Last Updated on September 20, 2021
Skip straight to my recipe for sourdough discard pancakes
I love pancakes. It’s fair to say, my heart belongs to the pancakes I was brought up with. Lace-like crepes sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. The sort your mother valiantly tries to toss in the pan to keep everyone amused. The sort that are served in the UK on Shrove Tuesday, a way of using up eggs.
Yet, I am being tempted. And, it’s probably because of sourdough discard pancakes, a variation on the kind served in the USA with rashers of streaky bacon and maple syrup. The sourdough discard gives what is otherwise a rather thick, flavourless mixture and delicious tang. And, as anyone who makes sourdough bread will attest to, anything that makes sensible use of the discarded starter is to be treasured, perfected and eaten again and again.
It was in this way that my sourdough discard pizza came into existence. And, these sourdough starter pancakes fall into the same category. I’ve been playing around with various recipes on the web – some with sugar, some with none – and I’ve come up with my own version, this sourdough pancake recipe which makes the perfect pancake to serve either with a sweet topping (cream and berries or a fruit coulis) or as a savoury breakfast pancake with bacon.
The batter for these sourdough discard pancakes can be made up in advance, just reserving a couple of dry ingredients to add when you are ready to cook. I think it works best with at least half an hour of resting time at room temperature, but you can also leave the mixture in the fridge overnight if you want breakfast pancakes.
You’ll need a sourdough starter of course. It doesn’t seem to make any difference whether it is bubbly or something you have had lurking in the back of the fridge for a week. The other ingredients are those you’d expect for any pancake batter, plus a mixture of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to add the fluffiness. Both baking powder and bicarbonate of soda are activated by moisture, so I’ve found it best to put them to one side and add them right at the very end, just before ladling out the batter onto a hot skillet or frying pan.
I’ve used two eggs to a relatively small quantity of batter because I like the rich yellow pancakes they produce. But, if you want something lighter, you could use one egg or even two yolks. And, I’ve used semi-skimmed milk because that’s what I have – again, you could substitute buttermilk or full-fat milk for a richer effect. Although I use melted butter in the pancake batter, I find that frying the pancakes using a little vegetable oil works better because the high temperature that is best for the pancake tends to burn the butter.
The batter you need for this type of pancake is thick and creamy – slightly runnier than mayonnaise, but not much! If you add too much milk, your pancakes will be thinner – and if you add too little, you’ll end up with something like English crumpets! A lot depends on the sourdough discard you use, so I’d suggest adding milk until you think you’ve got something that is JUST pourable. For me, that’s the full 120ml of milk, but you may find you need more or less if you use a different ratio of flour to water in your sourdough starter.
Here’s the recipe for my sourdough discard pancakes.
Sourdough Discard Pancakes
- large skillet or frying pan
- 125 grams plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 120 grams sourdough discard (mine is made with equal quantities of flour to water)
- 2 medium eggs
- 120 millilitres semi-skimmed milk
- 30 grams unsalted butter
- vegetable oil to fry the pancakes
- toppings of your choice
- melt the butter in the microwave or in a small pan
- mix the sourdough discard with the flour
- add the eggs and mix well
- add enough milk to make a thick batter
- stir through the melted butter
- set the mixture to one side for at least 30 minutes. If you are planning to leave it for more than an hour then cover and put in the fridge
- when you are ready to make your pancakes, pre-heat the oven to 170C
- grease a skillet or heavy frying pan with vegetable oil
- mix together the salt, baking soda and baking powder
- stir the mixture into the batter
- heat the skillet over a moderately hot flame
- use a ladle to put two or three pancakes into the pan
- cook for 2 minutes or so till the edges puff up and bubble a bit
- use a fish slice or turner to flip them over and cook on the other side
- once they are cooked, pop them onto a baking tray and keep warm in the oven
- continue cooking till all the batter is used up
- serve hot with the toppings of your choice
- the cooked pancakes can be stored in a Tupperware tub in the fridge for a day or two and can be carefully reheated in a frying pan or microwave.
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