It was late in the evening. I was tired. I’d had a whole half-glass of wine (yes, a HALF glass). It turned out to be a bad combination for successfully doing math. Who’d have thought it?
I was attempting to feed my sourdough starter. This usually requires a ratio of 1 part water to almost 2 parts flour. I was aiming to add about two cups of flour, but instead added two cups water. Which means I now needed FOUR cups of flour, twice what I intended to use. Which also then meant I now had nearly eight cups of starter after adding in what I already had. Sooooo… that meant I had a lot of sourdough starter and I really wasn’t feeling it to make that much bread. Well, crud.
Thankfully I had time to think (and sleep) while the starter did it’s thing. By morning I was looking at a very full bowl of bubbly goo, but now had an idea. The reason sourdough has its name is because it’s… sour. Sour things tend to be acidic. Acids make bubbles in the presence of a base, like baking soda. Bubbles make things fluffy, like pancakes. Bingo.
Now you may wonder whether that sour flavor from sourdough works for pancakes. Yes, yes it does. These pancakes have a slightly tangy flavor, kind of like buttermilk, but this actually gives them flavor. Most pancakes are just kind of dull with a hint of sugar. They are made edible by slapping on a hunk of butter and drowning them in syrup. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll still put those on my sourdough pancakes, but it’ll be anything but boring!
I also like to use whole wheat pastry flour (or 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all purpose) for the same reason. That little bit of whole grain turns the pancakes into something with a lot more depth and texture. It lends a little rustic touch and gives you a breakfast that fills you up without feeling like you just ate lead weights. Not really an appetizing thought, is it?
Some quick notes before you begin:
This recipe will work with fed or unfed starter, so this is a great way to use up any extra starter you have. However you don’t want to use starter that was recently fed so wait at least 12 hours before using it for this recipe. You need the acidity levels to be built up and feeding too recently will dilute it.
Be sure to check out my instructions for sourdough starter since the amount of water and flour people use may differ. I have two methods: a no-waste traditional starter, and a quick and easy “cheater’s” version. By the way, there is zero reason to have sourdough discard! Check out my no-waste process in the above link for keeping your sanity and reducing your grocery bill when dealing with sourdough.
If you want to make multiple batches, you may want to do them one at a time unless you have an extra large griddle that has lots of room for several pancakes at a time. The bubbles that will give your pancakes their fluffy lift will start to deflate over time, and will be burst each time you dip your ladle in to scoop out the batter. By the time you finish you’ll be looking at flat batter if you start with too much.
Fluffy Sourdough Pancakes Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 3/4 cup all purpose and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour), measure the flour by whisking it and gently scooping it into a measuring cup
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 1/2 cup sourdough starter
Preheat a griddle to 350 F. If you don’t have one, have a flat bottom pan ready to be heated. You may want to use a non-stick spray or melted butter as needed to keep the pancakes from sticking.
Measure the dry ingredients (flour through salt) into a large bowl. Whisk together until combined.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly. Add in the butter and beat together. Add the milk, vanilla, and sourdough starter and mix until completely combined.
Pour the sourdough mixture into the flour and quickly, but gently, mix to combine. You don’t want to overwork the batter as that will lead to tough pancakes as well as deflate the bubbles that will start forming. Mix until the flour is incorporated but it is okay if some small lumps of flour remain.
Ladle the batter onto the preheated griddle or pan. You may want to test a small spoonful first to see if the surface is hot enough. You should see the batter start to tighten up and small bubbles appear on the surface. The size you make the pancakes is up to you, but remember big ones are harder to flip and may not cook evenly. The time to flip pancakes is when the surface is covered with several bubbles and is starting to look dry. Carefully flip them over using a spatula and cook until both sides are golden brown. Adjust the temperature of your griddle or pan as needed to prevent scorching or too slow of cooking. It should take only a couple of minutes per side if the settings are good.
If you type in Greek spoon sweet into the search bar on this page, you see a handful of recipes for making a type of traditional Greek sweet from seasonal fruits and sugar. They always result in a syrup being formed, and these make EXCELLENT options for topping your pancakes and waffles (as do all jams and jellies!). Check them out and enjoy!