Friday, August 22, 2008

So You Have Your Starter...: Sourdough Hot Cakes

It makes no sense to find or make a sourdough starter and just use it for one recipe. It's not that it takes expensive ingredients -- it doesn't -- or great skill or huge amounts of time, it's just that, like the never-ending Amish Friendship Bread, if you're going to go to the trouble, might as well get the most out of it. And who doesn't like hotcakes? Let's go to Alaska "Sourdough" Cookin' for another starter-using recipe:
Sourdough Hotcakes

Sourdough Hotcakes, the main breakfast dish of prospectors, miners, and oldtime Alaskans, differ from other hotcakes in that the patter is leavened with a yeast starter and soda. The starter must be set the night before it is to be used. Some Alaskans are still using a starter traced back to an original starter brought into the country with the gold rush. To them the sourdough pot is a prized possession.

Measurements are not precise. If you prefer a thin pancake, you will add another egg or a bit more water. Of course, for a thicker cake, the batter should be thicker. At the time of baking, the batter for sourdough should be the same consistency as the batter for other hotcakes that are family favorites.

Sourdough Hotcakes for three persons: Set aside 1/2 cup sponge in the refrigerator jar for your sourdough starter for the next time. To remaining sponge, add:

1 or 2 eggs
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda dissolved in 1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. sugar

Beat with a fork and blend in all ingredients. If you like, add several tbsp. of non-fat dry milk powder to any of the sourdough recipes at this point. Add soda/water mixture just before baking. Bake on a hot griddle. Turn once. Serve with a mixture of hot brown sugar syrup, or honey and melted butter. Molasses, jelly or rose hip syrup are other tasty combinations.

For interesting variations add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, cornmeal, wheat germ or bran flakes to the batter. (Two eggs will provide the liquid for this addition).

Oregon guilt: I feel silly having to say that "soda" here means "baking soda" and not "soda pop." Why is that Oregon guilt? Because I never called soda pop "soda" until I moved to the East Coast 18 years ago; it was always just "pop."

I wonder a bit why they don't suggest maple syrup. I mean, I know that maple syrup is generally thought of as an East Coast or Midwest thing, but the brown sugar mentioned isn't exactly native to Alaska. I am also skeptical about adding bran flakes to the batter -- I don't want cereal in my hotcakes, thank you very much.

What do I want in my pancakes? Crumbled bacon. Or blueberries and chocolate chips. And butter is a necessity, not just an option to be paired solely with honey.

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