Our Newsletter
Did you know Mike sends out a newsletter (almost) every week? It's filled with news about bread or whatever Mike is excited about this time. It's "Mike's (more or less) Weekly Baking Tips"!

2019-07-28 Discarded Pancakes
No, don't discard the pancakes,
make them with discarded starter!
And some discussion of starter handling too!

There are so many life or death decisions and opinions that surround sourdough. And, to paraphrase Mick Jagger, "You can't be a man if you don't feed your starter the same way as me!" For years, I kept my starter in the fridge (PLEASE, not the frig. Google it. I'll wait.) and fed it up for three days before I made bread. This worked really well, and was nice in that I had little to no excess, or discarded, sourdough starter.

However, that left some questions. Is my starter maturing, the way one that stayed at room temperature and was fed twice a day would? Is it making as good a bread as a starter kept at room temperature and fed twice a day? Do I have the patience to feed my starter twice a day, even though I'm not baking this week? So, I decided to keep my starter at room temperature and feed it twice a day. I worked with spreadsheets to keep the bare minimum I needed to feed up for my next bake with just a smidge left over. But, life intruded, as it so often does. My mother and father are getting older and are physically frail, so emergencies come up and bakes that were scheduled just don't happen. So, I'd feed the starter. And when the amount became unmanageable, I'd discard most of it. Some people discard half their starter every day. It IS a bit wasteful, but less wasteful than feeding the starter again and again until you have enough to fill a swimming pool in 10 days, or less.

Since I abhor food - and money - waste - I didn't actually discard the starter, I saved it in an 8 quart container in the fridge. However, last week I was reaching a critical point. It was time to DO something with the starter before it took over the fridge (remember, NOT the frig).

For a few recent weeks we've been making Seeded Sourdough Lavash Crackers and they've been great! I also think that the last time we made them we got some good video footage and a good audio track, so we may have a video soon! (Also, why do we still call it video footage when no film is used? And why do we still "dial" a phone? Or "roll down" a car window? Anachronistic phrases all!) But, with the video shot, it was time to do something else.

One something else is to go back to keeping a starter at 65% hydration in the fridge and feeding it up for three days before a bake. Less wastage! And I don't see any quality differences. If you downloaded my sourdough feedup calculator, use the "Professor Calvel" feeding regimen to make about 500 grams of thick starter for the fridge. It will keep with no further attention for several months.

Sadly, my doctor put me on a no-fiber diet for the next week so there isn't much I can eat in the house since we just don't do low fiber, and there won't be until after the next grocery store run. The Lavash crackers are WAY out of the question, as are all the whole wheat breads I made last week. So, I've been having more white flour ciabattas in my diet, but we're talking breakfast here! What else can we do for breakfast?A plate piled high with sourdough pancakes! Well, I gave it away in the headline, didn't I? Pancakes made with white flour will fit into my demented doctor's no-fiber diet. And sourdough makes them better!

Sometimes, when you have a number of problems, they can be used to solve each other! So, sourdough pancakes - they taste great, they use up some of the starter, and they are low in fiber. When I first got into sourdough, I was a regular at the UseNet newsgroup rec.food.sourdough, and I still refer to their FAQ and recipes often. These are excellent resources if you understand one important thing - they are not curated, they are collected. So, there are more ways of starting a starter, or using one, than you can imagine. When I was a beginner, this frustrated me because I was looking for the One True Answer. Now, I realize that there isn't One True Answer. And the collection is valuable for the variety of information, for the disparate voices, it holds. If you go there, and I hope you will, try to remember that even if what you read there isn't the way you did it, or the way your favorite sourdough guru does it, it did work for someone, and worked well enough for them to want to document their processes and procedures.

It is delightful how many pancake and waffle recipes are there! This is one of them. And with no further time wasting ado, let's make some pancakes! I may try waffles Tuesday!

Grams Ingredient Baker's Percentage Cups/Spoons
500 grams Sourdough Starter 217% 2 Cups
150 grams Eggs 65% 3 each
480 grams Milk 210% 2 cups
230 grams Unbleached flour 100% 1 3/4 cups
50 grams Sugar 22% 1/4 cup
8 grams Baking Powder 3.5% 2 tsp
5 grams Baking Soda 2% 1 tsp
8 grams Salt 3.5% 1 1/2 tsp
This will make around 28 four inch pancakes.

Put the eggs in a large bowl and beat them thoroughly. Add the milk and sourdough starter. Stir.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Stir the ingredients together with a few swift sure strokes, you don't want to overwork the batter - a few lumps are OK. My favorite tool for this is a stainless steel dough whisk, like this one from Tovolo.A Tovolo Stainless Steel Dough Whisk Heat a griddle to 375F/190C. I have to admit I really prefer an electric griddle as they are easier to adjust. You don't want to put too much oil on the griddle, just a light film.

About 1/3 cup of batter will make a 4 inch pancake. Let it cook until the top has bubbles on that open up, then flip the pancake to let the other side brown. Keep them warm by covering them with a tea towel, ptting them in a warming oven, or putting them in your oven set to its lowest temperature.

I suggest cooking all the pancakes at once. We made a double batch, cooked enough for breakfast and then went back to the kitchen to cook the rest of the pancakes after breakfast. The baking soda had reacted with the acid in the starter, and the batter was much thinner than it had been 30 minutes earlier. The first pancakes were nice and thick, the later ones very thin.

What do you put on your pancakes? We're pretty much open to anything here! Maple syrup, of course, but only real maple syrup! We like honey on our pancakes, ginger syrup from The Ginger People, Steen's Ribbon Cane Syrup, Sorgum syrup, and many jams, jellies and preserves. We've even been known to wrap an unsuspecting hot dog or sausage in pancake batter and call it breakfast! Why don't you tell me what you do with your pancakes?

That was really tasty! May your pancakes always rise, even if you let the batter stand too long!
-Mike