When you hear “buckwheat flour” what comes to mind? My first thought is always soba noodles followed by pancakes. But other than those two, I never gave buckwheat flour much thought.
However, after weeks of working with this hearty flour, I’m amazed at all the different ways you can incorporate this healthier ingredient into your baking and cooking (hello buckwheat gravy 😉 ).
What is Buckwheat Flour?
While it can be confusing, buckwheat is not actually related to wheat. In fact, it’s actually a pseudocereal from a fruit seed, which happens to be closely related to rhubarb (https://www.hodgsonmill.com/products/buckwheat-flour). Because of this, buckwheat is naturally gluten-free. However, if you’re avoiding gluten, make sure that the flour you’re buying was produced in a gluten-free facility to avoid potential cross-contamination.
While soba noodles are a popular use of buckwheat flour, the Japanese don’t get to have all the fun. Buckwheat crepes are common in Russia and other parts of Europe, while kuttu ki puri is a fried Indian flatbread made from buckwheat flour and potatoes. Buckwheat pancakes and waffles are also becoming more common at trendy breakfast spots in the US
As far as taste goes, buckwheat has an earthy, rustic flavor. When the only flour is buckwheat, the final product will be on the heavier side with a slight bitterness. This is important to keep in mind when thinking about recipes to use it in. If you’re looking for a light and fluffy pancake, you may want to go with another flour, or find a recipe that uses a combinations of flours to lighten things up.
As I started to elude to above, buckwheat flour is super nutritious. In general, ¼ cup of buckwheat flour contains 100 calories, 1 gram fat (0 grams saturated fat), 21 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber, 0 grams sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
I particularly love the fiber content, as a high fiber diet is associated with decreased risk of many chronic diseases and a healthy digestive system.
In addition to being a good source of fiber and protein, buckwheat flour is also a good source of iron, B vitamins, potassium, and antioxidants.
How to Select
As with all flours, I recommend paying a little extra to get a good quality brand. Personally, I like Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills (not an affiliate, just a fan), but I’m sure there are other good brands out there! I like these two as both companies have high quality standards for their products.
How to Store
Buckwheat does best store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for about 6 months. To extend its shelf life, you can keep it in the freezer for up to 1 year.
You can tell if buckwheat flour has gone bad if it has a rancid (a.k.a. sharp, sour) smell.
How to use in Cooking and Baking
In general, avoid substituting 100% of flour in a recipe with buckwheat flour as the end result will likely be chalky and undesirabley dense. If you’re using buckwheat flour just for a little more nutrition, play around with using 25-50% buckwheat flour and the rest all-purpose flour. Just remember, that since buckwheat flour doesn’t contain gluten, it can make your baked goods a little more delicate.
If you need the recipe to be gluten-free, then I’d recommend playing around with 25-50% buckwheat flour and the rest an all-purpose gluten free flour blend (King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill, and Krustez all have gluten-free all-purpose flours).
What recipes work best? So far I’ve had success using it in crepes and waffles (recipe coming on Friday!), but I’ve also heard that it does well in pancakes, quick breads, muffins, and crackers. Of course, there’s also the traditional recipes, including Russian blini, Indian flatbread, and Japanese soba noodles.
Check back on Friday for a recipe using this fiber-rich flour! I’d also love to hear any recipes you use buckwheat flour in. Let me know in the comments below or tag me on Instagram @TheHealthyToast_RD!