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Recipe: Olia Hercules’ Buckwheat Drop Scones

Try your hand at some Ukrainian-inspired baking this weekend

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The recipe for Olia Hercules’ Ukrainian twist on the classic afternoon tea treat: buckwheat drop scones, extracted from her new cookbook, Summer Kitchens.

Recipe: Buckwheat Drop Scones by Olia Hercules

Buckwheat Drop Scones

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.


Serves 4-5, makes 8-10 drop scones

  • 100g rye starter or 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.

Extract taken from Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules (£26, Bloomsbury). Recipe photography © Joe Woodhouse.


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