Breakfast is served – Sourdough Pancakes

11986370_10207644305602682_8532946972547432128_nBreakfast can be a time of great nutritional misinformation and in fact because it’s often so time pressured we do tend to go back to old, tried and true staples.  Breakfast need not be a headache, with a little bit of planning, food can be easily made in 10-20 min.  I’ve got the luxury of not having to rush out of the house, so I can make my family a healthy breakfast most mornings.  However, even if you do indeed have to join the commuter rush, there is always time for fruit, porridge or a piece of sourdough toast with almond butter.

In our household there are some firm breakfast staples and mostly I’ve banned any kind of boxed cereal.  Although when my husband needs to rush to work he will eat flakes and my kids consider corn flakes a treat. We like poached eggs on sourdough bread, kefir smoothies, eggs and soldiers, omelette and the well liked sourdough pancake.  With the last of the berries ripening now, you could forage for some blackberries and serve them on these delicious pancakes for a special Sunday morning breakfast.  Mind you sometimes my kids eat these for an easy dinner combined with a simple soup.

Sometimes I make these pancakes savoury and grate some courgettes or other vegetables in or leave them plain and serve them to dip into a stew.  The batter is incredibly versatile, very light and easy to prepare.  Once you’ve got your sourdough starter you are set.

bubbling sourdough - simplyirina

Bubbling Sourdough Starter

The reason why I favour my grains fermented, is because the fermentation process pre-digests the grain.  This means that the lactobacilli gobble up carbohydrates in the flour and turn them into nutrients we can assimilate more readily in our bodies.  Enzymes in the grain are activated in this acidified environment and break down anti nutrients like phytates. As a result the dough contains more B vitamins, folate and lactic acid (which makes the dough sour). Non fermented grains, made using yeast,  are not particularly good for our digestive system and have potentially lead to many digestive diseases we hear of today. A fermented grain is basically been left in an acidified, warm moist environment for 8-24 hours.  The longer you leave it,  the more sour it will get, and the more nutritious too.  I like to ferment my grains between 8-12 hours in most cases, making the taste only slightly acidic.

Although sourdough is often referred to as gourmet or novelty food, I like to remind people, that until 130 years ago all flour products were made this way: water, flour, leaven and time.  A leaven or sourdough starter is simply a slurry of water and flour which has been left out in the warmth to naturally ferment.  A starter can be maintained for a life time and can be passed on for generations.  Fear not, in the likely event that you kill your starter, a new one can be made just as easily.

Sourdough Starter

Ingredients

Flour, water and patience

Method

  • In a 500 ml jar mix half a cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to make a fairly runny slurry. If the batter is too thick or thickens up over the course of a day, just add some more water .  Its important to use filtered water and I favour organic rye flour, although any flour will do.
  • Leave in a warm place with the lid off, covering the jar with a paper towel or muslin cloth to keep flies out.
  • Keep stirring the batter several times a day and look out for natural bubbles developing
  • After 2-3 days add 2 tablespoons of flour and some more water, keep stirring.
  • Once the batter is bubbling vigorously (after 3-7 days), add another 1/2 cup of flour and water. Leave the starter out for 3-4 hours and then use it or keep it in the fridge with the lid on until your ready to use it.
  • Everytime you use some starter, simply replace the amount you have used (so if its 1/2 cup of starter then add 1/2 cup of flour and enough water to make a slurry) and leave the jar to ferment some time in the warmth, after that it can go back in the fridge until you need to use it again.

Sourdough Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups flour ( I love spelt or kamut flour)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sourdough starter

 

  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 ripe banana mashed (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • coconut oil for frying

Method

  • Mix the flour, water and sourdough starter thoroughly in a bowl and leave for 8-12 hours, preferably in a warm spot with a lid on the bowl. If you don’t have a lidded bowl simply drape a tea towel over it. I usually leave it over night to make pancakes for breakfast.
  • Once its been left to ferment you then add the egg, banana and baking soda just before cooking.  The baking soda will neutralise the acidity in the dough and make it nice and fluffy.  Make sure that both the egg and banana are well mixed into the dough.
  • Use coconut oil for frying (butter and ghee are good too) and cook small amounts of batter in batches.  I use a cast iron skillet and am quite generous with my coconut oil.

I make small pancakes, roughly the size of the palm of my hand, and you should get roughly 18 pancakes from this amount of flour.  If you want to make this vegan, just omit the egg and it will still taste very nice. Serve with any topping you like, fresh fruit, yoghurt and coconut syrup is our favourite way.

sourdough pancakes and fruit

sourdough pancakes and fruit

 

With love xx

Old remedies for a new world-making ginger beer

11709451_10207091021810933_654293667855352233_nI’m kind of obsessed with all things fermented but at the moment the runaway winner for sure is any kind of fizzy drink I can get my hands on. Especially now that the weather is finally getting hot, and believe me this is an exciting thing as London’s weather isn’t exactly tropical. Sour tonics or traditionally fermented drinks are simply tasty beverages, slightly sweet, slightly sour. Sometimes lightly alcoholic (depending on how long you brew them for) and always teeming with healthful lactic acid bacteria, enzymes and mineral ions.

 Homemade fizzy drinks, or soft drinks as they are also known, bear little resemblance to their commercial equivalents. The latter are mostly laden with glucose or corn syrups, additives, colourings and lack any of the health giving properties a home-brew brings.

In a long continuous tradition, by Peoples all around the world, these beverages have always been produced and we are now seeing a revival of traditional techniques.  All beverages require a starter culture of some sort ( bacteria or yeast based, or mostly both) and a carbohydrate for the culture to feed on.  The carbohydrate can be as simple as sugar-water flavoured with herbs or any kind of juice.  The taste combinations are endless. Once the culture has weaved its magic, you will end up with a delicious bubbly beverage.

There are many different kinds of starter cultures and the culture required for this drink can be easily made in your kitchen.  Its called a ginger bug (see picture above).

GINGER BUG

INGREDIENTS

  • ground or fresh ginger root
  • unrefined cane sugar
  • filtered water
  • old 500ml jam jar or snaplock jar

METHOD

  • Pour 1.5 cups of water into the jam jar, then add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of ground or fresh ginger. Close the jar and shake to mix
  • Everyday (for 5-7 days) add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of ginger and leave the jar in a warm space, with the lid off
  • After 5 days check to see if the bug is bubbling, if not continue for two more days.  If after 7 days its still not bubbling you have two options: 1. throw it all away and start again or 2. purchase a ginger bug from the internet  (Happy Kombucha is a very good site)

The ginger bug will keep indefinitely in the fridge.  In fact I like to think of it as another member of the family who requires a bit of love and attention. Feed it once a week with 2 teaspoons of sugar and ginger, keep it out for an hour and then pop it back in the fridge.  If your using the culture to make a drink, simply replace what you have used and then store it back in the fridge.

 

GINGER BEER – FOR BIG AND SMALL 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 litres filtered water
  • 1.5 cups sugar (rapadura or unrefined cane sugar)
  • 5-15 cm of fresh ginger root, peeled
  • juice of 2 lemons

METHOD

  • Make a sugar syrup with 2 litres of water, 1.5 cups of sugar and the grated fresh ginger (5cm will give a mild flavour , 15 cm a strong flavour).
  • Boil it up for 5 min until the sugar has dissolved, then leave it to cool down.
  • Add the juice of two lemons and enough water to make up 4 Litres in total.
  • Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or a wire mesh sieve to remove the ginger.
  • Add a 1/4 cup of strained culture to the mixture and stir.
  • Bottle in sealable bottles, like old flip top beer bottles or old juice glass bottles.  I like using Kilner home-brew flip top bottles as they give a really good seal.
  • `Leave the beverage to ferment in a warm space for 2-3 days, opening the lid everyday to let out the built up carbon dioxide (which creates the natural bubbles in the beverage).  Once it tastes to your liking put it into the fridge for 1-2 days to set the bubbles.  It will continue to ferment in the fridge, but much more slowly. When you open ginger beer do so over the sink and very slowly as carbonation can be very strong.

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With Love x