|The Taste of Memory--About Food and Wine|
Usually when I go to a new restaurant for breakfast I'll ask if they make their pancakes with a sourdough starter. If they do, I'll try them. The difference between pancakes made with a starter and pancakes made sans starter is remarkable. The sourdough variety are invariably light, tangy and melt in your mouth. The others are doughy and have the unpleasant tendency to stick to your palate unless liberally doused with syrup. Once you've tried pancakes made with a sourdough starter you can easily recognize the other variety - and with recognition doesn't come delight. My recommendation is to always ask.
I've made sourdough pancakes for a number of years. Sometimes when the weather turns cold I'll get the urge to make up a batch. Since they freeze well, I usually make extras so I can have them anytime. However, they are best when made fresh and quickly eaten. Eating them quickly is the easy part. Making them takes just a little more effort.
The following is the basic recipe I use. Its origin is obscure but it's my recipe of choice and I've used it as long as I can remember. It's similar to the recipe for "Grandma Boyd's Sourdough Pancakes" (Wilford, Charles, (1971) Adventures in Sourdough Cooking & Baking. Cal-Gar Press. p.40) - however with the flour omitted and with different proportions. While most sourdough recipes don't call for addition of baking soda, the soda insures a fast and consistent rise. (To be really authentic you can try the recipe leaving out the soda and salt and allowing the batter to rest for about an hour in a warm place before making your pancakes.)
I call these pancakes "Silver Dollar" because it is important to make them about the size of a silver dollar (1-1/2" - 2" in diameter). I've tried to make large-size pancakes with the recipe and they just don't come out as fluffy. You'll need a starter to get the recipe going. See our section on starters. If you don't have a friend that has one to give you, you can order a starter from us.
My starter is over 15 years old and theoretically still has the same mixture of wild yeast and lactobacillus that it contained when I originally received it. Aside from taste, all pancakes made with the recipe will be thin, fluffy and firm in texture. You can spruce up the presentation by serving with blueberries or other fruit of your liking.
You make a basic batter the night before you want pancakes for breakfast. Put one cup of sourdough starter in a large mixing bowl preferably of glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Add 2 cups of warm water (up to 85 °F) and 2-1/2 cups of flour. (You can experiment with different types of flour for different tastes, but I like to keep it simple).
Mix thoroughly. Initially, the mixture will be thick and lumpy but will thin down from fermenting and should be lively by the morning. I cover the bowl with a dinner plate, wrap it loosely with a towel, and place it in a warm spot overnight. If your kitchen tends to be on the cool side, I'd place the bowl on your oven door. You should avoid placing the bowl in a drafty location. You should also avoid placing the bowl in a location where the temperature gets over 85 °F as this might kill the wild yeast. I recommend the use of an accurate thermometer if you are unsure.
In the morning remove one cup of the batter and put it back into your sourdough starter crock and refrigerate. (Starter is truly a renewable resource.)(:>) You will be left with 4-1/2 cups of batter.
To the batter remaining in the bowl, add:
2 Tbs cooking oil
1/4 cup instant dry milk
Beat thoroughly. Then combine:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbs sugar
Blend together until smooth, eliminating any lumps of soda. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter; fold in gently. This will cause a gentle foaming and rising action.
Allow batter to rest several minutes, then fry on a hot, lightly greased griddle. I generally use a tablespoon to ladle the batter onto the griddle. Keep the size of the pancakes to about 1-1/2" - 2". Butter and Syrup and Enjoy!!
Yield: 25-30 silver-dollar sized pancakes.
©1997 Gary Fisher
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