I’ll be honest, here: I am not a pancake person. If we’re going to talk weekend breakfasts, I am way more into the savory than the sweet – and on the rare occasion I do want a griddled morning treat, it’s a crispy, golden waffle. The other human member of the household, though, is a serious pancake person. He could probably eat them every day. Actually, that’s not true; he loves oatmeal, eggs, cereal… all things breakfast about which I don’t really care. In the morning, I tend to want leftovers or not much at all.
So I have decided that, since I’m the weird one in this relationship, I will learn to appreciate pancakes – and that means learning to make pancakes I can regularly get on board with – and that means something other than white flour and sugar.
Enter the new love of my life, the sourdough starter.
Sourdough is good for you, people. I am a believer in regular consumption of fermented foods, as that is one of the ways people historically kept their good health. Sourdough is the old-school method of leavening baked goods, and adds all kinds of lovely probiotic benefits to bread, biscuits, crackers, and yes, pancakes. I have been longing for years to keep a sourdough starter alive and handy, like my Grandma always did, but somehow I killed every attempt through neglect or through some weird, wild stuff in the air that threw off the yeast situation.
This year, though, I started yet another sourdough baby with the help of a starter culture (San Francisco style, woot woot!) and it’s been stayin’ alive for a miraculously long while now. With my penchant for all things tart, the sourdough pancake turns out to be a perfect vehicle for whole grains, for bacterial goodness, AND for the many jars of homemade and naturally sweetened preserves I tend to make in bulk and forget about. Since the pancake itself isn’t sweet, I can enjoy the literal fruits of my labor without feeling a fructose/glucose overload. Plus, you can mix up a batch and save the leftovers in the fridge for easy weekday morning pancakes, or breakfast for dinner. It’s quite a deal.
To this recipe, you could add cinnamon and vanilla for extra warmth. You could add cumin and savory Latin toppings, or coriander and scallions for a different flair. You could add a sweetener and use all-purpose flour for a more traditionally breakfasty pancake. You could change up the whole grain component. This is a basic recipe, a blank canvas with nothing but that sourdough tang to influence your palate.
Sourdough spelt pancakes
1 C spelt flour
1/2 t fine celtic sea salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
2 C sourdough starter
2/3 C whole milk
Fat for frying
Sift the flour and other dry ingredients into a bowl. (I love this part. The flour looks so cool floating into the bowl.) Pour in the sourdough starter and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the milk, a bit at a time, until the batter reaches nearly pancake consistency, thin and runny as you like it. Stir in the eggs until fully combined.
Heat a skillet over medium and add a little of your cooking fat (butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, whatever). Use a quarter-cup measure to cook your pancakes until they’re golden on one side. Flip and repeat.
Enjoy, and don’t forget to feed your starter again before you put it away!