Wednesday, January 18, 2012

buckwheat baby with salted caramel syrup

buckwheat baby with salted caramel

Yesterday morning, at last, I handed in my cookbook’s edits. And I know, you’re thinking, “but I thought you already handed your book in?” and I had. Copyedits, which come back six weeks later, are like closing costs (or so I understand) when you buy a house. You think you’re all done and just have some papers to sign/designs to approve and then wham! Comparatively, writing a book is a cinch. Writing is like splashing bright paint all over a giant white canvas — look at all of those lovely words all lined up! Aren’t they darling? Copyedits are like measuring the space between each mark of paint and having to answer questions like, “This splatter is .25 inches from that splatter, and you call it a ‘blue splatter’ but this one is .5 inches away and labeled ‘splatter, blue’. Was this intentional?” There were about three of these questions on each of 390 pages, and yet despite the fact that this work consumed the last 21 days of my life, I frequently wanted to HUG this poor copy editor who managed to wade through my blather and find small adjustments that made sentences sing. She is a saint.

the makings of caramel
caramel stages

Nevertheless, the three weeks I worked on this had some unintended side effects, the first is that I missed you all terribly. I dreamed of nothing but buckwheat pancakes, buttermilk chicken and hearty winter slaws and could not wait to get back into the kitchen again. However, the saddest side effect of being swallowed up by work for a few weeks was oddly not that I now have something my husband calls my “editing pants.” (What? They’re soft and comfortable and they have pockets! And now we must burn them.) but from my son, who is now enough of a two year-old that he’s capable of telling it like it is: After three weeks of his mama having no time to cook, he now sees an I NY bag and hollers “DINNER’S HERE!” Oh, the shame. It burns.

copper caramel

deep, dark salted caramel
buckwheat flour
just a little butter

But this, this is still not dinner — I needed to ease back in — although it made a decadent late breakfast and toddler lunch, one that did not come from a delivery bag. My inspiration was a Breizh galette I had years ago in Paris. (Of course, I only took a photo of my beer, because I’m classy.) It’s like a regular crepe, except it has buckwheat flour in it and the result is a lacy, thin pancake that’s has a vague sour note to it that’s fantastic. They’re served savory, filled with eggs, cheese and ham (or, in short, yes please) or sweet, with a deep, dark salted caramel. Dutch baby pancakes have always reminded me of tousled, ruffled crepes, and here I tried to mash the two of them up. I made two versions, one with half buckwheat flour — this is the one photographed here, and it was rumpled (more so before I finally got my camera out) and delightful. The all-buckwheat version was delicious, but alas, it did not loop and curl, and a Dutch baby that does not fall like a rumpled bed sheet in a buttery skillet is no Dutch baby at all. It did not, however, go uneaten.

buckwheat baby, caramel carried away
a serving

One year ago: and Baked Potato Soup
Two years ago: Poppy Seed Lemon Cake, Black Bean Soup with Toasted Cumin Seed Crema and Cranberry Syrup (and an Intensely Almond Cake)
Three years ago: Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew, Almond Vanilla Rice Pudding, Light Wheat Bread and Clementine Cake
Four years ago: Lemon Bars
Five years ago: English Muffins and a Frisee Salad

Buckwheat Baby with Salted Caramel Syrup

Makes 1 12-inch pancake and 3/4 cup salted caramel syrup (really, sauce but with a slip more cream to thin it further), which will be much more than you need, and will set you up well for next time/heaven-on-a-scoop-of-vanilla-ice cream. This pancake can also be divided and cooked in two 9-inch skillets (12 to 15 minutes baking). I have made this pancake successful with only 2 instead of 3 tablespoons of butter in the pan but only recommend this if you have excellent faith in your pan’s seasoning. As noted above, I have also made this with 100% buckwheat flour and the result is tasty, but didn’t rumple.

Two photo notes: The photos show me making a double volume of the syrup because I apparently like to torture myself with extra sauce in the fridge. It also shows me using a larger volume of butter (4T) than I found necessary in ensuing batches.

Serves 2 (for breakfast) to 4 (for dessert) or 6 to 8 (as a dainty dessert)

Caramel syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or, salted but ease up on the sea salt)
Two pinches flaked or fine sea salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons buckwheat flour
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar, to dust (optional)
Salted caramel syrup

Make syrup: Melt the sugar over medium to moderately high heat in a larger pot than you think you’ll need–at least two quarts, whisking or stirring the sugar as it melts to ensure it heats evenly. Cook the liquefied sugar to a nice copper color. Add the sea salt and butter and stir until the butter melts. Lower the heat and slowly drizzle in the heavy cream, whisking the whole time. The sauce will foam and hiss; just ignore it and whisk until the sauce is smooth. Set aside until needed. Store in the fridge for up to a week. Rewarm gently to thin it out.

Make pancake: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the flours, sugar, salt, milk and eggs together in a medium bowl. Leaving a couple lumps behind is fine. Melt butter in a 12-inch cast skillet, preferably cast iron but any heavy ovenproof skillet should work. Roll the butter around a bit so it goes up the sides. Pour in the batter and transfer skillet to the oven. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the pancake browns lightly at the edges and rumpled. Transfer to a trivet, dust with powdered sugar (if using), drizzle with salted caramel syrup and serve immediately in halves or wedges.


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