Beautiful Buckwheat

Griddle cakes take this tasty flour to a delicious level.

article image
by Flickr/Minder Cheng
Buckwheat flowers almost make groats a pretty sight.

The closest I’ve been to buckwheat is a pillow filled with husks. Reading about common buckwheat, however, has been a great incentive to add it to my pantry.

Cultivated in Europe and Asia for centuries, buckwheat was a staple in the 1700s and 1800s in the United States. Nowadays, Canada and China are the top producers, and while buckwheat fell out of favor in the United States in the 1960s, it is making a comeback as a so-called “superfood.”

Buckwheat isn’t a true grain, although it is used as if it were; it’s actually related to rhubarb. Gardeners among you will recognize the plant as an excellent so-called green manure crop. The seed is milled into flour, which most often is used for griddle cakes, and groats (the kernel after the hull is removed) can be used for breakfast foods, porridge or as a thickening agent. You might recognize the name groats are known by in Eastern Europe – kasha.

The “superfood” label comes from buckwheat’s healthful components. It is a great source of protein building blocks, especially lysine, which is an essential amino acid needed to build body proteins and to facilitate calcium absorption. Buckwheat is a low-glycemic food, which is good for diabetics, and it assists in lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It is low-fat, high in minerals and vitamins, and it contains more water-soluble fiber than many traditional grains. And to top it off, buckwheat contains no gluten, making it a welcome addition to menus for those suffering from celiac disease.

Buckwheat is also a popular flower with beekeepers, who enjoy the dark, strong-flavored honey that bees produce from it. The Japanese prize buckwheat for use in soba noodles. And, of course, in these parts, those buckwheat griddle cakes are all the rage. Enjoy the recipes!

If you’d like to send in a request for a recipe to appear in Recipe Box, we’ll try to use it as quickly as possible. Any responses to recipe requests are sent to Grit, rather than the individual, so we can print a few in future issues. When mailing multiple responses, please place each recipe on a separate sheet with your complete contact information (name, mailing address and phone number), and include that information with any email correspondence, as well.

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Just the cakes, ma’am…

buckwheat pancakes topped with syrup and banana slices

John Mackeller, Grand Haven, Michigan, is looking for a buckwheat pancake recipe that uses a starter and harkens from the 1940s and ’50s.

Jean Harmon, Three Rivers, Michigan, sends a recipe found in Sourdough Cookin’ by James E. Neal.

Sourdough Starter

  • 1 yeast cake or 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups warm water

In glass or plastic jar, thoroughly mix yeast, flour and warm water. Don’t use metal. Set mixture aside in warm place (85° to 95°) for overnight at least. By next day, mixture should be bubbly and have pleasant yeast smell. This starter should be ready to use for anything you want to make. To keep starter going, feed it by adding 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Blend well. After you feed starter, do not use it for 24 hours.

Sourdough Buckwheat Pancakes

  • 1 cup Sourdough Starter
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 3/4 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup white flour
  • 2 large eggs, well beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup half and half or milk
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda

In large bowl, combine starter, water and flours; keep overnight. Next morning, stir in remaining ingredients. Let mixture bubble 10 minutes. Bake on griddle using 1/4 cup batter for each cake. Makes 2 dozen 5-inch pancakes.

Foolproof biscuits

buttermilk biscuits in a paper towel lined bowl

Doris Matt, Lewiston, Minnesota, would like a biscuit recipe that calls for baking powder and an egg.

Gayle Brown, San Jose, California, sends a recipe with a great name. She writes, “This recipe is a family favorite that comes from my grandmother. The biscuits are delicious with a hearty stew, or as a sweet treat spread with butter and honey. They are almost foolproof; just don’t handle the dough too much.”

Cloud Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk
  1. Heat oven to 450°F.
  2. In large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening.
  3. Combine egg and milk; add to flour mixture all at once. Stir until dough follows fork around bowl.
  4. Turn out on floured surface. Knead 20 strokes. Roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut straight down with biscuit cutter or floured juice glass. May chill dough 1 to 3 hours, if desired.
  5. Bake 10-14 minutes on lightly oiled cookie sheet. Yields 2 dozen biscuits.

Note: You may add an extra 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar to dough, which makes a sweet biscuit that is delicious piled high with strawberries and whipped cream.

Poetic pastries

homemade donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar

Barbara Lowe, Streator, Illinois, writes: “I’m looking for a doughnut recipe my mother had with the ingredients and amounts in rhyme.”

This is one of those requests I thought might not receive a response. What was I worrying about?! Our readers came through yet again.

There were two slightly different versions. Robert Bacon, East Thetford, Vermont, sends this version, and writes, “This is from New Home magazine or cookbook, and it is over 70 years old.”

Doughnuts in rhyme

One cup of sugar, one cup of milk,
Two eggs beaten fine as silk;
Salt and nutmeg, (lemon will do),
Of baking powder teaspoons two.
Lightly stir the flour in,
Roll on pie board, not too thin.
Cut in diamonds, twists or rings,
Drop with care the doughy things
Into the fat, that briskly swells
Evenly the spongy cells.
Watch with care the time for turning.
Fry them brown, just short of burning.
Roll in sugar, serve them cool.
Price a quarter for this rule.

And John Staedt, Port Matilda, Pennsylvania, did an Internet search and found this version.

Donuts in Rhyme

1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk,
2 eggs (beaten, smooth as silk)
Salt, nutmeg or lemon will do
Baking powder, teaspoons 2
Flour lightly, stir this in
Roll on pie board, not too thin
Cut in diamonds, twist or rings
Drop with care, these doughy things
Into fat that quickly swells
Evenly, those spongy cells.
Fry until brown, keep on turning
Just enough to keep from burning
Cool on paper, serve when cool.
This is a never failing rule.

A note was added: 1/2 teaspoon spices, enough flour for donut batter consistency. Fry in hot fat.

Fried red tomatoes

red vine ripe tomato bunch

Mary Lou Hill, Jefferson, Oregon, writes in search of a recipe for breaded tomatoes or scalloped tomatoes.

We received a number of recipes; Dorothy Watson, Garrettsville, Ohio, sends a copy of a page from Granddaughter’s Inglenook Cookbook. She says, “When each of my grandmother’s grandchildren married, we received a copy of this cookbook. For me, that was 61 years ago.”

Scalloped Tomatoes

  • 2 cups bread crumbs, buttered
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes
  • Onion and green pepper, optional
  • 1/2 pound cheese, shredded optional
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter casserole; set aside.

Place half of the buttered crumbs in prepared casserole; add tomatoes with onion and green pepper, if desired, and cover with shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with remainder of crumbs. Bake about 45 minutes, or until nicely browned. Fresh tomatoes may be used.

Variation: Omit cheese and green pepper and replace bread crumbs with dry toast. Make as for Scalloped Tomatoes, pouring 1 cup rich sour cream over mixture in casserole.


  • Christy Stinger, Bellevue, Nebraska, would like to know if you can make jelly from the fruit of choke cherry trees. Does anyone have a recipe to share?
  • Sandra Upton, Summit, New York, hopes others will share recipes for goat milk soap.
  • Maria Krueger, Datil, New Mexico, is searching for a recipe for a tortilla made with potatoes. She says the name sounds something like “lefthsa.” (Perhaps Maria is thinking of the Norwegian potato flatbread known as “lefse”?)
  • Carol Dickersheid, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, hopes to end a years-long search for a no-bake cherry cookie recipe. “Years ago, I found a recipe for a cookie on the back of a vanilla wafer box from Nabisco. I remember it had vanilla wafers crushed, almond extract, Karo syrup, orange juice, maraschino cherries and colored sugar.”
  • Ray Urban, Bossier City, Louisiana, remembers that, back in the 1930s, Grit published classified ads for California beer seeds. He remembers making a batch, but has had no luck finding a recipe.
  • Helen Thomas, Coos Bay, Oregon, is looking for a recipe for graham yogurt bread. She thinks it might have come from Grit.

If you’ve been looking for a long-lost recipe, or can provide one, please write to Recipe Box, c/o Grit, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 or email us at Please include your name, address and daytime phone. Recipes cannot be returned as they are eventually sent to the person requesting the recipe. Recipe requests and responses will be printed at our discretion and as space allows. Addresses are not printed to allow Grit the opportunity to publish recipes before sending them on to the requesting party.