I have a T-shirt that says “J’aime ça des ployes!” in big yellow letters across the front. You can’t miss it. But most Canadians, even French Canadians in Québec, have no idea what a ploye is. “Qu’est-ce qu’un ploye ?” as it were.
The ploye is a traditional pancake or crêpe known in the northwestern panhandle area of New Brunswick, around where the Madawaska River joins the upper Saint John at Edmundston. It’s simple to make and very delicious when consumed with homemade butter and molasses, sugar or maple syrup. It’s often eaten with baked beans and cretons (don’t even ask!)
The recipe varies slightly depending on family preferences but the batter is always thin and runny and the ploye is not flipped during cooking. Also, it’s very important to use the Madawaska-style buckwheat flour. Regular buckwheat flour is grey in colour and contains remnants of the husk. It renders a darker, heavier pancake like the “galette de sarrasin” (buckwheat pancake) found in Québec. Madawaska buckwheat flour is soft and white and gives the ployes a yellow colour and a different taste.
1 cup (250 ml) of regular white flour
2 cups (500 ml) of buckwheat flour from Madawaska
2 cups of cold water
1 tsp. (5 ml) of fine salt
Mix it all and add 2 cups of boiling water, and 2 tsp. of baking powder. Cook on a hot griddle, one side only, do not flip the ployes. A true ¨ploye¨ should not be turned during cooking.
Ployes and ‘cretons’ (pork pate) is a traditional meal of the hungry New Brunswick working man returning from the field or forest. In large rural families it was the hour of the PLOYE! This buckwheat flour pancake has rather an odd name, coming from the fact that ployes would “plug” a stomach quickly (lovely!). Old-timers would use a starting yeast preserved from one meal to the next. Ployes were made on a wood stove and were used as a substitute for bread.
Drop us a comment if you try this recipe.