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Buckwheat flour in baking & cooking

Buckwheat flour in baking & cooking

Pizzocheri is buckwheat pasta with potatoes, melted cheese and greens.

Ysanne Spevack | Los Angeles Times

Buckwheat may seem like an old familiar in savory Breton crepes or in earthy, nutty Japanese soba noodles, but it’s also a uniquely versatile ingredient that can be baked into biscuits, rolled into Italian pasta and embraced in other ways that might surprise even, say, a veteran cookie baker. Cookies become crumblier, pancakes have a richer crumb, pasta remains firmer, and they all benefit from buckwheat’s nuttiness, its texture and substance.

Buckwheat’s subtle flavors also mingle well with such seasonals as avocados, black kale and goat’s cheese.

One of the oldest crops in the world, buckwheat grows in climates ranging from the highest fields of the Tibetan plateau to the lowest reaches of Australia and has been integrated into cuisines around the world for the last 8,000 years.

Traditional Russian blini are made with buckwheat flour; they’re similar to crepes but are made with a yeasted batter. Buckwheat has a distinct flavor that holds up to the addition of caviar, crème fraîche and minced raw onion.

And there are variations on this theme. Ingredients with a velvety mouth-feel can mimic the richness of crème fraîche. Mash avocados, whip Greek yogurt, blend goat’s cheese or fresh creamy ricotta. Caviar provides a tangy saltiness, but replace it with a tart-sweet ingredient and blini become a light delicious dessert. Try fresh local figs, grapes, dates or pomegranate.