Ployes are buckwheat pancakes made by Acadians in the Upper St. John Valley in Maine and in the Madawaska of New Brunswick.
The pancakes are very thin, and 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) wide.
They can be served like bread, or served like pancakes with maple syrup, or butter and molasses. When served as bread, you spread butter on them and roll them up. They are often served with cretons, particularly at breakfast.
For Maine and Madawaska style Ployes, yellow buckwheat flour is used, finely ground from Silverskin buckwheat to make the light-coloured ones. Silverskin buckwheat has 4 sided seeds and needs only 10 to 12 weeks to harvest.
The basic recipe is buckwheat flour, wheat flour, baking powder, salt and water. The two flours are used in a ratio of 1 wheat flour to 2 buckwheat flour, though some recipes invert the ratio. No milk or egg is added, though some people sneak a dash of vinegar into the mix.
You mix the dry ingredients, add cold water, mix, then add hot water, and stir. The batter should be light and smooth. Some advise mixing it, then letting it sit for half an hour before using.
You cook the Ployes on a heated, ungreased surface (skillets for them are called “poëlonne.”) Put about 3 tablespoons of the batter in the skillet then tilt the skillet around to spread it out. As the batter cooks, the top will dry out and become yellow, and small holes called “eyes” appear in it. When the top is dry, the Ploy is done. You don’t flip it and cook the other side. Remove it from the pan, and cover to keep warm.
Each Ploye takes about 90 seconds to cook. You stir the batter before starting each new Ploye.
You can buy Ploye mixes. The first one available was the Bouchard Family Farm Ployes Mix in 1983.
A Québecois style Ploye is also made from grey buckwheat flour that is more coarsely ground. In Quebec and New Brunswick, some call them Ployes, some call them “plogues”, some call them “Galette de sarrasin”; and they may be flipped while cooking.
The word “ploye” may come from the verb “plier”, meaning “to fold.”
In the Upper St. John Valley, buckwheat is called “bockouite.”
“Cunning Ploye.” New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. 2 August 1996.
Jenkins, Nancy Harmon. Acadian Farmers Rediscover a Staple. New York Times. 12 October 1988.
Ployes with Cretons. Saveur Magazine, November 2006, Issue #97.