I’m really into spelt flour. I used to be into whole wheat pastry flour — and I do still like that — but my favorite flour with which to bake is currently spelt. When we lived in Morocco I made an interesting spelt-brown rice bread from Amy Chaplin’s cookbook At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen because I couldn’t find the chewy whole grain bread of my dreams. It was great. But bread-baking is the kind of enterprise one undertakes when you have loads of free time — or only one child. So I don’t often bake bread anymore. And that’s fine. My local health food market sells a stellar spelt sourdough. Of course I do make other flour-y things; cake, obviously, cookies, etc., and pancakes. My latest favorite recipe comes by my friend Amy Palinjian’s brilliant website yummytoddlerfood.com and is a perfect foil for spelt flour (she uses buckwheat flour; you could also use oat or a whole grain of choice).
Pancakes used to be a weekend treat but lately I’ve been making a batch on Thursdays for the girls. Often they’ll serve as lunch or at least the bridge between breakfast and lunch, especially throughout the upcoming weekend. This recipe makes enough so that I have enough leftover for at least another breakfast or snacks. I always have a batch of applesauce (or applesauce with, like strawberry — seriously this combination tastes like the most decadent dessert and would be glorious frozen in popsicles when warmer weather hits, note to self – or blueberry or raspberry) or pear sauce in the fridge for Elsie and I’ll make sure I have at least a cup’s worth so I can make these pancakes. I lean toward using pear sauce because I like that it means Sierra will get a serving of pears (she won’t eat them sliced nor will she eat any sort of fruit puree anymore …!) and the fruit is sweet enough that you don’t need any additional sugar. Amy suggests using mashed bananas and I’ll have to try that at some point – or a combination of bananas and sauce. Swapping applesauce for butter or oil is a tried and true trick and in many recipes you’ll hardly notice the difference. I have it in mind to do this next time I make waffles (the previous time I meant to but was so tired I completely forgot).
Spelt flour is considered a touch nuttier and more mellow in flavor — if we can ascribe human characteristics to flour — than whole wheat/whole wheat pastry flour. It’s probably equally as nutritious so it comes down to a matter of preference … and for the time being I prefer spelt. It’s also easy for me to find at the bulk market or the organic market (and the regular grocery stores too), making it an even more attractive buy.
I also prefer these pancakes. It would be hard to go back to more fussy ‘cakes made with buttermilk or butter (though my spelt-strawberry pancakes made with, yes, spelt flour and coconut oil, remain favorites) and as usual if I can lean on the side of healthful, I will. And for my kids, whole grains + fruit currently = a winning combination.
To make these gluten-free, swap oat flour for the spelt flour. To make vegan, omit the eggs, add 3 extra tablespoons of pear sauce, and use a non-dairy milk of choice in place of the whole milk.
Makes about 10 pancakes.
1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup unsweetened pear sauce (homemade if possible)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat a cast iron or nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Coat with neutral oil, butter, or nonstick spray. Spoon out 1/4 cup of the batter at a time—or less to make smaller pancakes—and spread to an even thickness about 1/2-inch thick. Let cook about 3 minutes or until the edges are set. Carefully flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately and repeat with the rest of the batter, or keep warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven.