What I Ask From a Sourdough Recipe

By , February 6, 2013

As I mentioned in a previous post, we’ve been doing a lot with our sourdough lately. As a result, I’ve been spending more time with our three primary sourdough cookbooks. In this case, familiarity breeds criticism.

In my mind, a proper sourdough recipe should incorporate sourdough as an essential ingredient—it should provide a necessary characteristic of the dish, rather than simply getting tacked on as one more ingredient in a list. In other words, a sourdough biscuit recipe must not be a standard biscuit recipe with a 1/2 cup of sourdough thrown in. Sourdough is not raisins or chocolate chips—adding a bit of it to a recipe should not justify identifying the recipe by it.

My best example of this is provided by a comparison of waffle recipes.

The obvious result of our successful return to waffle making had to be finding a proper sourdough recipe as soon as possible. In their waffle recipes, two of our cookbooks specified separating egg whites from yokes, whipping the yolks, and adding them to a batter. The third, which was handed down through my family, and understood to be our primary sourdough authority, pointed out that using sourdough makes this process unnecessary!

I also ask that a recipe be at least partially true to the pioneer spirit of sourdough, by incorporating basic ingredients, or at least avoiding convenience additives. They should be “scratch” recipes, relying on basic household supplies. All three of our sourdough cookbooks are highly autobiographical, aggressively folksy, and full of pioneer spirit talk. Yet, the waffle recipe one of these offers as their “best” incorporates a measure of commercially prepared pancake and waffle mix! Oh yeah, Grandpa, tell us about the way things used to be!

Perhaps I shouldn’t be such a snob, but when one has such as significant culinary tool as sourdough starter in one’s kitchen, it only makes sense to maximize its usefulness. It only seems appropriate to use it to its full potential.

Which is why I have not included that sourdough waffle recipe here. We need to perfect it a bit before sharing it with you.

It appears I’m going to be talking a lot about sourdough for the next couple weeks as we approach our starter’s 21st anniversary.

Look here for the history of our family’s sourdough starter, and a recipe for starting your own.

3 Responses to “What I Ask From a Sourdough Recipe”

  1. Brian says:

    My family loves sourdough pancakes and waffles. I use the same recipe for both. I like to start the process the evening before.

    In a glass bowl combine cup or two of sourdough, enough flour and water to make a batter. Add a tablespoon or so of sugar and a dash or three of salt.

    In the morning mix a tablespoon or so of baking soda with enough water to dissolve it. Add to the batter and stir until the batter sounds hollow and has bubbles forming from the reaction of the baking soda with the natural acids of the sourdough. Make pancakes or waffles as normal. I like to use my old Griswold waffle maker on a wood stove.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Brian, this sounds great. It’s close to ours, with a few minor differences. Specifically, do you find you can make waffles without adding oil to the batter? Do you oil your waffle iron directly, and if so, how much?

    If I find a difference between a source’s waffle and pancake recipe, it seems to be that the waffles include more oil, which make sense, as it’s vital that they come out of the iron consistently.

  3. Brian says:

    I oil the waffle iron between each waffle. I should try adding oil to the batter!

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