I’m back to report that I did in fact make those sourdough pancakes, and they were a rip-roaring success. They’re certainly the best pancakes I’ve ever made, and up there in the ranks of all the pancakes I’ve eaten. My hunch is that their awesomeness is directly correlated to the butter in which I fried them, but I don’t imagine the sourdough starter could have hurt.
I based my pancakes on the recipe found on the Cultures for Health website. I had to get a little creative since it turned out that I didn’t have enough sourdough starter (without using it all up, that is, and thus sacrificing the chance to actually experiment with making sourdough bread with my pioneer woman culture!). I don’t like to deviate from recipes at least the first time I use them, especially where pseudo-baking is involved, but necessity, aka hunger, is the mother of invention, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
Rather than the two cups of starter called for, I had all of 1/3 of a cup available, so I put that in a mixing bowl and added about one cup of all purpose King Arthur flour. I threw in an egg (I think that was a new one for me in my pancake making repertoire), 1.5 tablespoons of maple syrup, one tablespoon of oil, one teaspoon of baking soda, and mixed together til blended. The recipe calls for 3+ tablespoons of milk, water, or coconut milk, and I ended up pouring a couple of seconds’ worth of both water and 2% milk in order to thin out the mix and turn it into a drippy pancake batter. This eyeballing seemed to go well, as I was happy with the consistency after stirring in the liquids(s).
I got the butter sizzling in the pan, and started spooning in the batter.
I turned my back for a few moments, and when I redirected my attention to the stove I was greeted with the welcome sight of giant bubbles on the top of the two currently cooking pancakes.
Sadly, yes, that is the majority of my counter space.
I finished cooking up all the batter and sat down to a feast. These pancakes were seriously fantastic. Perfectly crispy on the outside (thank you, butter) and light and fluffy on the inside (baking soda and sourdough, I’m looking at you). I had just gone to the gym so I refused to feel guilty about eating the whole batch!
As pictured, I had a whole array of toppings to try. Clockwise from left: butter, maple syrup, blueberry jelly, and apple butter. The maple syrup and blueberry jelly tied for most amazing — though it’s just now occurring to me that I should have combined the two for an A++ flavor.
I’m so pleased that these pancakes turned out so well even with my recipe tweaking. I did use all of the same ingredients but just in slightly different proportions, and with the addition of that all-purpose flour. My unintentional experimentation would have gotten a nod of approval from the author of a recent NY Times Magazine food article called “A Measured Approach to Cooking.” The journalist Tamar Adler encourages cooks to avoid getting too bogged dogged in precise measurements.
[One woman] scooped the flour for making pasta dough in the palm of her hand. She only used pinches of this and that. The mother of a man I met on a flight made chocolate cake and egg noodles using thin, dark, little tin cups. “They had no measurements on them,” he told me, his head bowed reverently. “She knew.”
But of course, these capable women were measuring. They were simply using units that weren’t standardized from house to house, from kitchen to kitchen.
I may have to try making Ms. Adler’s Unmeasured Crepes next.