Pancakes, the limp dicks of the bread world… er… the carb darlings of the American breakfast. I’ll admit, I never liked ‘em. Pancakes always seemed like a sucker punch – refined flour and maple syrup taking turns until you were forced to go curl up in a corner and take a nap. Of course I always loved making them – they were the first food I learned to cook when I was about two. Mom would turn around the kitchen chair (so I didn’t tumble over onto the stove top) and let me (slowly now) ladle the batter onto the griddle. I’m sure there was a lot going through my kid brain at the time, but all I remember was making little dinosaurs and A, B, Cs.
Now whenever the mention of pancakes came up it’s usually a passing mention by a guest on a lazy Sunday morning. Of course Mom jumps at the thought and we all congregate around the griddle. While I generally leave the eating to others, I do love making pancakes on a griddle.
The oil sizzles and bounces before you wipe it down. Then you ladle on your batter and it always works out into an oval with tiny bubbles forming on its surface as the bottom begins to set. You flip it over, some of the batter splashing out into those thin crisps on the edge. A dome rises in the center and you know that little golden cake is done. While others are eating pancakes Mom and I pour the batter into the waffle press and wait until it’s a dark brown before slathering each waffle with butter. She’s generally all civilized and eats on a plate but I just stand by the griddle eating waffles with my hands and flipping pancakes.
Matt and I have been desperately trying to keep up with a sourdough starter that Karl gave to us. Karl, our host, has this one starter he’s been keeping in the fridge forever and he makes this one whole wheat sourdough bread with it. So we thought, if he’s such a dedicated fan of this bread, we must give it a try. Suffice to say, we didn’t give too much thought to bringing home a pet starter – a yeasty flour with a voracious appetite. So we’ve been baking a lot to keep the critter small. No, I’m not complaining. After trying out his whole wheat sourdough – which involved a lot more salt and water than we’ve ever attempted and came out incredibly chewy and tangy – we brainstormed other ideas. Then we spent a week making rock cakes and whole wheat breads and eating them for basically every meal.
Finally, someone mentioned pancakes, and I’m not saying it was me. We discussed, I groaned, and we finally agreed to try some sourdough pancakes. Now, you know I wouldn’t post this on ASM unless it was a happy ending. We decided to go for a heavy starter recipe that was light on the sugar – as in only 2 tablespoons for 2/3 cup starter and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat. After soaking the starter, flour and water overnight, we added the maple syrup, eggs, baking soda, salt, and some butter. The resulting pancakes – once flipped on the griddle – fluffed up like only a sourdough can into a spongy, tangy, delicious griddle cake that was actually begging to be smeared with maple syrup and butter. Of course the fire gave it a smokiness that can only happen in the outdoors. But yes, the pancake was craving sweets and I tagged along for the ride. It felt good and tasted even better.
If you have extras, spread on some peanut butter and honey and enjoy for lunch!
Sourdough pancakes Serves 2-3
2/3 cup starter
1 1/2 cups whole wheat
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup ghee or butter
Tip: Every sourdough is different. Some are very yeasty, some more water/mild. Mine is an incredibly strong sourdough and we needed a lot of water and very little flavoring in order to coax some good batter out of it. So pay attention to your starter and experiment!
Combine the starter, whole wheat and water in a bowl. Stir well, adjust the water/flour until you have an almost runny batter (when you let it fall off the spoon). At this point you want it to be a bit thick but otherwise the consistency of pancake batter. Cover and let sit overnight.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly.
Heat a griddle to 350F-375F. Add on some sunflower or sesame oil. Ladle on the batter. Once the bottom is just beginning to set, flip the pancake, about 2 minutes. Allow to cook a couple minutes more. Serve with butter and maple syrup or blackberry jam or applesauce. Enjoy their heartiness and relish the fact that you won’t pass out afterwards.