Buckwheat Pancakes with Caramelized Apples and Crème Fraîche

Buckwheat Pancakes with Caramelized Apples and Crème Fraîche
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About This Recipe

Living in the heart of Napa Valley, I'm constantly inspired by the incredible produce, local flavors, and exquisite wines that surround me. It's no wonder that one day, while experimenting with a traditional pancake recipe, I thought about incorporating some of these local elements into my creation. That's when I came up with these Buckwheat Pancakes with Caramelized Apples and Crème Fraîche, a dish that celebrates the diverse flavors and ingredients found in California wine country.

I started by swapping out regular flour for buckwheat flour, which adds a rustic, earthy flavor to the pancakes. This change not only makes the pancakes more wholesome but also pays homage to the rich agricultural history of Napa Valley. For the topping, I went with caramelized apples, a nod to the region's abundant apple orchards. The addition of locally made crème fraîche provides a tangy and creamy contrast to the dish.

For a complete Napa Valley-inspired brunch, you can serve these pancakes alongside some thick-cut bacon and a fresh fruit salad, featuring seasonal fruits like strawberries, cherries, and peaches. If you're in the mood for something sweet to finish off your meal, I'd recommend a slice of Meyer lemon tart, another local favorite.

Sourcing ingredients is an essential part of making a dish that truly represents the region. For the buckwheat flour, you can find it at local farmers' markets or specialty stores like Oakville Grocery. The apples can be picked up from one of Napa Valley's many fruit stands, while the crème fraîche can be found at Cowgirl Creamery or a similar artisan dairy producer.

When it comes to wine pairings for this dish, I'd recommend a slightly sweet and refreshing white wine, like a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer. Two excellent options would be the Riesling from Trefethen Family Vineyards, a historic winery located in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, or the Gewürztraminer from Gundlach Bundschu, a family-owned winery in nearby Sonoma County. Both wines offer a balance of fruitiness and acidity that complements the flavors of the pancakes and caramelized apples.

These Buckwheat Pancakes with Caramelized Apples and Crème Fraîche are a true celebration of the Napa Valley and its culinary heritage. Whether you're a local or just visiting the area, you'll love the way this dish brings together the flavors of the region. As you enjoy your brunch, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the landscape and the bounty of local produce that makes these pancakes so special.

To further explore the flavors of Napa Valley, consider visiting some of the region's wineries. While there are countless options to choose from, I'd recommend checking out Stag's Leap Wine Cellars for their world-renowned Cabernet Sauvignon, Frog's Leap Winery for their commitment to organic and sustainable farming, and Domaine Chandon for their delightful sparkling wines. Each winery offers a unique perspective on the area's rich wine-making history and provides a perfect backdrop for a day of wine tasting and culinary exploration.

Happy cooking, and cheers to your Napa Valley-inspired culinary adventures!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat flour is a versatile and nutritious powerhouse that adds depth and a unique earthy flavor to various dishes, especially pancakes. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is naturally gluten-free. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it is a great alternative for those looking for health benefits and distinct flavor. Its rustic notes elevate the pancakes and provide a wholesome profile, making it a fitting choice for the Napa Valley-inspired dish.

How to Perfectly Caramelize Apples

Caramelizing apples might sound like a daunting task, but with the right technique, you can achieve that perfect sweet and tender result every time.

  1. Choose the Right Apples: Opt for firmer varieties like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp. They hold their shape well and won't turn mushy when cooked.
  2. Even Slices: Ensure all apple slices are of uniform thickness for even cooking.
  3. Monitor the Heat: Maintain a steady medium heat. Too high can cause the sugars to burn quickly, while too low may result in the apples releasing too much moisture.
  4. Stir Occasionally: Keep the apples moving in the pan to ensure they are evenly coated with the sugar and spices and to prevent sticking.
  5. Be Patient: Perfect caramelization takes time. Wait until the apples are golden brown and the sauce has thickened.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I substitute another flour for buckwheat flour? Yes, you can replace buckwheat flour with other gluten-free flours like almond or oat flour. However, this might change the flavor profile slightly.
  2. How long can I store leftover pancakes and caramelized apples? Store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Pancakes can last up to 2 days, while caramelized apples can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  3. Are these pancakes gluten-free? While buckwheat flour is gluten-free, the recipe also contains all-purpose flour. For a completely gluten-free option, replace all-purpose flour with a gluten-free alternative.
  4. What other toppings can I use if I don't have crème fraîche? Greek yogurt, sour cream, or whipped cream are great alternatives to crème fraîche.
  5. Do I need a special skillet for these pancakes? While a non-stick skillet or griddle is recommended for easy flipping, any flat cooking surface will work. Just ensure it heats evenly.

Tips for Success

  1. Let the Batter Rest: Allowing the pancake batter to sit for about 10 minutes will help the ingredients meld together, resulting in fluffier pancakes.
  2. Control Your Heat: Keep your skillet at a consistent medium heat. This ensures the pancakes cook evenly without burning.
  3. Fresh Ingredients: Given the Napa Valley inspiration, always opt for the freshest ingredients. It truly makes a difference in flavor and presentation.

Recipe Overview

Buckwheat Pancakes with Caramelized Apples and Crème Fraîche
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


For the pancakes:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the caramelized apples:

  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

To serve:

  • Crème fraîche
  • Maple syrup (optional)

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles form on the surface and the edges are slightly set, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.
  4. To make the caramelized apples, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and caramelized, about 10-12 minutes.
  5. Serve pancakes topped with caramelized apples, a dollop of crème fraîche, and a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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