And because, long ago, in my teens, in fact, which, wow, I can't even count that high, so, yeah, a really long time ago, over a decade, as long as I've had my trusty Nissan Sentra...
... I worked at the best breakfast restaurant in my home town of Aptos, California, the Red Apple Café.
Now, Aptos is a small unincorporated part of Santa Cruz County, with a population of just over 10,000 people these days (less when I lived there). Small town restaurants aren't always boast-worthy, I realize, and you might assume that saying the Red Apple Café is the best breakfast joint in town isn't saying much. But that's not true. Because, honestly, it's the best breakfast restaurant I've ever been to, at least of the traditional, big menu + hearty portions + cup of coffee never half-full variety. And I have seen several parts of the Western hemisphere and eaten A LOT of breakfasts. So I feel I can credibly say it's wonderful. Everything on the menu's wonderful. But, most relevant to this here post, they have excellent buckwheat pancakes, and they also have excellent peach pancakes when peaches are in season, and when I worked there - I mentioned that this was a long time ago, when I was a flirty girl just out of high school, right? - I was able to get the cooks to make me a combo peach-buckwheat pancake meal on occasion, and it was so good that I think about it still. Years and years and years later. (Incidentally, my specially-made peach-buckwheat pancakes were always served with Corralitos Market chicken apple sausage, a v. nice side dish, but, sadly, not one for which I have a recipe.)
I've always wanted to try my hand at a homemade version, but I'm not a pro when it comes to making pancakes - except I do make some quite noteworthy, or rather, awesome peanut butter pancakes, which will be the subject of another post sometime this fall or winter, I'm sure - so I had to start with a pretty specific recipe, particularly because I've had some bad luck improvising with buckwheat flour (which is super absorbant, and results in dried-out baked goods if you ever try to swap it for regular flour, so don't).
The recipe I used is from the Food Network website - the food celebrity person isn't even someone I've heard of, so I don't know what kind of food she generally makes, but the reviews were v. good, so I gave it a go and I'm glad I did. They were really tasty. Not necessarily comparable to the Red Apple Café ones, but... well, they used Krusteaz. I can't compete with that, and the odds of it finding its way into my kitchen are slim to none.
Peach Buckwheat Pancakes
Adapted from Elie Krieger
Yield: 4 servings; about 8-12 pancakes, depending on how big you make them
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt - see note below)
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or any oil, really, or melted and cooled butter or margarine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 peaches, thinly sliced
Butter, for cooking pancakes and to serve
Real maple syrup, to serve
In a large bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In another bowl, beat together the buttermilk or yogurt, milk, maple syrup, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing only enough to combine them so that there are no lumps.
Preheat a large nonstick griddle or skillet over a medium flame. Ladle the batter onto the skillet with a 1/4-cup measure. Working quickly, gently arrange a few peach slices on top of each pancake immediately after pouring batter onto skillet. Flip the pancake when it is golden brown on the bottom and bubbles are forming on top, about 1-1/2 minutes. Cook the other side until golden brown, about 1-1/2 minutes. Serve with butter and maple syrup.
NOTES: If I were less mindful of my waistline (which is not what it was when I worked at Red Apple Café), the only things I would do differently next time are the following: (1) Even using a nonstick griddle or skillet or whatever, I'd cook the pancakes in a bunch of butter. It just makes pancakes so much better, as I learned at Red Apple Café. The ever-so-delicate crisp around the edges of a pancake is one of my favorite parts. (2) I might try plain yogurt instead of buttermilk next time. I like me a thick pancake. These weren't overly thin by any means, but yogurt might make them even heartier, like the ones I dream about from long ago.