Sourdough pancakes may sound strange to you, they certainly did to me the first time I heard about them, but they are a special treat in my husband's family. They are thin, almost crepe-like (or they should be anyway, I haven't managed to get mine that thin yet) with a little bit of sourdough tang. They take quite a bit more work than your average pancake, but for my husband (who craves this childhood favorite) it is totally worth it.
The most difficult part about this recipe is creating and maintaining a sourdough starter. The bonus is that the starter can be used for all sorts of things - not just pancakes. I have yet to make a loaf of sourdough bread, but I plan to sometime soon.
Really, all you need to make the starter is 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water - then you let it sit out, uncovered, somewhere warm until it is bubbly and frothy (usually about a week). If you are like me, however, and you do not care about authentic sourdough snobbery and "local flavor", you can add a bit of yeast (less than a teaspoon) to kick-start the thing and it will be ready overnight. If you do not take the shortcut, you will have to feed the starter every 24 hours while it is forming by throwing out 1/2 and adding a 1/2 cup each of flour and warm water. When it is bubbly and puffy and smells like beer, it is ready to move to the fridge. Once it is in the fridge, it only needs to be feed once a week (or less, really, it's pretty hard to kill). This works out great for me because the process of making the pancake batter feeds the starter - so if I make pancakes every weekend I am set!
I use a large ricotta container with holes poked in the lid to store my starter. You definitely want something with a large mouth - glass jars work really well - and no metal. Metal can react with the starter and ruin it - so don't stir it with anything metal either! You want the starter to be able to breathe - so poke a hole or two in the lid of whatever container you use.
Something that you will notice once it has been in the fridge awhile is a layer of beer smelling liquid that forms on top - this is hooch. Don't worry about it, just stir it in or pour it off depending on how dry or wet your starter is.
*Note - my starter information comes from an article by John Ross that doesn't seem to exist on the internet anymore.
From my MiL, Sue
Makes about 16 pancakes, enough for 4 people. Since we are only 2 people, I save half of the batter in the fridge (it will separate, just mix it back together) and make pancakes again the next day.
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar
The night before you plan to make the pancakes (for me this is every Friday) take the starter out of the fridge, dump into a glass or plastic (not metal) bowl and mix in the flour and warm water. Mix well, cover lightly (I use a kitchen towel) and keep warm overnight. This is called "proofing". This is a good time to rinse out your starter container.
In the morning, mix well and take out 1 cup of starter to save in the fridge for the next time. In the remaining starter, mix in the eggs, oil, and milk. It will take a bit of work to get everything to incorporate, but keep at it. Once that is mixed well, add the salt, baking powder, and sugar and fold in. Cook the pancakes as you would normally, noting that the batter will be thin.
I like to serve these with a ton of butter and some maple syrup, enjoy!