inch) pancakes


20 minutes for the accoutrements; 10 minutes to make the batter, 10 minutes to cook the cakes


There is something about these pancakes that evokes the experience of eating a delicately iced, very fresh slice of buckwheat cake. Perhaps it is the fine, crispy top and bottom surfaces that give way to bright, swirling fruit and mineral flavors in their creamy crumb—and the occasional, pleasing pinpoint tang of mellow bittersweetness from small particles of whole buckwheat hull. Perhaps it is the lemon butter sliding luxuriously between, as lilting as an icing on the tongue, or the blueberry compote, supple and jellied, overhead. Whatever the case, these pancakes triple in flavor and satisfaction their commitment in time: light and lacy, deep and rich, dripping with elegance.

Cooking Remarks

And the buttermilk, the iconic American ingredient central to our notion of what makes quick breads and griddle cakes light and irresistible, what makes layer cakes meltingly tender, what gives a fried chicken crust an extra-special crispness? For years, that ingredient has been brought to us in the form of skim milk jacked up with lactic acid bacteria (or the powder everyone tried to say was great for baking). Well, real buttermilk has made a limited return engagement: a handful of small artisan dairies now produce real buttermilk. Seek and you shall find.

Should you decide to go with only the blueberry compote and skip the lemon butter (not recommended, mind you), we suggest adding a couple of teaspoons of finely grated lemon peel to the blueberry compote when it is finished.

Don’t dash this batter’s moxie by careening a whisk through it. A gentle introduction of wet and dry ingredients is more than adequate. The skillet is sufficiently hot when drops of water splashed on its surface sizzle. This should happen in about the same amount of time it takes you to put the batter together.

equipment mise en place

For the lemon butter, you will need a hand mixer, a small bowl, and a rasp or box grater.

For the pancake batter, you will need a small saucepan; a well-seasoned 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet or similarly sized griddle; large, medium, and small mixing bowls; a whisk; a small ladle or ¼-cup measure; a heatproof basting brush; and a metal spatula.

  • for the lemon butter:

    • 3
      ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter
    • 1.5
      ounces (7 tablespoons) sifted confectioners’ sugar
    • Pinch of fine sea salt
    • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 1 packed tablespoon), plus
      1½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • for the pancakes:


    Make the lemon butter: Using a hand mixer, beat the butter in a small bowl until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt and continue beating until smooth and even fluffier, about 1 minute longer. Beat in the lemon juice and zest. Spoon the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll it into a log about 6 inches long and about 1 inch in diameter. Twist the ends to secure. Refrigerate until ready to use.


    Make the pancakes: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove it from the heat, tilt the pan, and part the surface foam with a spoon. Spoon 2 teaspoons of clear yellow butterfat into a small bowl and set aside. Pour the buttermilk into the saucepan with the remaining butter to warm it slightly. Set a well-seasoned 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat to warm for about 10 minutes while you finish making the batter. The skillet is hot enough when droplets of water flicked onto its surface sizzle on contact.


    Turn the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk the egg in a medium mixing bowl. Add the warm buttermilk mixture to the egg and whisk well to combine. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry all at once and whisk lightly to combine.


    Dip a heatproof basting brush in the reserved butter and brush it across the surface of the hot skillet. Drop pancakes one at a time into the pan with a small ladle or ¼-cup measure—there will be room for 4 pancakes. When the pancakes are nicely browned on the bottom and have begun to bubble on the top, 2 to 3 minutes, flip the cakes and brown the other sides, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Take the pancakes from the skillet, regrease the skillet, and cook the next batch. (If the batter becomes too thick over the course of making the pancakes, thin it with a little milk.) Serve the pancakes hot off the griddle with Lemon Butter and Blueberry Compote as we suggest—or with a good old-fashioned dose of warm maple syrup.