Healthy eating: it’s time to jump on the sourdough starter band
During the pandemic, sourdough became fashionable. People are no longer at home; they’re baking more often and social media has made sourdough the superstar of the baking world right now. So much so that people give names to their sourdoughs as if they were new pets in the family. I have had a sourdough starter since 2018 and have managed to keep it alive. I had times where I thought he was dead but somehow I was always able to bring him back to life. I love using it in breads, waffles, and pancakes. I just discovered a new recipe that uses “rejection” or excess… but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Sourdough is a culinary staple that dates back thousands of years. It is inexpensive to make, absolutely delicious, and provides therefore many wonderful health benefits. Basically it’s flour and water. That’s it. Sourdough sourdough is used in a traditional type of artisanal leavened bread without the use of commercial yeast. Instead, the dough goes through a slow fermentation process and rises from wild yeast. Fermentation is a natural process in which “friendly” bacteria break down sugars in food to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid gives sourdough its characteristic sour taste and ability to stay fresher for longer.
Sourdough offers better digestion for those who have difficulty processing ordinary foods containing gluten. The sourdough stays fresh a lot longer than other baked goods and contains no added preservatives. Enzymes produced by friendly bacteria act as natural preservatives to prevent the growth of molds and fungi. Sourdough is better for blood sugar control and diabetic meal plans because carbohydrates are broken down during slow fermentation. This means fewer spikes and drops in blood sugar. Nutrients are much more readily available for our bodies to absorb in sourdough than white or whole wheat breads. The leaven is also a prebiotic which helps to grow and maintain healthy bacteria in the intestines which provide protection against disease and infection.
Regular wheat and flour contain high levels of phytic acid. Although phytic acid is a protective mechanism for grains, it is problematic for humans. Phytic acid is classified as an anti-nutrient. It blocks the absorption of calcium, iron and zinc, promoting mineral deficiencies. Bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, and that “heavy” stomach feeling after eating regular gluten products such as bread and pasta are common complaints. The ancient tradition of soaking grains and cultivating wild yeast was a natural way to combat the known negative effects of wheat on humans. During the fermentation process, gluten is pre-digested. Because lactic acid (produced by friendly bacterial colonies) breaks down gluten, starter has the benefit of improving digestibility for many people with generalized gluten intolerance.
Recently I came across this sourdough pancake recipe which is easy and great for a special weekend breakfast. I filled half the pancakes with a ham and cheese mixture and the other half with a fresh raspberry coulis. Each person received a sweet and savory pancake. I found this recipe delicious and quick (you don’t need to let the dough rest.) If you don’t have sourdough sourdough, consider hitting the bandwagon! You will need to start one and wait for it to develop before using this recipe. I hate throwing away my excess starter and have found this to be the perfect solution for using up the trash. Hope you enjoy them as much as my family and know that you are nourishing your body in a wonderful way.
Makes 4-6 pancakes, depending on the size of your pan (use a 10-13 inch cast iron pan)
· If you want even thinner pancakes that roll up very easily for blintz-type applications, add another egg.
· A few drops of vanilla extract or other depending on how you plan to roll out the pancakes. Whether sweet or savory, adding powdered spices to the batter is a great way to harmonize the flavors of your topping.
· If you like sweet pancakes, feel free to add a little sweetener to the batter. I like mine unsweetened, although the filling ends up being sweet, because I like the contrast between the sweet and the sour.
You can adjust the dough volume according to the size of your mold. (This will be closer to 1/4 cup if your pan has a more standard 12-inch diameter.)
· Before baking the first pancake, I quickly rub the end of a stick of cold butter around the bottom of the pan. You don’t need to add more fat after that; each pancake should cry enough butter to lubricate itself as it goes. If the bottom of your pan is too much oily, the dough will not flow around the edges of the pan and will not turn out beautiful and thin.
· Don’t be tempted to flip the pancakes too early, they are a bit brittle until they have started to color on the underside.
1-1 / 2 cups (425g) 100% sourdough (discard / excess)
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) sea salt
4 tablespoons (57 g) butter, melted
1. Whisk the eggs and salt in the starter until well combined, beating air to make nice frothy bubbles. Incorporate the butter. (It is not necessary to let the dough rest at this point since the gluten in your starter is already fully developed.)
2. Heat a carbon steel or nonstick skillet, or an iron pancake pan over low heat for at least 10 minutes.
3. Increase the heat to medium and heat the pan for 1 minute. Add a small amount of butter or oil to the pan, then wipe the pan dry with a paper towel. Ladle the batter down the middle of the pan, then tilt the pan to direct the batter in an even layer all around. When the top is no longer shiny and the edges start to brown, after a minute or so, turn the pancake over and cook for another minute or so. Transfer the pancake to a dish and repeat with the rest of the dough.
4. After you have made your stack of pancakes, return them one by one to the pan (if you want them hot) and fill them, fold them and garnish them as you see fit. I prefer to cover half of the pancake with filling, then fold the other half over and press down gently, then fold the semicircle in half again to get a well layered quadrant result.
– By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She “dances with the NED” (no evidence of illness) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who enjoys cooking from scratch and sharing her experiences with family and friends. She attended a cooking school on the east coast and freelance works in town for local chefs. His current interest in food is to learn to eat for health and well-being, while enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation, including the butter.” Deborah can be contacted at [email protected]