Since starting a whole wheat sourdough culture last fall, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use sourdough in the kitchen. Lately I got to thinking about using it to make pancakes and waffles, especially during our recent trip to Hawaii. On a trip to Kauai in 2008 we had some great macadamia nut banana pancakes at the Hula Girl Bar and Grill. Unfortunately we didn’t visit that island on this trip. But I figured we could make them even better at home, especially with the additional flavor boost from the sourdough.
A quick online search for recipes found a lot to choose from. One recipe from Dog Island Farm sounded especially interesting. I had all the necessary ingredients, including a proven sourdough culture. I was ready to experiment!
I was initially a little concerned about how 100% whole wheat pancakes would turn out. Would they taste like sawdust? Could they substitute for hockey pucks? But my fears were unfounded. These pancakes are amazingly light, and have a wonderful rich, full flavor. I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit to suit our tastes and my sourdough culture, but not a lot.
Like many sourdough recipes, you do need to plan ahead. About 8-12 hours before you want to have the pancakes, you make a sponge with water, flour and some mature sourdough starter. So if you’re having pancakes for breakfast, this means making the sponge the night before.
I usually use an electric skillet to cook our pancakes. I like it because it maintains an even temperature, so I can concentrate on other things – like spreading the batter and flipping the pancakes. A well seasoned cast iron skillet or griddle would work as well.
For the batch in the below photo I added a few chopped macadamia nuts to the batter before cooking, and used a mix of half butter and half coconut oil. Berries and other nuts can be added too. We added some sliced bananas on the side and additional mac nuts on the top to make a breakfast that rivaled the one we had on Kauai – though we had to use our imaginations for the tropical breezes!
The batter can also be used to make waffles. My wife decided to try some in her pizzelle maker, and guess what? It makes great pizzelle too!
Though I used a 100% whole wheat sourdough starter for this recipe, other sourdough cultures will work. If the batter is too thick after adding the egg and butter, it can be thinned with additional water or milk.