So here we are.
Recently I came across a recipe that seemed simple enough: starter, flour, milk, egg, pinch of salt. And a warm place to let it sit over night. This is all assuming one has a healthy starter ready to use. If not, here is my from-scratch starter recipe that I use for baking bread, which can also be used to start a pancake starter, the only difference being the milk. The idea is to transfer your bubble-making wild yeast colony to a new milky environment by adding a spoonful of bubbly bread starter to a 50/50 milk and flour mixture ( a 1/4 cup of each) to adjust it to pancakes instead of bread. Once this milk starter is bubbling, keep it in the fridge until the night before you want to make pancakes. You now have a separate pancake starter to use anytime.
Ok, so it's Friday evening and you want to have a Saturday morning pancake breakfast. Take your starter out of the fridge and let it come to room temp for maybe an hour or so. Once the chill is off the starter, mix together 1 cup of milk (I use goat milk, but regular milk works too, I just haven't yet tried almond milk etc) and a 1 1/2 cups flour of any mixture you like (I use 1 cup spelt and 1/2 cup teff) in a medium bowl (I use a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup) and add 1/4 cup starter (this amount doesn't have to be exact as long as you leave some in the bottom of the jar) mixing all together until you form a smooth batter. Cover this with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight. Add 50/50 milk and flour back into your starter jar to replace that which you just used. What's left in the bottom of the jar will feed your new starter for use next time. Let this sit overnight also and then put the jart into the fridge in the morning.
The next morning your batter should look like this:
See the spongy bubbly texture? Just wait 'til you stir in the egg and see how foamy the batter is under the surface. But first, before anything else, make coffee.
Ok so once you've got your hot morning beverage of choice, go ahead and stir the egg into your batter and add a pinch of salt (more or less to taste). You can also add any other flavours now if you want like sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. I like to keep them as plain and simple as possible because I like to dress the finished pancake with fruit, yogurt and maple syrup on my plate. See below. Hubs likes savoury toppings on his, so it's win/win.
Frying: Once you've incorporated the egg and salt into the batter you're ready to fry them up. I like to use a cast iron frying pan that's been well seasoned with olive oil, but any other frying pan will do.
See how the bubbles pop through the surface? That's the natural leaven from the starter. I didn't add anything extra like baking soda, so the texture of my finished pancake is something between a crepe and an old school pancake. If you want more a more spongy rise, go ahead and add some baking soda, otherwise I think they are best without. I keep a casserole dish with a lid nearby to keep the finished pancakes warm.
With this batch, I'm also making blinis, those little Russian pancakes traditionally topped with sour cream and smoked fish or caviar. I'll be getting more creative with these, perhaps using shredded turkey and hot sauce or cheese and pickles and having them as appetizers with a glass of wine later today.
But first, breakfast . . .
These sourdough pancakes taste decidedly tangy on their own and hold up nicely with any combination of toppings from butter and maple syrup to fruit and yogurt to ham and cheese to fish and coleslaw (think fish tacos!) It's a versatile meal revelation.