This recipe for sourdough pancakes from starter is a delicious homemeade recipe that you can find in the Deep Flavors: A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style cookbook by Ken Horwitz. It is available for Kindle and hardcover options as well.
Sourdough Pancakes from Starter
This recipe makes enough for 3-4 hungry people when served with eggs. You can easily halve the recipe.
- 2 cups Sourdough Starter (see recipe below)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus what is needed to butter the skillet)
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt (if using other brands or textures, adjust appropriately because other textures of salt will measure differently, and too much salt will ruin a recipe)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- fruit, berries, or nuts (optional)
Sourdough starter is a living organism and needs to be respected and cared for as such. The starter needs to be fed every week or two. It can be stored in the refrigerator. I do not freeze the starter, but you certainly can. I maintain the starter in a CorningWare container with a fitted glass top that is not airtight, but an airtight lid in the refrigerator is fine. The starter does not require oxygen.
There are books that describe the somewhat complicated process of creating a sourdough starter from scratch. Why would you go to that effort? A good source for a starter is from a friend who has a starter; absent that, King Arthur Flour has a reasonably priced fresh starter. King Arthur Flour’s starter produces an excellent base for sourdough cooking. Just follow the easy instructions, and you will have it for years. It is truly not necessary to go through the mystical process as some writers describe of trying to grow your starter from scratch. King Arthur Flour also has a dry yeast sourdough starter, but they do not recommend that product for long-term maintenance. I have found that the persons who answer the telephone at King Arthur Flour are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable about their products, and helpful.
When the starter is at room temperature, maintain the starter in a relatively loose slurry texture—like a medium béchamel, or slightly stiffer than heavy cream. The starter will exude excess gray liquid and will be stiff when cold. To feed the starter, take it out of the refrigerator. The gray, watery liquid floating on top of the starter should be drained before feeding.
After the gray liquid is drained, add water that is filtered to remove volatile materials such as hydrocarbons, chlorine, etc. If you do not have filtered water, use distilled water and not regular bottled water. (Given the high ratio of cancer in certain US cities, one should assume that their water is particularly noxious and not fit for human consumption.) I do not consume unfiltered water, and I assume (but have no proof) that the yeast would be particularly sensitive to the chemicals in unfiltered water. Distilled water is available at any supermarket in gallon jugs.
Add enough water—approximately equal to the water that drained off plus some additional water so that after flour is added, you will have a mixture that is the texture of béchamel. Carefully stir the mixture to combine the cold starter with the added water. Since it is cold, it will be somewhat stiff. If you do not use it regularly, you may have too much starter; simply discard all but about a cup and start refreshing from that point.
There are two procedures to refresh the yeast.
(1) Stir in about ¼ cup of flour, and let the starter sit, covered with a non-airtight lid, at warm room temperature. An electric oven with only the light on or a gas oven warmed only by the pilot light are even friendlier places for the yeast. The light provides gentle warmth to activate the yeast. Over a period of several hours, repeat, adding the flour 2 to 4 times until the liquid is very bubbly and with the texture of a thin to medium béchamel. After the mixture is fully warmed, you can (but do not have to) move the container from the oven to the kitchen counter if you have a warm kitchen. Fully warmed means about 90°F as tested by your trusty Thermapen. You should not let it get much warmer than that.
(2) The second procedure is simply to add at least 1 cup of flour, and mix until very smooth. Let it rest on the counter overnight. It should be bubbly in the morning. If not, add some more flour, stir, and let rest until bubbly.
The starter is now ready for use to make bread, pancakes, etc. Immediately before putting the now vibrant starter back into the refrigerator, add and stir in slightly more flour.
- Mix sourdough starter, maple syrup, melted butter, eggs, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and whisk to combine. The resulting batter should be thicker than heavy cream.
- At this point, if you want banana sourdough pancakes, mash up a very ripe banana, and stir it in. If you want blueberry, raspberry, or strawberry pancakes, carefully drop the fruit directly on each pancake with a sprinkling of sugar to sweeten the fruit immediately before flipping the pancake. (Strawberries need to be diced small before adding to the cooking pancakes.) These berry pancakes can be messy to cook because of the sugars that caramelize onto the pan, but they are delicious. An alternative is to cook the berries in the maple syrup, as described in the following recipe, to serve over the pancakes—easy and delicious. Another easy, delicious variant is pecan pancakes. Finely chop 1 cup of toasted pecans and stir them into the batter. Cook as normal.
- Pancakes should be cooked on a buttered cast-iron skillet or griddle because once you get the pan to a proper temperature, it is relatively easy to maintain that temperature, although a nonstick pan also works. Drop ¼ cup of the pancake mix for each pancake (a 10-inch round griddle will fit 3 pancakes), or just make flapjacks that cover the pan. Pancakes are ready to turn when the top is all bubbly. After turning, they will be cooked in a few seconds.
- Serve with microwave-warmed maple syrup, apple or cherry compote, or berry-flavored maple syrup.