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The leftovers business

Today I want to talk about something that I hold very dear, and for once, I don’t mean Brandon. I want to talk about something made of flour, eggs, sugar, and milk, something cooked on top of the stove and served most often with syrup. I want to talk today about pancakes—or, more precisely, leftover pancakes. A hot, steaming short stack is nice every now and then, but in my humble opinion, the best part of a pancake breakfast is the stuff that’s left on the serving platter after everyone has eaten their share.

I discovered this small delight during my years of living alone, when a batch of pancake batter meant automatic leftovers. Once the little cakes were cool, I would slip them two at a time into sandwich baggies, slip the baggies into a heavy Ziplock bag, and stash them in the freezer. At first, I did it out of necessity—really, who could waste a perfectly good pancake?—but before long, I found myself whipping up batches of batter for the sole purpose of replenishing the supply in the freezer. Apparently, I love leftover pancakes.

Frozen, defrosted, or warmed in the toaster oven, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s delicious. Whether plain, with jam, or with peanut butter, the lowly leftover pancake makes a royally satisfying snack at nearly any hour: after work and pre-cocktail, mid-morning, or at midnight. [Given that I’ve expounded at quite some length on my sentiments toward brunch, it should come as no surprise that I eat my pancakes at odd hours.] I’ve been known to eat buttermilk pancakes straight from the baggie, plain and dry and delicious, and I’ll go for a gingerbread pancake straight from the freezer, still hard and icy. But for the last year, my favorite play on the theme has involved JetBlue and leftover blueberry buckwheat pancakes, which defrost with a lovely, delicate crumb and taste quite spectacular when eaten at the tail end of a red-eye, as the plane swoops down over early-morning Manhattan. That is my kind of pancake breakfast.

But now that the days of living alone—and, happily, all those red-eyes—are behind me, a batch of pancake batter doesn’t leave much for the freezer. So when I read a recipe for a Bundt cake whose flavor, the author wrote, is “reminiscent of buckwheat pancakes,” you’d better believe that I fired up the oven. Come snack time, the only thing better than a pancake, I figured, is a slice from a cake that tastes like one.

Luckily for us all, I figured right. As promised, this big, beautiful, wreath-shaped cake has all the toasty, nutty flavor of a buckwheat pancake, and more.

Impossibly tender and moist, this cake is rich but somehow still light on the tongue, and not too sweet. Its crumb shimmers prettily with moisture from the buttermilk and the berries, which explode into each bite. It’s about as close to refreshing as a cake can get, which makes it a very fine snack for a summer afternoon. It’s enough to put my pancake pan out of business—or the leftovers business, at least.

Buckwheat Bundt Cake with Blueberries
Adapted from Kitchen Sense, by Mitchell Davis

For the purposes of full disclosure, you should know that I received this book as a review copy, free of charge from the publisher. But I liked it enough to make it my nightstand reading for nearly a week—high praise in my house, free book or no—and then to actually cook from it. I had never heard of Mitchell Davis prior to all this, but I liked the feel of his book from the very start. His tone is easy, conversational, and confidence-inspiring—sufficiently so, in fact, to prompt me to bookmark about a dozen recipes. This buckwheat cake makes for a very tasty first foray.

If you would like to make the cake as Davis intended, replace the blueberries with ¾ cup chopped toasted walnuts, and be sure to use the orange zest that I have listed as optional below. It brings a fragrant orange note, which is nice but—I think—not entirely necessary.

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp orange zest, optional
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup honey
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and set a rack to the middle position. Grease and flour a standard-size (10- to 12-cup) Bundt pan, and set it aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder, and whisk to mix well. Add the orange zest, if desired, and whisk to distribute.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs to break them up; then add the buttermilk and whisk to mix well. Add the butter, honey, and vanilla, and whisk well. Don’t worry if the honey hardens a bit in the cool liquid; keep stirring, and it will dissolve. Likewise, if the melted butter cools into little shards, don’t fret. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones, and stir just to combine. If the melted butter has clumped, whisk very briefly but vigorously to smooth the batter. Do not overmix.

Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter about half of the blueberries over the top. Add another 1/3 of the batter, and top with the remaining blueberries. Top with the remaining batter. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake rises, pulls away from the edges of the pan, and springs back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Note: This cake is even better after it sits for a day or so, which means great leftovers. Wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature, it will keep for up to four days. It also freezes well.


Blogger Guru said...

Hola Molly,
Great post!
I´ve tried the cake just reading your description! Nice pics help :)

12:18 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger astillac said...

Hurrah for buckwheat! And new cookbooks!

2:06 AM, July 06, 2006  
Anonymous Tanna said...

Genius, yes I really think you are. We should all get more buckwheat! It's so healthy for us. And Blueberries are all about healthy. So what you have here is health at it's highest!! I'm so proud of you!
God, it's cake and it just has to be great!

5:15 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Jess said...


I am always a bit sad, and full of guilt when I toss leftover pancakes into the trash...little did I know that a leftover pancake might be worth saving! I figured they would get soggy...but now I'll have to give them a try!

I've had my eye on Kitchen Sense as well, and now I'll have to take the plunge and add it to the collection. The cake looks divine, by the way - there's something so pretty about a simple bundt cake.

Keep the beautiful posts comin'!


6:12 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Estelle said...

This recipe looks great! It's so hard to find recipes that call for buckwheat... Thanks!

8:30 AM, July 06, 2006  
Anonymous Stefanie Noble said...

That looks and sounds excellent. I'm always looking for new places to put blueberries and this seems like a great recipe for either breakfast, dessert, or a snack.

8:35 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Sam said...

I am not sure it is good for the state of my girth, but i just found out that the mini bakewell tarts I baked and blogged last week also freeze perfectly too!

8:40 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger lobstersquad said...

Since I stopped living alone, I no longer control leftovers very well, and it´s a pity, because they´re the best part of food, so many times.

9:36 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger SweetSarahJ said...

I love leftover chocolate chip pancakes. For some reason they taste so much better cold from the fridge than hot from the pan.

9:55 AM, July 06, 2006  
Anonymous Leah said...

Molly, I've been on a baking and cooking tear lately, (cookies and caramels and brownies, plus Brandon's salad and, yes, last night I made four little deviled eggs!!). It's all been so much fun, and I thought I was finally about to be able to really get into perusing my own recipe collection for hidden gems and overlooked delights.

And now you do this to me! Now I finally have to go invest in a bundt pan! Because oh lord do I love blueberries!

Next week. I swear. Next week I'll get involved with my recipe collection over here!

9:56 AM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Marilyn said...

I'm not sure how I feel about leftover pancakes, but leftover crepes, I can more than handle. Especially those with buckwheat and fruit/berries. This cake looks amazing; I should try it!

2:31 PM, July 06, 2006  
Anonymous Luisa said...

Only you, my dear, write post after post after post that seem to jump into my head and type out what I'm thinking. I've always wondered if leftover pancakes were worth the trouble of freezing and reheating - so thank you for answering my question! And for making regular pancake breakfasts a new must. And this cake!? It looks splendid. Buckwheat, in my opinion, is a glorious grain.

2:48 PM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, Guru! I hope it was tasty...

I'll second that, astillac. Hurrah!

Tanna, as far as cakes go, this one does qualify as pretty darn healthy. And darn tasty, too.

Jess, I'd better not catch you tossing leftover pancakes again, young lady! They are very, very worthy of being saved. Just make sure that they're thoroughly cool and dry - i.e. no butter or syrup on 'em - and they'll be fine. And as for Kitchen Sense, I highly recommend it. It's a great collection of recipes, from the good basic stuff to some very interesting combinations.

It's my pleasure, Estelle! I love the flavor and color of buckwheat, so I'm always happy to find a place to use it. Sounds as though you are too!

Stefanie, the blueberries were my improvisation, and I really loved the result. I was trying to capture the experience of a blueberry buckwheat pancake, and it worked! And it's perfect, yes, for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. Brandon - ever experimenting - even tried a slice with some warm chocolate ganache, and he gave it a hearty thumbs-up.

Sam, that's a wonderful - and VERY dangerous - discovery! I may be tempting fate and too-tight pants, but I really want to try those tarts...

Lobstersquad, I heartily agree. We just had a dinner made up entirely of leftovers, actually...

SweetSarahJ, I hear you. Cold pancakes, all the way!

Don't worry, Leah, my dear! Something tells me that your recipe collection will still be there whenever you're ready to return to it. Forge on with those cookies and caramels and brownies and salads and deviled eggs and buckwheat cakes, and you'll get there someday. I think.

Marilyn, if you like buckwheat, I can't imagine that you wouldn't be smitten with this cake. Give it a go...

A glorious grain indeed, ma chere Luisa! So go get to work on those pancake breakfasts, and yes, yes, yes, save those leftovers! It's perfect snacky stuff.

10:10 PM, July 06, 2006  
Anonymous LPC said...

I've never had a buckwheat cake before... wonder how that tastes like. Now, I have to find buckwheat flour in Paris!

7:09 AM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Helene said...

and I thought I was the only one loving frozen leftover pancakes...I do that too with waffles. Now I don't feel so weird. This cake recipe is going to be on my baking list this weekend. Thank you, can't wait to get that new cookbook.

11:33 AM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Tea said...

What a gorgeous cake! And I must tell you, I've solved my own leftover pancake problem. I know exactly how much to reduce the ingredients to make the number of pancakes I like to eat by my solitary self. I'm only thrown off when I have company and have to figure out how to restore the recipe! But no, I had never thought to freeze them; pancakes at the ready, that could be dangerous.

7:28 PM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Nic said...

This cake sounds wonderful, Molly. And I have some buckwheat flour in my kitchen just asking to be used! I hope I get a chance to try this this weekend.

7:57 PM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger lucette said...

I too thought I was the only one who liked leftover pancakes--this is like joining a support group! I especially like them with peanut butter and jam.

8:19 AM, July 08, 2006  
Blogger briana said...

Your cake (or my version at least) is currently cooling on a rack in the kitchen and - oh good lawd - it smells heavenly.

I replaced the blueberries with 1 1/2c pitted fresh cherries as I had them on hand and I admit, I couldn't help but pick off a crisp golden edge for a taste as soon as it came out of the bundt pan.

I can only imagine this gets better as it sits but I'm not sure it will last long enough to find out. My neighbors are already sniffing at the door...

Thank you (again) my dear.

12:49 PM, July 08, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

LPC, this was my first buckwheat cake too, and it did not disappoint! As for buckwheat flour in Paris, I would think it would be pretty easy to find - farine de sarrasin, right? Get thee to Monoprix...

Helene, you're very welcome. You're a smart woman there, with your frozen leftover pancakes and waffles!

Oh, but Tea, it's such a delicious kind of danger! You should tempt fate every now and then, don't you think? [And speaking of pancakes, I've been meaning to try your recipe for quite a while now. I love how thin they look - almost like a cakey crepe!]

Nic, I hope you had a chance to try it! You're such a busy baker - I'm always impressed by your prolific oven!

Lucette, I hear you - yum, yum, PB&J pancakes! I like this support group thing...

Briana, you are most certainly welcome! I'm so glad to hear that you gave the cake a go - and with cherries, no less! - and I hope it lived up to my description...

12:54 PM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

Wow! What is it about American baking? Earthy flavours, cinammon, blueberries. Something a little different and dare I say, wild. This pancake recipe does not lend itself to leftovers (no one has left any before!) and although new to me, will probably be well known in the US.

Buttermilk pancakes:

Sift 250g flour with 1.5tsp baking powder, pinch of salt and mix in 2 tbsp caster sugar. In a separate jug combine 500ml buttermilk, 50g melted butter, 2 egg yolks and 1 egg. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in the wet. Beat two egg whites until soft peaks form and mix a little with the batter prior to combining the rest. Cook as pancakes and serve with maple syrup.

Enough for 4 people (or leftovers).

4:40 AM, July 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a newcomer to your blog, but have enjoyed your posts. This recipe just sounded too good. I made it this weekend and it's wonderful! It got a thumbs up all around.


8:17 AM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger briana said...

Addendum to my comment. Cake had it's first real bite with a bunch of sweaty soccer enthusiasts on Saturday afternoon and the last bit was demolished in the gazebo as we watched the sun setting over Los Angeles.

Molly, this recipe is a keeper! Thanks, lovely.

8:48 AM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Tony, thanks for sharing your pancake recipe! I have been meaning to try one with beaten egg whites for a while now - it's supposed to make for a lovely texture - and yours might be just the ticket...

Oh, Karen, I'm so glad to hear it! And welcome to Orangette.

Well, thank you, dear Briana. I'm only sorry that I wasn't there in the gazebo too - a pretty sunset and buckwheat cake? Hot damn.

10:40 PM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger Pille said...

Molly - this looks fab! We use buckwheat a lot back home (buckwheat porridge is wonderful, for instance), but I've only ever used flour to make blinis. Now you've given me a reason to bake a cake instead!

2:10 AM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger Estelle said...

Hi Molly, I made the recipe last FRiday, halved the proportions, baked them in muffin tins, and replaced the bluberries by cherries (that's it for the changes). The cakes were very moist and tasted very rich, as you mentioned it, which is funny because ther was not so much butter in the batter. The buckwheat flavor was very strong, I liked it, but I would not recomment this to people who don't like buckwheat!! Thanks for the recipe.

7:17 AM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Pille, I've never tasted buckwheat porridge, but it sounds like just the thing for a cold winter morning. Yum!

Estelle, you're very welcome. I love the idea of turning this cake into muffins - génial! And I'm so glad that you liked them. You're right - they're not for the anti-buckwheat folks, but for those of us who like the stuff, mmm mmm...

3:13 PM, July 13, 2006  
Anonymous Emily said...

Molly- how YUMMY! I did make the cake and oh how I loved it. I had my brother and boyfriend both jumping for the last piece! Thank you for sharing. :D - Emily ps. yay for pancakes, breakfast in general!

12:32 AM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

I'm so glad to hear it, Emily! Thank you for giving it a go...

12:46 PM, July 18, 2006  
Anonymous Karly said...

Molly- I made this as muffins and man are they good! I plan on keeping these handy in the freezer for a quick breakfast. Thank you for all of your great recipes. Your Lima beans are my favorite and I'm making the romaine salad today.

8:56 AM, July 29, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

You're very welcome, Karly! And great idea about the muffins - I should try some of those myself! What a perfect single-serving breakfast...

1:59 PM, August 01, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi Molly,

I made the buckwheat cake this weekend and absolutely loved it. I have a soft spot for buckwheat (being Russian and all), but I think it was a really fabulous recipe. I'll try it with black currants instead of blue berries next time for more tang. Thanks for the inspiration :)


10:41 AM, August 21, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Helen, I'm so happy to hear that! And about those black currants - what a good suggestion! A little tang would be lovely here. Cheers to you.

11:16 AM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Molly,
The link to your blueberry buckwheat pancake recipe on saucy doesn't work anymore...any chances you can repeat the recipe here? :)

4:47 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

Oh no! You're right, Anonymous. I think Saucy let their domain name expire. Harumph! But as for my buckwheat pancake recipe, I have to say, I've improved it a lot since I ran that recipe on Saucy. I can't post my new version here, though, because it's for my book. Sorry to be coy - I hope you'll understand. In the meantime, if I were you, I'd play with taking a basic buttermilk pancake recipe and tweaking it to use buckwheat. I'd replace, say, 1/3 of the white flour with buckwheat.

Hope that helps!

2:09 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will experiment, indeed. But it's just one more reason (as if I needed one) to look forward to your book! :)

11:57 AM, July 25, 2007  
Anonymous pumpkinpie said...

Mmm! I made this with blueberries and toasted walnuts. I had to bake it for 65 minutes, but it was worth the wait. Thanks for the recipe!

5:01 AM, November 29, 2007  
Blogger Whitney said...

Thanks for the frozen pancake tip. I tried this cake last weekend and am sad to say it didn't work for me which I think was probably my fault and not the recipe's. I don't have a bundt pan so I halved the batter and poured it into 2 small loaf pans. I put them in the oven and went running leaving my boyfriend to keep an eye on them. I think he probably took them out to early because they were starting to brown on top and he didn't know to just cover them with foil. They had cracked in the oven and new batter and started to come up the crack-- do you know what that means? After he took them out they totally sank and then were very dense. I couldn't take them to the dinner party I went to but even though they were really dense we managed to finish them off within a few days. They were a little oily, though. I used soba flour which I think is the same as buckwheat flour but I will try again keeping a better eye on the cooking time. If you have any suggestions I'm all ears. Thanks.

8:18 AM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Rosiecat said...

Oh, Molly, I should have listened to you! I was so inspired by your mini-review of Kitchen Sense that I borrowed the book (it's hefty!) from the library over the weekend to check it out. I got a little over-zealous with the orange zest, encouraged as I was by Mitchell Davis to use the zest of a whole orange. It smelled absolutely WONDERFUL while baking, but I'm afraid all that orange zest over-powered the delicate flavors of blueberries and buckwheat. Gah! I should have listened to you--how could I have doubted your sage baking advice?

At any rate, I think the cake is interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about buckwheat--it does taste a little strange to me, but perhaps a girl ought to try buckwheat in small doses first before committing to it so wholeheartedly? The cake does have a lovely moist crumb, and the blueberries were an inspired tweak. And I got to use my brand-new Bundt pan for the first time, and THAT may have been the best part!

4:11 PM, July 09, 2008  
Blogger Katya said...

I live for leftover pancakes. Since I don't believe in eating pancakes sitting at the table anyway (and I'm usually the one cooking them so I get to eat them however I like), it's a natural extension. Never thought of freezing them, though. This cake is perfect perfect. I made it with lemon zest and a sparse layer of chocolate shavings (the boyfriend insisted) and than an upper layer of thick blueberry jam. The interesting thing? I picked up Kitchen Sense a few years ago and the only recipe I've ever used from it is for...buttermilk pancakes.

9:52 AM, March 03, 2009  
Blogger Danielle said...

This recipe has been sitting in my to-do pile for over a year, and I finally made it today. I guess this isn't saying much, because there really are very few cakes/cupcakes that I enjoy, but this is my new favorite cake. Exactly what I was hoping for. Thank you!

2:32 PM, July 04, 2009  
Blogger Danielle said...

Also, I must admit I had a slice for breakfast this morning with (blasphemy!) fresh ground peanut butter. It was delicious. Next time, almond butter. No apologies. And one more thank you!

4:34 PM, July 05, 2009  
Blogger auj012 said...

Great looking cake, I am allergic to dairy, can I substitute the buttermilk with something non dairy ?

12:34 PM, January 08, 2010  
Blogger Vanessa said...

FYI dairy free buttermilk, 2 cups buttermilk equals a 2 cup measure that includes 2 TBL acid (lemon juice, vinegar, etc), and the rest of the cup soymilk. Am moving and needed to use up pantry/freezer supplies. AKA cranberries from Thanksgiving, walnuts, candied orange peel... so good in this cake.

9:41 AM, April 19, 2010  
Blogger Tracy said...

This was very good, but I'm wondering if the baking powder amount is correct. The cake seemed to rise too soon and then fall before it was done so I would cut the amount of baking powder in half next time.

9:09 AM, June 12, 2010  
Blogger Akanksha said...

The buckwheat cake recipe looks very interesting.. Can't wait to try it! I don't get fresh blueberries or cherries in India, what can I substitute for them? Pecans or walnuts or any other fruit? Pls suggest.

8:40 PM, March 27, 2013  
Blogger Molly said...

Akanksha, you could use any kind of soft fruit you like! Just cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Or you could substitute nuts. I'll bet that would be wonderful, too.

7:37 PM, March 29, 2013  
Blogger Amber said...

made this with raspberries instead of blueberries, and maple syrup instead of honey. lovely cake. the buckwheat flavor really shines. And bonus points since it came together effortlessly while I was playing restaurant with my 4 year old.

6:53 PM, September 10, 2013  
Blogger sbs said...

I read all through the comments today looking for others that might have found tweeks necessary to keep the cake from being solid. I have made it twice, both times in a regular bundt pan, with no recipe modifications. I adored the flavors but it had to bake more than twice as long as directed and it still was the consistency of fudge on the inside. It didn't ever seem to rise very much. Help! What do I add more of or less of? Thanks for any advice you can offer.

12:52 PM, November 10, 2013  
Blogger Molly said...

sbs, I'm so sorry! That sounds awful. I wish I knew what went wrong. My two guesses are: 1) could your baking powder be old? That could certainly cause the cake to not rise well. And 2) as for the cake not baking through, do you keep a thermometer in your oven? I wonder if your oven is running too cold? Wish I could be of more help...

1:08 PM, November 15, 2013  

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