Friday, October 8, 2010

Sourdough Pancake Experiment

Because I was so excited with the success of my pretzels the other day, and because I'm certain that my sourdough starter is starting to have the good behavior of a properly maturing adolescent starter, I had to try making another quickbread. Though lately I was passionately in love with the waffle, pancakes are really where it's at for this Midwestern lass. So, branching gingerly out, I chose a sourdough pancake with a long rise - indeed you can leave it up to 24 hours if you wish - and couldn't be more pleased with the result!

I received an encouraging email back from the bakers at King Arthur Flour yesterday. I contacted them wondering if they had any tips for the sourdough starter I've been working on. I am a devoted KAF flour user, and even though I don't typically splurge on their organic flours, I use their AP flour, bread flour and whole wheat flours exclusively. I get my specialty flours from the Outpost bulk bins, since I can get them in small amounts and they are always fresh.

According to a recent catalogue article I read, King Arthur does purchase wheat solely from US farmers who also have good sustainability practices in place. Aside from being the oldest flour company (1790!), they also have demanding standards which ensure that even from crop to crop and year to year, their flours are consistent in composition. I love that they are an enormous company, yet answer every individual question - and have painstaking amazing recipes. I was so happy to hear from Frank, who assured me that sourdoughs are unique to their environments, and that mine probably just needs a bit of rye flour here and there to thrive and do his best.

For about a week now, I've been feeding my starter with one feeding of rye every 4 or 5 feedings (I feed twice a day), depending on if it starts looking sluggish or not. I can't believe how it grows between feedings now, and is deflated when I stir it. I also can't believe how light it makes baked goods.

These pancakes are entirely whole grain, yet they were extremely light. I usually eat 2 (4 inch) pancakes when I make them using AP flour, but ate 4 of these without even blinking. The Boy-O had me beat, he ate 5 for breakfast this morning, and I actually had to tell him that he couldn't eat any more. I also think they were so delicious since I fried them in a cast iron skillet brushed with ghee. I made ghee yesterday for the first time, and am hooked. It's slightly nutty flavor was so great, especially baked onto the outside of a healthy pancake!

I finally found that straining the ghee after 10 minutes of rest through a coffee filter was the best way to strain it...

I found the original recipe for sourdough pancakes at The Nourishing Gourmet. Kimi Harris has a great site, full of great recipes for whole foods, and quite a lot of information on healthy eating. I cut her recipe in half, and even at that, had 8 leftover pancakes. I'm sure they will toast up well tomorrow. I also think these would be excellent as little blini pancakes, topped with caviar or smoked salmon and creme fraiche even cream cheese topped with slices of cucumber, radish and dill. They are pretty amazing just plain with maple syrup, too.

Mix up the starter portion at least 3-4 hours before you want to eat pancakes, or really anywhere between 3-24 hours. I started mine last night before bed, and it was ready to go by 7 this morning, even in a pretty chilly kitchen, since I forgot to close the window last night...

Sourdough Pancakes (adapted from Kimi Harris, The Nourishing Gourmet)
makes 18-20 4 inch pancakes

For the starter:
  • 1/2 c. starter
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 3/4 c. multi grain flour (I used 1/2 c. whole wheat, 1/2 c. barley, 3/8 c. (6T.) cornmeal, and 3/8 c. rye flour)
To make the pancakes:
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
3-24 hours before you want pancakes, mix the ingredients for the starter in a large bowl. Make sure it's big enough to accommodate some rising action. When pancake making time comes, add the rest of the ingredients, and stir until just mixed. You can adjust the consistency of the batter if you like by adding a bit of water or milk.

Fry in a hot pan, preferably cast iron, as you do with pancakes. Try not to eat them all at once.

Armed with new confidence in my starter, I think I'm going to keep feeding it as I have been for the past week: watching for sluggishness and fortifying with rye for about a month before starting to work on another bread. I think my starter needs to acclimate to me and my kitchen, and gain his own confidence in his rising capabilities. And I hate to say it, but I think that my next loaf of bread may come from a King Arthur Flour recipe and not one from Nancy Silverton. I hope she'll forgive me.


  1. I really like this idea! so yummy!

    have a nice time!

  2. I made these this morning for breakfast - delicious! Actually, it was this recipe that prompted to take my much-neglected starter out of the fridge and bring it back to life. (I have a loaf of sourdough beer bread doing its second proof on the counter - can't wait to see how it comes out!)

    For the pancakes, I used flours that I had in the house: whole spelt, cornmeal, buckwheat, and I ran some rolled oats through the coffee grinder for makeshift oat flour. I had to add an extra 1/4 cup of spelt flour as the batter was a bit thin. They were a super tasty and nutritious way to use up the excess starter that I always have. Thanks for a great recipe!

  3. Thanks so much, Alanna! I still like this recipe, but when I have a lot of starter to use up, I love this one. It uses 2 c. of starter, no additional flour... The magic that happens when you add the baking soda is pure genius, and makes them super light and fluffy.


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