Healthy, gluten-free and delicious Russian style buckwheat pancakes made from only 5 ingredients in 20 minutes! Garnish them with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, beluga lentils and dill for a truly Russian flavor.
This week is Maslenitsa, Slavic pancake week and I’m celebrating with this Russian style mini buckwheat pancakes! These healthy, gluten-free, hearty and delicious buckwheat pancakes are made from only five ingredients! We ate them both as a savory appetizer with salmon, crème fraîche, beluga lentils and dill and as a sweet breakfast dish with jam and honey. Buckwheat pancakes have a nice nutty and rich flavor and they are definitely worth to make!
Buckwheat is fairly underrated in Western cuisine, although it is packed with nutrients, high quality protein, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. It’s a great source of manganese, magnesium, dietary fiber, copper and phosphorus. It improves digestion and heart health, has anti-inflammatory effect, can helps prevent diabetes and cancer, while being non-allergenic and rich in nutrients. Buckwheat is a superfood indeed, so I recommend you to include it in your diet if you haven’t done it yet. It can be a nice gluten-free substitute for more common grains like wheat, rye and oats.
As for the buckwheat flour, I will share a little secret with you today. I have an old Soviet coffee grinder I got from my grandmother, which I use for making any type of flour from any grains (and I don’t remember the least time I bought sugar powder). The modern equivalent would be this cheap and efficient Kitchen Aid coffee grinder. It will save you money in a long term, because buying whole grains and making flour by yourself is much cheaper than buying packaged flour, especially when it comes to more exotic types like quinoa, buckwheat, spelt, etc. Moreover, you can control the process entirely. All you have to do is grind your grains and sift them before using.
Speaking of the pancakes I made for Maslenitsa, they are super easy and incredibly flavorful. You just make a rather liquid batter from buckwheat flour, buttermilk, egg, a pinch of salt and baking soda. Heat a large frying pan and add one tablespoon of batter for each pancake. Wait until they become bubbly, flip over and fry for about 30 seconds more. You can obviously make them normal size and not mini, just pour more batter into the pan. For the savory Russian style garnishing I used smoked salmon, crème fraîche (sour cream would also fit), beluga lentils and dill and it makes a great appetizer for a party or dinner. You can totally eat them with sweet garnishes as well, as their taste is neutral and not overly salty. Traditionally, sweet garnishes for Russian pancakes include jams, condensed milk, honey and berries. Not so much syrups, but if you feel like it, why not?
A couple of words about the reason why nearly every East Slavic family is making pancakes this week (and mine is no exception). Eastern Europe is a place where pagan traditions are combined with religion and Soviet heritage, making a strange but fun mix of things to celebrate. We like celebrations! We just can’t help celebrating the fact that winter is finally over and spring is on its way. This is so amazing that the fest lasts for the whole week! It’s called Maslenitsa ( pancake week or butter week) and it’s the oldest surviving Russian holiday, according to Wikipedia. It obviously has pagan origins but at the same time it is incorporated into Orthodox calendar. It nicely fits in, as it preserves the ancient tradition, while giving religious omnivores a chance to stuff themselves one last time before Lent (vegan fasting before Easter). The whole week you are supposed to have fun and enjoy Slavic winter activities, like ice skating, sledding, snowball fighting, as well as eating pancakes. Their round shape and golden color has been considered a symbol of sun and they were believed to help rewarm the frozen earth and welcome spring.
Nowadays, Maslenitsa is a nice occasion to celebrate Russian traditions, especially for expats like me. Normally, I make traditional Russian pancakes, but from time to time I like to make something special, so here is a recipe of my Russian style mini buckwheat pancakes for you: