Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day Sourdough Pancakes

My husband isn't really affected by food. I mean, when people ask me what I craved when I was pregnant, I'm stumped because I crave food irrationally all of the time.

But to Evan, food is fuel. He can tell the difference between a mediocre steak and a fantastic steak, but eating a fast food burger doesn't bring him down. It can be kind of hard to please a guy who is so easily pleased, if you know what I mean. For the first bit in our marriage, I was really stumped how to get him emotional about food. Since the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, I kind of felt like I wasn't really getting to him.

And then I realized that his one true (food) love is breakfast. From stuffed French toast to waffles, he loves it all. This all works out perfectly because he's made it a tradition that he'll make me dinner all by himself every Valentine's Day. He thinks that Valentines Day is solely a male responsibility, but since I love the holiday and don't want to be excluded, I've taken over breakfast.

This year, I wanted to try something that scares me. Although Evan's favorite pancakes are the sourdough variety, I've shied away from the task because it seems so daunting. But, I decided I would do it this year so I did my sourdough starter last week and it wasn't as hard as I thought!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup water

Keep mixture in a container with a loose lid in a room temperature location. Dump half of the mixture out every 24 hours and replace with another cup of flour and another cup of water. Mix. After 4 to 5 days, place mixture in the refrigerator and feed it on a weekly basis.

It's that simple! Who would've thought? I did do my research though, and here are the things I found out: 

There are lots of starter recipes out there. 
I searched around the interweb for quite some time and realized that there is an abundance of different recipes for starters. Some recipes call for sugar and yeast, this gives your starter a little boost and feeds it right off the bat. What I read about these recipes is that the end product will not be as potent. I never got a full reason why, but I decided to trust the other blog writer. Apparently, people have been doing the flour and water equal ratios for centuries (for reals). There are some restaurants in places like France that have sourdough starters that have been in the family for generations. 

This recipe seemed the easiest and the most authentic, so that's the way I went. 

It's hard to kill your starter.
This is really fortunate, because I'm not the best person to keep things like plants alive. This is why I have an aloe plant, which is pretty much just a fancy cactus. This is a feeding bacteria colony and it thrives when it has food and water, so you just need to remember to feed it on a daily, and then weekly basis. You will have sourdough for the rest of your life if you want it! Just remember to dump some out or use it so that it won't turn into a monster that takes over your fridge. 

You will see results quickly. 
The first day, the starter will just be a runny dough. The second, it will have bubbles and a darker color. The third, it will start to have a sour smell similar to beer. It will also have a thin layer of liquid on top. The fourth day, it will appear frothy and the smell will be a lot stronger. When it starts getting really bubbly like the picture above, it is okay to use. You can really use it before then because you can smell the sour smell faintly on even the second day, but if you want a strong flavor, wait until the fourth day. 

If you need any more reasons to make a sourdough starter, read the blog post from Nourished Kitchen here, although I didn't use that exact starter recipe or pancake recipe. There's just so many to choose from. 

The recipe I used came from here

Rich Sourdough Pancakes
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups Sourdough Starter
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter melted

Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk and sourdough starter.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar;
add to the egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in melted butter.
Lightly grease a hot griddle. Drop the batter by 1/4 cup onto
the griddle and cook until light brown, turning once.
Makes 6 servings.

I was a little scared at first to try them, just because I wasn't sure how well my starter turned out, but they were amazing! They tasted like a thicker, richer crepe. Add some strawberries and bacon and I know our Valentine's Day breakfast will be a big hit. 

If you're reading this and thinking, "well, shoot. It's too late to start." I'd still give it a try! My starter began smelling fermented the very next day, so you could definitely try it. The flavor just might be a little more mild, but a lot of people like mild sourdough. You can also put a little bit of yeast and sugar in to boost the process. 

Even if you don't have time for Valentine's Day pancakes, making a starter is a great idea! I'm really excited to keep feeding and using mine for breads, waffles, biscuits, and more. You can even make cookies and cakes, which would be pretty exciting. 


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