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Recipe: Vivian Howard’s Sunday Morning Pancakes

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Fluffy, buttermilk buckwheat cakes

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pancakes Shutterstock

Nothing is quite as quintessentially Sunday morning as a big, fluffy stack of pancakes, preferably with a creamy cup of coffee and real maple syrup. It’s the hot breakfast carbo load. Here, North Carolina-based chef and star of PBS’s winningly relatable reality series A Chef’s Life, Vivian Howard shares a Sunday morning recipe from her first cookbook Deep Run Roots, out now.

Developed by Howard’s husband Ben Knight, the pancakes call for a mixture of all purpose and buckwheat flour, which will give them a darker look and more rustic, complex flavor. Howard suggests pairing them with her recipe for preserves and spiced pecan and pumpkin seed crumble, but the meal will taste just as good with any toppings or preserves you prefer. Make it your own, just don’t skimp on the butter.

Pancake Sunday

Makes 6 large pancakes

BEN MAKES PANCAKES for Flo and Theo every Sunday morning. As of right now, Pancake Sundays are our little family’s only food tradition. To immortalize it, I told Ben over a year ago I wanted to put his recipe in my book and pair it with fig preserves and pecans. From that Sunday on, Ben cooked, flipped, and tested his pancakes with perfection in mind. I finally had to threaten him with my missing my deadline to get him to settle on the details. Thank God this whole book wasn’t a husband-and-wife collaboration. It would never have been published.

To be fair, Ben’s endless testing turned out some spectacular pancakes with crispy edges. Ben says the trick is to use lots of butter in the pan and essentially fry the pancake.

On theirs, Theo and Flo prefer regular maple syrup and lots of it, but I think my Whole-Fruit Fig and Lemon Preserves (page 178) and the Spiced Pecan and Pumpkin Seed Crumble (page 135) give them the fancy touches they deserve.

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons butter, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1½ cups buttermilk
1 cup Whole-Fruit Fig and Lemon Preserves with their syrup (page 178)
1 cup Spiced Pecan and Pumpkin Seed Crumble (page 135)

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and, in a separate bowl, whisk it into the egg and buttermilk. Add the wet to the dry and mix to barely combine. The batter will have a few lumps and bubbles.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan till it’s foamy. Add 1/3 cup of the pancake batter to the pan. It should spread to 5 or 6 inches in diameter. Cook on the first side about 90 seconds or until the edges start to brown and little bubbles force their way up through the center of the pancake. Flip and add a teaspoon or so of butter to give that side some love too. Cook for an additional minute. Follow up with the remaining batter, making sure you add a tablespoon of butter with each new pancake.

Ben cooks and serves these one at a time in the spirit of his uncle Bob, who did the same. All of us just wait our turn. He never holds them in a warm oven till they’re all done, but you could certainly do that.

Serve with Whole-Fruit Fig and Lemon Preserves and the Spiced Pecan and Pumpkin Seed Crumble.

Deep Run Roots cover Rex Miller

Excerpted from Deep Run Roots, Copyright © 2016 by Vivian Howard. Used with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York. All rights reserved.

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