Living the Sourdough Life

So what can you do with a bunch of starter that’s been sitting out on the counter all night long? Why not eat it? Old school sourdough pancakes are nothing more than slightly sweetened, egg-enriched starter, poured onto a hot griddle. They were a staple of frontiersmen in the north woods back in the day, and are still a fabulous way to use up excess starter. The recipe goes like this:

2 cups sourdough starter, left sitting out all night
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking soda combined with 1 tablespoon water

Begin by putting your collapsed starter into a bowl…mine still has a few bubbles in it, as you can see…

Combine your soda and water.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Fold the egg-oil-salt-sugar mixture into the starter…

…then pour in the soda-water mixture.

As the soda reacts with the lactic acid in the starter, the mixture will turn foamy, as you can see.

Ladle the batter onto a hot, lubricated griddle and proceed as with any other pancake.

Sourdough pancakes are as light and flavorful a pancake as you’ll ever eat, and are infinitely variable. For a wheat pancake, simply combine a cup of white flour starter with a cup of 50-50 whole wheat flour-and-water mix (four ounces of each by weight) the afternoon or evening before, and leave it out until morning. The same thing will work with buckwheat, even rye if you want to try it — or any of those flours in combination. And that’s not including all the various fruits and/or flavorings you can add.

I tell you, there’s nothing like waking up to a batch of pre-made pancake mix, brought to you courtesy of natural fermentation. Thank you, Mr. Microbe!!!

13 thoughts on “Living the Sourdough Life”

  1. I am looking forward to trying this recipe this weekend. My Slovak grandmother used to make Lívance (Czech raised pancakes) when I was a kid and this seems very similar.

    I am a proud parent of a nice home grown starter which I use regularly…mostly for pizza dough (my own recipe)…but I have expanded my baking use of starter to breads, pastries, and now pancakes.

    Like PR, I do tend to add a bit of IDY in addition to the starter when more rising is desired, but the starter provides a depth of flavor and character to the baked goods that IDY alone cannot achieve.

    I am also a fan of long refrigerator rises, although I am considering buying a wine cooler so I can better control the temps.

    Anyway…I am glad I discovered your website. I think it is very well done!

    PS. Have you ever tried making Kolache (another central euro pastry)?

    1. I just found that you have tried making Kolache! Great! I will try your recipe.

      Thanks again.

    2. Thanks and welcome, Rod!

      The first time I ate sourdough pancakes it was a revelation. I wouldn’t eat anything else save for the fact that they’re too exotic tasting for my little ones right now. Someday they’ll learn! Cheers and let me know if I can answer any questions for you!

      – Joe

  2. I’ve been playing around with sourdough for 20 years. I have two issues. One…. I heard that adding baking soda to the sourdough kills all the yeast!,I want it to live, but I can’t realy get it to raise without it.
    Two…my sourdough bread isn’t very tall. I would like it to be as tall as it is wide but I get 1 to 2″ tall and 6 to 7″ wide. Got any ideas how to make my breakfast to be alive and my bread to be suitable for lunch?

    1. Hi Dave!

      Why are you adding soda to it? Can I see the recipe you’re using?

      Sourdough starters can be finicky to work with. Sometimes adding a little packaged yeast helps the bread. The starter gives you the flavor and the yeast gives you the height!


      – Joe

  3. These pancakes are delicious and i don’t really like pancakes. I tried it since i hate the idea of wasting a cup of starter and man am i glad i did!

    Thank you,

    1. Very glad to hear than Nando, they are amazingly simple and so much more interesting than standard pancakes I think. Thanks for the note!

      – Joe

  4. Hi Joe,

    I think I read somewhere that in old recipes, they had you combine baking soda with water because it was made differently back then and needed this extra step. Do you happen to know whether that’s true, or whether I’m just making it up?

    Also, I made these today and they were delicious!

    1. Glad to hear it, Lonely Noodle!

      As far as diluting soda, I’ve never heard of that before…which is not to say it isn’t accurate. However I can’t think of a reason for diluting sodium bicarbonate. Hmmm….I’ll have to look it up.


      – Joe

  5. Woah. So, so good. I didn’t know it but this is the pancake recipe we’ve been searching for!

    Light and fluffy, crispy edges, and a soft sour flavor. Thank you, Joe. I’ll make sure to accidentally make more starter than I can use. 😀

    1. Woohoo!

      Love hearing things like that, Pica! Thanks so much for the note!

      – Joe

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