Ahhhhhhh, we nibbled on pancakes for breakfast - orange zest and pecan sourdough pancakes. Don't shrug your shoulders, it was a really big moment marking a turn toward post-flu status, a renewed interest in food, and our first meal together downstairs at the table in ages. I think we've won our separate battles with the flu bug, and are so very ready to find some energy and get moving again.
I was relieved to find the sourdough starter had kept bubbling along happily in the fridge all the while we ticked off days/weeks of inactivity, sleeping, napping, and basically moving as little as possible. It (the starter) responded to a routine feeding and overnight rest, then produced lovely light, fluffy pancakes this morning. Like a reliable friend, the starter came through when we needed it. This particular starter strain originally came from a King Arthur purchase, replacing an older home-grown, potato-water based batch that had spoiled from neglect. I like to think the new batch has incorporated a variety of wild yeast strains accumulated over years of travel through Canada and Alaska, as well as the many months at home in Seattle.
Thinking of building your own sourdough starter? You'll like Donna's step-by-step instructions on Cookistry, a recap of her posts for SeriousEats.
Today the zest of one orange plus a handful (roughly 1/3 cup) of chopped pecans added a bright note to this already tasty batter. It was not overwhelmingly citrusy but that orangey flavor note was there, up front, registering with the taste buds without blocking the subtle tang of sourdough. These pancakes didn't need much syrup, butter or jam, but a nice dollop of compound butter would have been welcome. Hmmmm, I'm thinking some butter whipped with powdered sugar, orange zest and a touch of freshly chopped mint just might make these my favorite pancakes... at least this week. Or maybe served with a sweet and spicy fruit salsa topping... or...
Nutty Orange Sourdough Pancakes
2 cups Sourdough Starter (rough measure)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped pecansgrated zest of 1 orange
scant teaspoon baking soda
a generous tablespoon or two of warm water
pats of butter and warm maple syrup (optional)
1. Put the starter in mixing bowl; add sugar,salt and egg. Mix well with whisk or wooden spoon. (Various sources caution that sourdough doesn't like metal bowls and utensils, others refute this claim. I'm cautious and go with wood or plastic.) Stir in the pecans and orange zest. Thin with water as needed, depending on starter consistency.
2. Dilute the soda in a tablespoon or two of warm water. You will add the baking soda at the last minute, when you’re almost ready for the batter to hit the griddle. Fold the soda water gently into the sourdough batter. Do not beat it in heavily, you want to encourage the bubble formation, not defeat it. The batter will fill with bubbles and increase in bulk. It's ready when it is fluffier.
3. Preheat the non-stick griddle or pans. Ladle a 1.5 to 2-ounce portion of batter onto a preheated non-stick griddle and cook on side one until bubbles show, and wait until new ones stop forming. Turn and cook on the second side until done and golden brown, or to your taste. (For me that means crispy brown on the outside and soft in the middle.) If this first test pancake is too thick, adjust the batter consistency with a bit more water, but don't over do it. Repeat with the remaining batter, stirring the bowl occasionally to keep the batter well-mixed.
4. Serve immediately on a warmed plate and accompany with butter and warmed syrup or other toppings as desired. (Or hold in a low-heat oven, on a cake rack to keep from getting soggy, until all pancakes are cooked off.)
Serves approx 3-4
Crunchy brown sugar and cayenne-dusted bacon or a few rounds of Canadian bacon always make pancakes taste better.
Fruit salsa would be a delicious alternative to butter and syrup for a pancake topper.