A day marking the traditional feast day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
Whatever… any excuse to eat pancakes!
My memories of this day growing up was rushing home from school (always starving), getting out my mum’s old griddle and making pancakes with my brother. I would do the mixing. We would then wait for my dad to come in from the farm, and guzzle down the warm pancakes with lashings of melted butter and strawberry jam until our bellies were full.
Now it’s time for some new traditions!
This recipe is for sourdough pancakes, for which you will need a sourdough starter- a culture of flour, water and wild yeasts which act as the raising agent, giving the pancakes a tangy flavoursome taste. Not only is sourdough more digestable (better for your gut!), it’s also more nutritious and has a lower GI (meaning energy is released more slowly).
Time is required to prepare the starter (about 5 days in fact), but once you have this, with daily feeding you can keep it alive and use to make breads, pizza bases or whatever you like. Consider it your very own low-maintenance pet.
The flours I used were provided by my friends at the Small Food Bakery, but you can use any flour combination (however the rye flour with higher gluten content will help make a more active starter to help your pancakes rise).
Here’s how to make your starter, then we’ll move onto the pancakes!
Sourdough Starter (credit to Small Food Bakery).
What you need:
- A bowl
- Some clingfilm
- White flour
- Rye flour
What to do:
Mix a heaped teaspoon of rye flour, a heaped teaspoon of white flour and 2 tablespoons of water in your bowl until completely combined. Cover with cling film or foil and leave in a warm, draft free place until the next day.
Add to your mixture from the day before 4 tablespoons of water, two heaped teaspoons of rye flour and two heaped teaspoons of rye flour to the bowl. Mix thoroughly and cover, returning to a warm, draft free place. It should look about the same as it did the day before.
By now, your mixture should be starting to ferment! You might see some tiny bubbles, and notice a slightly sour smell. The extent of the culture activity depends on room temperature and the freshness of your flour, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look too active yet- just carry on through the process to the next step. Discard half of the mixture from your bowl, then add 4 tablespoons of water, two heaped teaspoons of rye and three heaped teaspoons of white flour. Cover and return to a warm, draft free place.
Can you see some bubbles? Hopefully yes! Now discard half the starter again, then add 4 tablespoons of water, two heaped teaspoons of rye and four heaped teaspoons of white flour. Cover and return to a warm, draft free place.
Your starter should be more active by now, with larger bubbles forming and a stronger smell. There may be some signs that it has risen and fallen again. If so, you now have your very own culture of wild yeasts and lactic bacteria that you can use to form the basis of a sourdough. Discard half of your starter again and then add 4 tablespoons of water, two heaped teaspoons of rye and four heaped teaspoons of white flour. Cover and return to a warm, draft free place.
THE MORNING OF USE:
Your starter should be showing signs of rising and falling by now, with a definite structure of air pockets. Feed the starter once more (it’s a hungry old thing!), this time building it to a larger quantity ready to use. Discard half the starter again, then add 8 tablespoons of water, 3 heaped teaspoons of rye and 6 heaped teaspoons of white flour. Cover and return to a warm, draft free place.
Your starter is raring to go!
The recipe for these pancakes was inspired by a food night at Small Food Bakery (if you know me, you’ll know I’m a fan). Again, all credit goes to them.
p.s. It’s important to separate the eggs and whisk the whites for this recipe- that’s the secret of the light and fluffy batter.
Sourdough Pancakes (for one *greedy* portion)
What you need:
- 1 egg (free range; preferable)
- 1 heaped tbsp of active sourdough starter
- 1/4 cup of milk (any type, I used soya)
- 1 tbsp self-raising flour (white or wheat)
- 1 tbsp grain flour (use your grain of choice- I used spelt and buckwheat)
- 2 bowls
- electric whisk
- fork or hand whisk
- frying pan
- table spoon
- oil of choice for frying (I use coconut oil)
What to do:
- Separate the egg yolk and white into 2 bowls.
- With an electric whisk, beat the white until fluffy and the mixer creates lines in the foam.
3. To the bowl with the yolk, add the sourdough starter, milk and flours.
4. Use a whisk or fork to mix well until no lumps
5. With the spatula, lift some of the beaten egg white and gently fold into the batter, using a chopping motion to incorporate it as smaller lumps.
6. Once incorporated, get the oil melted in a hot frying pan and make 3 pancakes with the batter.
7. Allow time for the pancakes to start to bubble, and change colour from shiny pale, to matt beige. Then it’s flip time!
8. Once flipped, cook the pancakes until golden on the other side.
Get your toppings ready…
I made the recipe for savoury pancakes using buckwheat flour, served with avocado, spring onion & lime mash, smokey baked beans, crispy smoked bacon and a poached egg.
Dessert option was made adding 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and cinnamon into the batter, then popping in some sliced banana when cooking in the pan.
I served mine with chocolate espresso coconut cream sauce (leftover from some cake-making), and roasted almonds to top.
Be as creative as you like!
Pancake day is all about having fun. If all you want is some butter and lemon juice, go ahead. Slap it with Nutella. Get out the smoked salmon and ricotta. Eat until you’re stuffed.
Until next year…or weekend. Because pancakes are for anytime, anyday.