My interest in spelt flour I can attribute, and gratefully so, to my sister-in-law Emily. I’d not heard of it before she went gluten-free, and while it is not without gluten it does contain a bit less of it thus making it suitable for those who might have a gluten intolerance rather than full celiac disease. For the rest of us it’s simply a wonderful and nutritious addition to baked goods. I like to incorporate spelt flour into a delicious and hearty loaf from Amy Chaplin’s brilliant cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, tuck it into cookies, fold it into cakes, swap out half the all-purpose flour in my favorite muffin recipe. To appease my recent pancake penchant I rather unsurprisingly alighted upon the idea of making a batch using spelt flour, maple syrup and strawberries.
I love spelt because it’s a whole grain and I am utterly and unapologetically partial to whole grains. I also love its flavor — slightly nutty, slightly sweet and with a milder flavor than whole wheat flour. Including it in pancakes makes for a lighter and fluffier crumb that’s gently bound together with just one egg and a little coconut oil.
After two years spent living North Africa and now the Middle East I’ve gotten into the habit of always keeping a bottle of what we Westerners would call buttermilk (laban in Saudia Arabia, leben in Morocco) and pancakes just aren’t right without its addition. For this version, I opted to chop a handful of strawberries and stir them into the batter instead of piling them on top of the stack in a nod to the cornmeal pancake recipe I developed two years ago.
I made up two platefuls of pancakes and served them alongside banana-almond milk shakes (omit the dates) for a quick weekday breakfast. They’re on the agenda again for this Friday, when we can enjoy them at a more leisurely pace along with extra cups of coffee.
I will always argue in favor of buttermilk, but to make this recipe dairy-free, use your favorite non-dairy milk and slip in a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar 5 minutes before you incorporate it into the batter. To make gluten-free, swap the spelt for a cup of (gluten-free) oat flour or your gluten-free flour of choice. You might like to try these with blueberries instead of or in addition to the strawberries. This recipe can be easily doubled with good results.
Makes 8 smallish pancakes.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup spelt flour or gluten-free oat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, egg, and buttermilk.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add strawberries and toss gently to coat.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined.
Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. When skillet is hot, take 1/4 cup of batter and pour onto skillet. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, until pancake begins to bubble slightly. Flip and let cook for another 1-2 minutes until pancake is cooked through. If you’re feeling particularly decadent, melt a sliver of butter (or use coconut oil) in the pan before pouring in the batter for each cake.