In less than a year we have fostered three yeast colonies. The first two slowly solidified in the fridge after weeks of neglect. I was worried, therefore, when I was given Atlantis III, that it would suffer the same fate: I would grow tired of throwing away perfectly good sourdough starter and cease to take it out of the fridge at all. Perhaps the world of sourdough starters is new to you, in which case you may be wondering why it would be kept in the fridge or why I would have to throw it away. Here’s what I used to do: twice a day discard half the sourdough starter and feed the rest with a half cup of flour and a quarter cup of water. If I didn’t want to babysit the starter during the week, I put it in the fridge, thereby slowing down the ravenous yeasts’ metabolism. But this time something has changed. In addition to a new yeast colony, I received a recipe for sourdough starter pancakes (in fact, I might go so far as to say that I only accepted a new yeast colony after hearing about the recipe for sourdough pancakes). My friends said this pancake recipe changed their lives. Well, it has changed mine too. Instead of ever having to throw out part of the starter I use it directly in the pancakes, and the flavor is just divine. Really, I look forward to the weekend because of these pancakes. We have had them every Saturday and Sunday morning for breakfast for nearly the last month and I’m far from being tired of them. And even when I’m snuggled up in bed on a Friday night, I am willing to brave the cold evening air to race downstairs, take Atlantis III out of the fridge and feed her, because otherwise I won’t get my pancake fix. If throwing away sourdough starter kept you from keeping a yeast colony of your very own, I present you with the pancake recipe that might just change your life.
(enough for 2-3 people)
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons oil (I use olive oil)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar OR one heaping spoonful of honey
Grated lemon, lime, or orange peel (optional)
Using a whisk, mix all the ingredients except for the baking soda until very well incorporated. Heat a skillet with a small pat of butter (or oil). Add the baking soda to the batter and incorporate well while trying to stir as little as possible. Fry the pancakes on medium-low heat for about a minute per side. Or rather, flip them as soon as you can see them start to bubble, and if the underside is too dark by then, turn down the heat. I usually make ~3 inch diameter pancakes (4 at a time). Keep the cooked pancakes warm under a lid or in the oven at 170 degrees F.
2-3 cups frozen strawberries
2-3 cups water
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier (or vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 packed tablespoons brown sugar
Place frozen strawberries and water in a large pot. Bring the water to a simmer while you make the pancakes. The strawberries will slowly soften and turn the water a deep red. I simply let the strawberries cook for as long as it took to make the pancakes, probably 30-40 minutes, but I was careful to add more water to the syrup if the sauce got too thick. Add the lemon juice and Grand Marnier early on in the cooking. Towards the end add the brown sugar if the sauce is not as sweet as you would like. Even a small amount of sugar made the syrup sweet enough to eat as the only pancake topping (normally I prefer both fruit and maple syrup).