I believe I know in advance what most readers will think on encountering the word, “Buckwheat”: “Ewww - wheat!”, or,  “Pancakes!”

I’m here to tell you it’s not all that simple. A) Buckwheat is not a form of wheat, and, B) it’s great for so much more than pancakes.

First the facts. Buckwheat seeds are technically herbs, not grains - or at least not cereal grains. This isn’t an important distinction for the civilizations that have enjoyed buckwheat foods for thousands of years but it’s meaningful  when we start combining it with other products for taste and performance. Like grains, buckwheat can be ground into powders coarse and fine, used to make a huge range of baked goods, cooked without milling in porridges and accompaniments, and depended-upon for important nutrients. Buckwheat flour even has properties that remind us of other baking flours, since it absorbs water at a predictable rate and makes a sticky, cohesive dough which isn’t inclined to fall apart when baked, or to dry out easily.

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This generic sourdough starter recipe works with any grain flour, except oats. Use it to make an active, rich-tasting starter that can be incorporated into any sourdough bread recipe, gluten-free or glutenous.

Instructions include "Putting the starter to sleep", "Feeding" the starter, and "Waking up" the starter.

Yield: About 1 quart ready-to-use sourdough starter.

Time to make: 10 minutes per day for 10 days

Tools needed: 1 Qt or larger glass, plastic or stainless steel container with lid. Measuring spoons and cups. Stirring spoon. Zip-lock bag.

A perfect example of the way simple ingredients can yield complex, rewarding flavors, these cookie some together in a flash. They are very tender and oh-so rewarding, with floral and syrup notes. To achieve this, it's important to grind a buckwheat flour fresh from groats and combine with pre-ground flour. A blend of fine and coarse ground flours piques the mouthfeel and releases a lingering bouquet of tastes.

Yield: about 15, one-ounce cookies

Time to make: 20 minutes active. 20 minutes oven dwell.

Adapted from a generations-old family recipe, these pancakes check both the hearty and light boxes. They're ideal for individuals with multiple food allergies or vegans as they're dairy and egg free. Since buckwheat is not a "real" grain they're paleo too. However, the real reason to make a batch is because they're very good.

Yield: about 12, 4-inch pancakes; serves 4.

Time to make: 30 minutes active. Overnight batter ferment.

The 9 Grain flours make this crossover treat a tasty surprise. It's a yeast bread softened with a tangzhong and brightened with orange peel and buckwheat, with enough sweetness to pass as dessert and enough savory to crave for lunch.

A rich, almond custard filling makes the ideal complement for a puffy, buttery, buckwheat crust. 

Yield:    one 9-inch pie or tart, or two six-inch pies or tarts.

Time to make: 45 minutes active. 24 hour refrigerator dwell. 37 minute oven dwell.

Tools needed:  Large bowl. Medium bowl. Small bowl. Plastic wrap. Work surface. Pie pan or tart pan. Aluminum foil. Electric spice/coffee grinder. Measuring cups and spoons or scale. Sturdy metal spoon. Thin blade spatula.

This cake is a perfect example of a 9 Grains principle: choosing the right flour for the food. Buckwheat's assertive, vegetative flavor melds deliciously with ground walnut, brown sugar and fresh summer fruit. This moist and rich cake will put a smile on your face.

Note: Ingredients can be doubled for a 9 inch diameter cake.

Yield:  one, 6-inch circular cake, four servings.
Time to make: 40 minutes active. 45 minutes oven dwell

A perfect way to enjoy fresh summer fruit, these biscuits are made with complementary fats to be lusciously tender and packed with flavor. Macerated strawberries blend perfectly; raspberries, blueberries, and Boysenberries are great choices as well. And don't forget stone fruits! As a bonus these biscuits come together in a flash, requiring minimum technique.

Yield: About a dozen, 1 1/2 ounce (45 gram) biscuits

Time to make: 15 minutes active, 22 minutes oven dwell