Sourdough Pancakes: Ancestral Cook-Up October 2020

Sourdough pancakes are simple, delicious and can be made and enjoyed in so many ways.

You can eat them sweet and crispy for a continental style breakfast.

You can cook them soft, fill them with beans and roll them up.

You can add spices to the batter and use them like tacos, filling with salad, fish, chicken and sauce.

And the sourdough pancakes I’ll show you as part of this month’s Ancestral Cook-Up are super-easy: You don’t need eggs or milk. You don’t need a certain type of flour. And, as you’ll see, you don’t even need a sourdough starter.

My favourite sourdough pancake is made with spelt and chestnut flour. I love topping it with miso and linseed, drizzling a little olive and then folding it in half and tucking in! My son likes wholegrain spelt with a little mashed banana added to the batter. My hubby has rye flour and tops it with butter which melts in to little rivers over the warm surface.

Sounds good, right?

In addition to the simple preparation and the joyful eating, sourdough pancakes can also be a tool for making the world the way we want it to be.

Who wouldn’t vote for that whilst eating well?!

Buy organic flour locally and along with the sourdough element, you’ll be looking after not only the gut biomes and digestive systems of yourself and your family, but also actively choosing to support local economy and sustainable agriculture.

As always this month’s Ancestral Cook-Up is all about flexibility and individual creativity. With that in mind, the only ingredients that are absolutely essential for this dish are flour and fat; take my template for this dish and make it work for you, your family and your kitchen.

Ancestral Cook-Up is a monthly virtual cook-along. It works like this:

  • Check out the template recipe
  • Adapt it to suit your kitchen
  • Cook it some time this month
  • Share what you’ve done

Sourdough Pancakes

Ingredients:

Essential:

Flour (I use c.200g for three 22cm pancakes)

Water

Fat (for frying)

Optional:

Salt

Batter additions, for example, herbs and spices, malt, seeds/nuts, fruit.

I love adding ground malt to my batter.

Let’s look at each of these ingredients:

Flour:

My go to flour for sourdough pancakes is wholegrain spelt. I use it because it’s local and I love the flavour. Use what you like, what you can buy locally, what you feel like experimenting with.

As well as using wholegrain and white spelt, I’ve used wholegrain emmer, einkorn and barley along with various ancient grain wheats. I regularly make wholegrain rye pancakes, or add a little rye into my spelt. I love the taste of buckwheat pancakes (the traditional Breton crepe flour) and also use other gluten free flours such as rice and chestnut.

From very top, clockwise: wholegrain rye, wholegrain buckwheat, wholegrain spelt, chestnut, white spelt and rice flours

The world of flours is your oyster!

The only things to be aware of that I’ve stumbled over are as follows:

– A 100% rice flour pancake will struggle to hold together. Try using half rice flour and half another type.

– Barley flour has a tendency to create sticky pancakes if it is left to ferment. If you want to used more than 30% barley, add it just before you fry the pancakes for best results.

Liquid:

I always use water – making the batter as I would a sourdough bread dough, but with more liquid.

You could, however, try experimenting with any type of milk or milk kefir.

Fat:

I have fried sourdough pancakes in ghee, lard, tallow and olive oil. On occassion, I have also used coconut oil, but this tends to smoke more readily, so requires more attention.

Optional extras:

From here, any optional extras you wish you add will paint your pancakes with a different flavour.

Salt or flavoured salt is a nice addition.

Herbs can be added – rosemary, thyme and oregano work well.

Spices such as cinammon and mace help make a sweet-flavoured pancake, or coriander (whole or powdered) along with other complimentary spices such as tumeric and cumin can give you a zingy result.

Sometimes I’ll grate in some lemon zest.

Chopped onion along with nigella seeds makes a lovely savory base.

The process:

Make the batter:

When you do this depends on the time you have available and how sour you like your pancakes.

I recommend making the batter the night before and leaving it on the kitchen counter. But if you’re short on time or live in a very hot climate you could mix it up just a few hours before you want to eat.

Mix the flour and water together, with a generous blob of sourdough starter (for me, this translates to c. 30g sourdough starter per 200g of flour) until you get a smooth batter. Too runny and it will not hold together in the pan, too thick and it won’t cook well.

If you do not have a sourdough starter:

The use of a sourdough starter is not necessary to ferment your batter and make it into ‘sourdough’. If you do not have this, you can add a little milk kefir or yogurt to the batter, or you can leave it to ferment using solely the natural yeasts and bacteria that are on the grain and in your environment.

Cooking the pancakes:

Sourdough pancakes can often develop holes – I call this ‘turning crumpety’ when you cook them

I cook in a cast iron pan.

This requires more patience and practise than non-stick. Here’s what I can pass on from my kitchen:

1/ Make sure your pan is well-seasoned.

2/ Pre-heat

Put your pan on to a medium/medium-high heat at 10-12 minutes before you are ready to cook the pancakes and leave it to thoroughly heat up. You want it as hot as possible without making the fat you are going to use smoke.

3/ Add the fat

Add a good tablespoon of fat to the hot pan, let it melt and move it around so it covers the whole base.

Do not be afraid to use a lot of fat. Fat is your friend.

4/ Spoon in the batter

For a 22cm pan, I use 2 ladles of batter. I pour this from the spoon into the centre of the pan and then I use the back of the spoon to spread the batter out.

5/ Watch and turn

When the top surface of the pancake has completely changed colour and not longer looks wet, it is ready to turn. Use a fish slice under it, detaching any sticky parts and flip.

5/ Cook until no longer soft

To be done, the pancake should be golden brown and not feel too squishy inside when you push gently on its surface. This may mean turning the pan down during the cooking process, if burning starts to be obvious. It’s fine to turn the pancake a few times.

6/ Top and serve

Pancakes can be kept warm in a low oven to enable everyone to have theirs hot. If you make too many, they store well in the fridge for a day or so and can be warmed up in a pan or under the grill for a few minutes.

leftovers can be a quick breakfast or supper treat!

Sharing it:

I want to see and hear about your process: your ingredients and why you chose them, how you’re cooking them, the finished bread, how you eat it and who you share it with. I’ll be posting pictures on Instagram @ancestral_kitchen and on my blog. If you’re on instagram, post using the hashtag #ancestralcookup and tag me (@ancestral_kitchen). If you don’t have instagram, please do comment at the bottom of my blog post – you can upload your pictures there too.

If you want to give it a go, I thank you. I’ve been looking for a community of cooks for a while. At the moment that seems harder than normal. If you can help make it more than just me in my kitchen, you get a big heap of my gratitude.

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