Berlin has been a big adjustment in many ways, and one of the biggest had been how we shop for food. I realise I was spoilt with my weekly delivery of fresh, local, seasonal fruit, veg, fish and meat from the wonderful Farm Direct but going back to supermarkets and local markets has been a shock, and that’s without considering the language barrier.
We are lucky that where we live there are few decent supermarkets within an easy walk with Leo in the carrier and Granny trolley in tow, and weekly midweek and Saturday markets too. But I’ve got to be honest and say I find it a pain that I can’t get everything in one shop; the supermarkets aren’t as comprehensive as Sainsburys et al and of mixed quality (although the dearth of ready meal aisles is a refreshing change), and the markets aren’t as seasonally driven as a UK farmers market, and don’t do much in the way of organic/higher welfare meat.
But there are upsides too. The Kollwitzplatz Saturday market has great apples and juice, eggs, organic vegetables and some really good lunch stalls. And I’ve recently stopped by on a Thursday to find some very different stalls including a free range chicken farmer, so I need to make an effort to get there soon and try some. I like the proliferation of BioMarkts, now that I’ve got my head round what they do and don’t sell, and get most of my dairy products at the Denns on my street. Although almost nowhere sells milk in any container bigger than a litre!
Which brings me to buttermilk. I really struggled to buy good buttermilk in the UK (Ivy House stuff via Farm Direct was ace but came in in a litre bottle, which I never used up) but it is everywhere here: pure and simple or flavoured, in big yogurt cartons or in a bottle to drink. The Germans do love their buttermilch! And with such a lot of the stuff to go around I’ve perfected my pancake recipe and they are a staple in the FT wohnung now. (Oh yeah. We are all FTs now. Another thing that happened last year!).
Leo started eating solids at Christmas but he’s been taking food at his own pace and only really got into food at about 11 months. It’s been difficult not to fall into the trap of trying to trick him into eating, or get stressed when he isn’t interested in doing so, both as a mum and a big fan of good food and eating! But last time I made these he got properly stuck in which pleased me greatly. The recipe feeds us and him; I usually make a few little ones for him and about 6 bigger ones for us. Leftovers also freeze beautifully.
Buttermilk berry pancakes
140g wholemeal flour
60g plain/550 flour
4g bicarbonate of soda
3g baking powder
Tiny drop of vanilla extract
10g butter melted
Berries to taste (fresh or frozen)
Making the batter
This couldn’t be simpler. Weigh out the dry ingredients and whisk to distribute the raising agents. Then add the wet ingredients (but not the berries) and give the while thing a good whisking.
Leave to rest for a few minutes while you heat up the pan.
Cooking the pancakes
I use a 20cm non-stick pan to cook these, and have the oven on low (like, 50°c) and pile them up on a plate in there while I cook the next one.
Get the pan reasonably hot, don’t bother adding extra butter if it’s a non-stick pan but add a little if your pan is not.
Add a dollop of batter to the pan using a small ladle or big spoon, as big or small as you want. I make little ones for L, big ones for us.
Sprinkle some berries into the batter and poke them down a bit into the pancake (this way they won’t burn too much when you flip it).
Cook until the bubbles that rise up are popping themselves and flip it over. Cook for a few minutes on that side, then transfer to oven / hungry toddler/ your plate and continue until all the batter has been used.
An Autumnal variation
Add a grated apple and half a teaspoon of cinnamon in place of the berries. Delicious.