Breakfast 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.
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.
Flour, water and patience
- 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.
- 1 egg (optional)
- 1 ripe banana mashed (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- coconut oil for frying
- 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.
With love xx