Last Thursday evening, I was given a very precious, precious gift. An Adam's peanut butter jar filled with a sourdough starter that Rich, one of my fellow choir members, has had going for the past 20 years. Twenty years! It felt so covert, he secretly passed me the jar after practice and I gasped in glee, knowing what it was. He was trusting me with what he calls his "pets" (and sometimes he even calls them his "babies") I knew that if he was giving me a sample of his pets, I must be a responsible baker in his esteem.
Along with the pets, came feeding instructions and a few recipes. I decided to follow his recipe for sourdough pancakes (which turned out great by the way) which I needed to start Friday night. I mixed up the required amount of starter and flour and liquid and set it aside, then I continued reading the directions, "Now is the time to feed the starter." I had just bought potato flour (the preferred meal of the pets) that day from the health food store, so I was ready. I put in 3 Tbls. of potato flour, 3/4 c. sugar and filled the rest of the jar up with water as the recipe stated. Then I started shaking it up. "Huh," says my faint mental alarm, "Why is it a different color? And why is it so thick?" I was thinking, as before I fed the starter it was white and very thin. I then re-read the ingredients, mashed potato flakes, sugar, water. "Mashed potato flakes? Uh-oh, did I kill the pets? Will I never be considered a trusted baker again?" I followed the rest of the recipe deciding to see what the pets would do before I confessed to the mistake. The last instruction in the recipe said to crack the lid on the jar to let the pets breathe overnight. Fortunately, I read that direction.
In the morning, I found that the pets had loved the new food so much, they were overflowing the jar and running down the counter. (You can see the pets above, my wild yeast rye levain is watching with contempt from the jar in the background) I took the overflowing contents, put them in a quart sized Mason jar, added some more water and again let them sit a bit. They flooded out of that container too. After another 8 hours or so (and spooning bit by bit out) I felt they were finally settled down enough for me to put them in the refrigerator.
The next morning, I saw Rich at church. He looked at me expectantly. "I made sourdough pancakes on Saturday." "Oh yeah, how were they? Were they light and fluffy?" "Yes, but I mis-read the recipe when I was feeding them (the concern and panic immediately showed on his face and I could tell he thought the news that I had killed his pets was coming) and fed them potato flour instead of mashed potato flakes. They bubbled out of the container and all over my counter." "REALLY?" he exclaimed, barely containing his glee, "They REALLY liked it!" He was practically giggling!
Rich is so excited. His pets have found a home that they like, and my trustworthy baker title is saved. I'm sending this one over to Susan at WildYeast for her Yeastspotting event.
Sourdough pancakes adapted by Joie de vivre from Rich B's recipe
The night before making the pancakes, prepare the following mixture for the "sponge" in a large bowl. Cover with Saran Wrap and leave on counter overnight.
2.5 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. thick potato flour sourdough starter
2 1/2 c. warm water (95 degrees F)
In the morning, add to the "sponge":
1/4 c. dried milk powder
2 Tbls. vegetable oil.
Stir well. In a small bowl, mix together:
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbls. baking powder
1 Tbls. sugar
Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and gently fold into the batter. Let the batter rest while you heat your griddle to Medium-high. Scoop batter onto the griddle using a 1/3 c. measuring cup. Cook on one side until bubbles burst and edges start to dry, flip over and cook until browned. Makes about 24 6-inch pancakes.