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Recipe Collection

Buckwheat Drop Scones

Joe Woodhouse — Summer Kitchens — 2020

I have come across a myriad of old Ukrainian recipes that use a natural sourdough leaven called opara to make pancakes, and buckwheat flour also featured in many of them. Zinoviya Klynovetska, one of Ukraine’s pioneering food writers, has a recipe for what she calls lyapuny, or buckwheat flour pancakes, in her seminal 1913 Dishes and Drinks of Ukraine. These drop scones were partly inspired by that recipe and partly by British pikelets, cousins of the crumpet. If you want to make them the traditional way, you’ll have to mix the batter the day before, as the sourdough needs to ferment overnight.


Prep time: 1 hour or overnight
Cook time: 10 minutes

Photography: Joe Woodhouse
Food Styling: Olia Hercules

Season: Year-Round


100g rye starter 
4g fast-action dried yeast
100g buckwheat flour
100g strong white bread flour
150ml whole milk
150ml lukewarm water

1⁄2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp honey
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
2–3 tbsp vegetable oil
Butter and maple syrup or honey, to serve


  1. If you’re using rye starter, put it in a bowl and stir in the buckwheat and bread flours, milk and water to make a thick batter – it should fall off the spoon freely. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight. 

  2. If you’re using dried yeast, make the batter an hour or so before you need it. In a bowl, mix the yeast with the buckwheat and bread flours, then gradually add the milk and water, stirring to make a thick batter – it should fall off the spoon freely. Cover with cling film and leave to stand for 15 minutes–1 hour. 

  3. When it’s ready, the batter should look lively and bubbly. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda, honey and salt and mix well.

  4. Heat 1–2 tablespoons of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add 2 tablespoonfuls of the batter to make a drop scone. Depending on the size of your pan, you might be able to cook a couple at a time, but if you’ve used rye starter, cook a tester one first – if it is too fluid and difficult to flip, stir in a touch more flour before cooking the rest. 

  5. Fry on the first side until the top looks set and has holes forming, like a crumpet, and the underside is golden and crispy. Use a spatula to flip it, then cook for another 15–20 seconds. Remove from the pan and keep warm while you cook the rest, adding a little more oil to the pan as needed.

  6. To serve, slather the side with the holes with butter and maple syrup or honey. 

Read more: Summer Kitchens

Olia’s Summer Kitchens explores the culinary identity of beautiful eastern Europe and her native Ukraine. With beautiful photography, it’s a book filled with stories and memories of tiny buildings called summer kitchens, and an entry into a cuisine and a culture that’s more important now than ever. Extract taken from Olia Hercules’ Summer Kitchen (Bloomsbury Publishing UK, £26 Hardback). Photography © Elena Heatherwick and Joe Woodhouse.

— about the author

Olia Hercules was born in the south of Ukraine in 1984, and spent most of her childhood in Cyprus. After moving to the UK and working as a chef in restaurants such as Ottolenghi, she published Mamushka, a cookbook that celebrates her family recipes, from Ukraine and Moldova to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. She has since published two more cookbooks, championing the culinary traditions of her homeland and surrounding, lesser known cultures.


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