Do you like buckwheat? When I lived in Japan I used to eat buckwheat soba noodles all the time, and a few years ago I started making buckwheat pancakes which have become a favorite. The taste is a little bit like whole wheat or whole grain versus white flour, but not wheat-y. Buckwheat isn’t actually grain—it isn’t a grass, but a plant that produces seeds that are used like wheat, hence the name. It is completely gluten-free. So if you are trying to avoid gluten for any reason (my mother and I are a bit sensitive to gluten), buckwheat is a great option.
Many recipes that use buckwheat, mix buckwheat flour with all purpose flour. You can certainly do that with this waffle recipe if you want; the gluten in the all purpose flour will help create structure in the waffles. With this recipe I was looking for a method that would produce waffles that were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with 100% gluten-free buckwheat flour. So, to help this batter achieve structure, that in my opinion a waffle demands (more so, say than a pancake), we are pulling out all the guns. We are using baking powder, which will help with leavening, as well will the combination of baking soda and plain yogurt. We are also using extra egg whites, whipping them, and folding them into the batter. The result is more air in the batter, creating a fluffy interior, and structure for the waffle, so the outside is crisp, not spongy.
I made several batches of these waffles, varying the number of egg whites, whipping and not whipping the egg whites, and even trying an overnight yeast-based rise for the batter. The following recipe is what I ultimately settled on. I can eat these straight without any added syrup or butter, and still want more.
Are you a crispy waffle person? or a fluffy waffle person? When I asked the question on Facebook recently, almost everyone said “crispy”. Almost everyone else said, “crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside”. I do have friends that just want them fluffy, and could care less about the crisp. Here’s the deal, cook them in your waffle maker to a light brown, and they will be fluffy. Cook them longer, and the outside will start to get browner and crispier.
The fluffiness of these waffles is greatly enhanced by whipping the egg whites and folding them into the waffle batter. The whipped egg whites also help to provide structure for the waffles. You can skip this step, but the result will be a little more dense. When whipping egg whites it's important that everything that touches the egg whites is very clean. Even the smallest amount of fat, butter, or egg yolk can interfere with the whip-ability (is that a word?) of the egg whites. So make sure you separate the eggs carefully, and remove any specks of egg yolk that may have wandered into the whites (it's easiest to do that with a large piece of egg shell).
You can substitute the plain yogurt and milk combination with buttermilk.
- 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 2 eggs, separated, plus 2 additional egg whites for extra lightness
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 cup milk (low fat or regular)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- Extra pats of butter for serving
- Heated maple syrup for serving
- Berries for serving
1 Turn on your waffle maker, with the setting on medium. In a large bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
2 Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer or egg beater. Sprinkle in the sugar as you beat the egg whites. Beat egg whites until you have soft peaks.
3 In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the melted butter, yogurt, milk, and water.
4 Pour the yogurt/milk/butter/egg mixture into the buckwheat flour mixture and stir until just combined. It's okay if it's a little lumpy. Fold a third of the beaten egg whites into the batter until completely incorporated. Gently fold the remaining beaten egg whites into the batter until just combined, and there are no streaks of egg whites. Be gentle so that you do not deflate the egg whites too much.
5 When your waffle maker is ready, working in batches, pour or spoon the batter into the wells, until they almost come to the edge. You will know if you've over-filled it because the batter will spill out of the waffle maker. No harm done, but it's a little messy. I like to grease the inside of my waffle maker with a little butter, to help make it easy to remove the waffles. Cook until the waffle maker indicator indicates that the waffles are ready, or wait until steam stops rising out of the waffle maker. Gently pull the waffles out with a fork.
As you make the batches, the batter may thicken while it sits. If you want, thin it out a bit with some water.
Getting the right balance of doneness is key here. Lightly browned means the waffles will be fluffy, but not crisp. Dark brown means the waffles may be crispy, but a little dry inside. It depends on your preference and your waffle maker. You may need to experiment with a few test waffles to see what works best for you.
Serve with pads of butter, warmed maple syrup, and fresh berries.