And those are turkey sausages on the plate with the hotcakes. I handed this plate to Alex after I shot a bunch of "action shots" as I poured the syrup. 6 blueberry hotcakes (the blueberries are more visible on the undersides of the cakes) swimming in syrup. For the record, he ate 8 blueberry hotcakes and one sausage. Boy loves his flapjacks.
I used Ruth Allman's book, Alaska Sourdough, as a starting point and tweaked it a bit as I went along.
First of all, I set the starter yesterday – I added equal parts flour and water to the sourdough and gave it a good stir. This morning, it looked nice and bubbly and ready to go.
Here's my ingredient list:
3 cups of starter
3 T sugar
6 T vegetable oil
1 (scant) tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 T very warm water
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
In a large bowl, combine the starter, oil, sugar, salt, and eggs until you've got a nice, smooth batter.
Keep the baking soda and warm water handy.
Get your griddle going – you want it nice and hot before you pour any batter onto it, so the cakes don't stick. I use a reversable griddle/grill pan that fits over two burners. To make sure it's hot enough, I'll paint the griddle surface with some vegetable oil, give that a minute to warm up, and then flick some water onto the pan. If it sizzles right away, it's ready to go. You'll probably need to adjust the flame levels of your burners (if this is the method you're using, too) as you go; the pan might start to become too hot and darken your hotcakes more than you'd like.
Once the griddle is ready, combine the warm water and the baking soda and stir to combine. You won't completely dissolve the baking soda; that's fine. Pour the water/soda mixture into your bowl of batter and – with a rubber spatula – FOLD the water/soda mix into your batter. Right away you'll see the texture change from a regular ol' batter to something light and kind of frothy in appearance. It's pretty cool to watch, actually.
Ruth Allman has this to say about the addition of baking soda to the batter:
There are some modern cooks who say "Fold stiffly beaten egg whites into the Sourdough batter to make it light and fluffy."
Pioneer Alaskans did not have the luxury of fresh eggs….
Instead, the pioneer would just add a teaspoonful of good old "Arm and Hammer" baking soda to the batch of Sourdough Starter. As it is folded in, instantly a chemical action takes place. Remember the sour dough has acid qualities, and soda is a spontaneous neutralizer and sweetener.
As you fold the soda in, the batter starts to raise, filling the bowl with fluffy Sourdough. You can feel the change as you are spooning the batter over and over. There is a hollow tone developing; deeper and deeper as the Sourdough becomes filled with millions of tiny air bubbles.
Make certain everything is ready – the iron or griddle hot, so the Sourdough can be cooked while the air is still working in the batter. Results: You have "50% baked hot air" and light Sourdoughs that melt in your mouth.
Delay in hitting the iron until after the Sourdough stops raising and you will have a flat batter. Bake while air is in the Sourdough for buoyant delicious mouth-watering Sourdoughs!
I tried to capture this change taking place, but I don't know how well you can see what I'm talking about here. But think of how frothy egg whites become, and how the texture is when you've got soft peaks, and that's kind of what happens here. It goes from batter texture to soft peak texture – right before your very eyes!
But you don't have the luxury of time here, so don't just stand there gazing at the batter in fascination, even though it's tempting to do so. Start spooning or ladling the batter onto the griddle. Don't go anywhere, either – it cooks up pretty quickly.
Because of the different preferences of my offspring, I made both plain and blueberry hotcakes. I just sprinkle blueberries onto the raw side of the hotcakes and then flip them over when the cooked side is nicely browned.
If you've got options, the tiny wild blueberries would probably work best, as the sourdough hotcakes in this recipe are relatively thin. I used the larger berries because we have a huge bag of them in the freezer. They taste great, no matter which size berries you use, but the thinner ones line up better with the surface of the hotcakes.
You could also fold the blueberries into the batter – it's up to you.
I kept the hotcakes on a plate in the warming drawer of my oven until they were all cooked, and then I served them with turkey sausage links, and, of course, butter and maple syrup.
This recipe made about 36 or so 4" hotcakes.
The flavor of a sourdough hotcake (or pancake) is unique – kind of tangy and sweet and addictive, at least in my case. If you've never had them before, go on and make some. What are you waiting for?
And hey, even if you don't like them (which I can't imagine, but I suppose it happens), you will have performed a fun little science project with your addition of baking soda to the sour dough, and you can give yourself a little high-five for that.