I like to fantasize about baking more than I actually like to do it. I envision the therapeutic feel of the dough, the soothing smells that waft through the house and the delight on people’s faces when you present your results. In reality, however, baking feels messy and cumbersome to me, with all of the sticky bowls and flour-dusted surfaces and the necessary process of measuring. Plus, believe it or not, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so if I take the time to bake something sugary, I rarely eat much of it.
But here’s the thing: Now is an incredible time bake. In this particular health-obsessed, artisan-made, heritage-everything era, flour is no longer just flour and sugar is no longer just sugar. We now have things like stone-ground spelt flour from local mills and honey from the community garden across the street. Also, thanks to brands like Bob’s Red Mill, there are so many new varieties of whole grain flours and other alternative flours widely available that add incredible flavors to baked goods.
I’ve been working on an editorial project that explores some of these ingredients, and it’s put me in the mood to bake more at home. For all of October, I’m going to be playing around with some of these ingredients and trying out some new (and newish) baking books that explore this new world. To kickstart the month, I’m sharing a riff on the easiest ever pancake recipe by Mark Bittman. I swapped out some of the all-purpose flour for earthy buckwheat flour, which works so nicely with melted coconut oil. Instead of regular milk, I used store-bought hazelnut milk (someday, I’ll get around to making my own). Usually when I eat pancakes, I’m hungry an hour later. These actually felt sustaining and kept me satisfied until lunch.
- Plum Compote
- 6 Italian prune plums or other small plums, pitted and cut into wedges
- 1 tablespoon muscovado or dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups hazelnut milk, plus more as desired
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons liquid virgin coconut oil, plus more for cooking
- In a small saucepan, combine the plums with the brown sugar and water. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the plums start to soften and release some of their juice, about 6 minutes; keep warm.
- Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. In a bowl, whisk the flours with the baking powder, sugar and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the milk with the eggs and 2 tablespoons coconut oil Gently stir this mixture into dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten flour; don't worry about a few lumps. If batter seems thick, add a little more milk.
- Brush the griddle or skillet with coconut oil. Ladle batter onto griddle or skillet to make any sized pancakes. Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to surface and bottoms brown, after 2 to 4 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary; usually, the first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches.
- Cook until second side is lightly browned. Serve, or hold on an ovenproof plate in a 200°F oven for up to 15 minutes.