Dads and Pancakes

My Dad coulda used one of these.

Last night on Twitter, one of the funniest stories I’ve read in a long while reminded me of my late father:

(And you really must click-through the links to the cricket story, it’s brilliant.)

And so I spent last night dreaming about my goofy Dad. Being a Saturday morning, and thinking of my Dad, pancakes come to mind. One of the strongest memories I have of him is him standing in the kitchen, unshaven and unkempt, in his PJs and wool bathrobe with one of Mom’s frilly aprons on, flipping pancakes for all of us hungry heathens, fiends who had taken human form. He was a master of his craft, and I wish I had his recipe.

Some of the best advice Dad ever gave me before leaving for college was to always make pancake batter the night before, “especially if you are going to a party.” It seems he knew something about dealing with a hangover AND how to make friends. Any fool with a hangover can flip a pancake, and you look as heroic A.F. doing it when everyone knows you are dying because they are dying, too/also.

Anyway, here’s a pancake recipe that’s pretty great. I like it because it uses a sourdough starter and as a man with a starter, I’m keen on things that use it up.

  1. The night before make a sponge and put it in the fridge:
    • 2 cups unbleached AP Flour
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 cups buttermilk
    • 1 cup sourdough starter, unfed/discard
  2. The next morning, to the sponge add:
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. Start making pancakes and be a hero.

Adding fruit: I think it makes the pancakes soggy. Have the fruit on the side, if you must. If your tribe of screaming fiends insist on blueberries when they are out of season, you can add dried blueberries to the mix, and they add a concentrated pop of flavor. You might not ever add fresh fruit again.

Pro tip: Always use real maple syrup. One of the best bargains at Trader Joe’s is the dark, Canadian maple syrup. For reasons I do not understand, the better quality syrup used be labeled as “B” (and “A” was lesser quality. Go figure) — look for best quality dark. It’s more expensive, but it is worth it.

(It also makes an OUTSTANDING base for an Old Fashioned; use applejack and go full Canadian, so I guess that’s another pro tip! Remember the hangover part of the story? yeah.)

 

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18 Responses to Dads and Pancakes

  1. Condi says:

    The sourdough starter in lieu of baking powder is genius!
    For a fluffier batch, try using a hair less buttermilk – 1 &3/4 cups, perhaps.
    My personal choice: Oil for waffles (crisps better), butter for pancakes.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 9thousandfeet says:

    Another sourdough keeper here. I just knew there was something redeeming about you, TG!!

    I don’t like pancakes much though, or waffles, and all syrups, even top-o-the-line maple syrups, are way too cloyingly sweet for my taste.
    Ditto other American staples like cinnamon rolls and doughnuts, though I occasionally make them for Other People. Using starter of course.
    Being raised as a tot during sugar rationing in post WW2 Britain, I guess I never did develop a sweet tooth.

    (btw, for anyone like me, who almost never has buttermilk on hand, but usually does have sour cream. That, mixed 50/50 with water, is a perfect substitute.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • tengrain says:

      I don’t have much of a sweet tooth either, so my baking tends to be for others as well. I like a good pastry in the morning, but that’s about it for me.

      Rgds,

      TG

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      • 9thousandfeet says:

        Speaking of good pastries, while foraging close to your neighborhood this past spring I found a splendid source.
        Sabateur (sp?) Bakery just across the water from you, over in Bremerton, gets my highest recommendation.
        They sell out fast, so it’s the early bird that catches the croissant with those guys!

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  3. Marlboro Mark says:

    Must be Vermont maple syrup. Thanks for a great story.

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  4. Dennis Cole says:

    And this year, TJ’s had a special sample-pack of 4 different maple slurps, which made for excellent low-cost Xmas gifts, especially for those who hang a XXL stocking from the mantle.

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  5. Jim says:

    Well, that’s a great recipe and one that I use too except for the sourdough starter, which I will now incorporate. But you should explain why the night before for the dry ingredients: because it takes time for the flour to fully absorb the liquid (and there’s nothing worse than a bunch of flour that didn’t get hydrated). Of course, a half hour to an hour will also do the trick. The buttermilk aspect is because it has a slightly higher pH than other acidic components but also has a nice rich flavor (without actually being fattening). For those that don’t want to keep actual buttermilk in the fridge for only occasional use, buttermilk powder (mix up only when you need it) works just as well.

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  6. suedoise2 says:

    I read somewhere yrs ago that the Grade A/Grade B puzzlement (with the really good dark stuff being the latter) is a ploy by wily Vermonters to keep most of the dark syrup for themselves, while the gullible tourists take the Grade A satified that it’s the top of the line. Makes sense to me.

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  7. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    That was a batty thing for your dad to do.

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    • tengrain says:

      He was full of hair-brained nutty goodness. Over the years, I’ve been doling out his stories like the emeralds that they are. Many more to come.

      Rgds,

      TG

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  8. A “starter”? What is a starter and why is it listed last?…. and this “sponge”? What does a sponge have to do with batter unless to sop it up?
    I agree about NOT mixing in froots -not only soggy but also who wants a sizzling hot sliver of flavorless gelatinous goo searing the tongue at 7am?! (my Dad used canned froot cocktail & bloated raisins in his pancakes).

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    • tengrain says:

      Hi Claude –

      Sourdough starter is a culture of living wild yeasts and other organisms; when you use sourdough in baking, essentially you are fermenting a dough (the yeast eat the carbs in the flour, digest it and they produce gas which leavens the end product). It’s very similar to how beer is made.

      A sponge is a baking term. A sponge is a kind of pre-ferment, you essentially are giving the sourdough a food source before you do the final baking, so the yeast (and other organisms) are busy eating and producing lots of gas.

      This recipe assumes you already have a sourdough culture.

      I hope that helps!

      Rgds,

      TG

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Karla says:

    My grandfather turned me on to frozen fresh blueberries in pancakes. They the at about the same time the pancakes are done.
    I’d love to get your sourdough starter recipe – how to start a starter.
    I lost mine in the divorce.

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    • Karla says:

      *thaw

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    • tengrain says:

      Karla –

      Getting rid of the spouse is one thing, but getting rid of a starter?…

      Anyway, pretty much all the starter instructions are about the same, wait for the wild yeast to settle into your batter (50% water, 50% flour). You can wash any fruit that has bloom on it and use that water to speed things up. At the SF Baking Institute, they use organic Rye flour to start a culture (it has abundant wild yeast), but then during all the feedings switch over to regular organic flour.

      My sister Ninegrain gave me Jim Lahey’s book, The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook. He has a concise version of starting a sourdough, but more importantly he has the best trick I’ve ever heard of for keeping the culture going. The thing that I hated with my original culture was the waste when you were feeding it and throwing out about half a few times a week. His method really ends up that you almost never have any waste. And I bake probably once every couple of weeks, unless I’m travelling. It’s changed the game for me.

      Check it out of the library and see if you like it before you plunk down your hard earned Ameros.

      Rgds,

      TG

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    • 9thousandfeet says:

      – how to start a starter

      Try this relatively painless and very non-fussy strategy. Just a couple of minutes a day for a little more than a week and you’ll be off and running.
      https://www.9thousandfeet.com/blog/2011/07/sourdough-starter-oh-yeah/

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