Alyson Thoner's family pancake recipe is more than just breakfast: It's a time-and-space capsule that instantly transports her back to her childhood home out West. The starter she uses is descended from one created by her grandfather, and it lives in the refrigerators of family members across the country.
These pancakes can be put to both sweet and savory use; see the variations at the end of the recipe. Thoner's family never tops these with the traditional maple syrup and butter, but we think it's fine to do so.
Make Ahead: The sourdough starter must be combined with the flour and water from the recipe and allowed to sit in a warm spot for 12 to 24 hours.
Yield: Makes 4-inch pancakes
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup warm water, plus more to mix with the baking soda
- 1/4 cup Easy Sourdough Starter (see related recipe)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Unsalted butter (optional, for sweet pancakes; see VARIATIONS)
- 1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture (optional, for sweet pancakes; see VARIATIONS)
- Sharp cheddar cheese (optional, for savory pancakes; see VARIATIONS)
The night before you plan to serve the pancakes, combine the flour and warm water in a medium nonreactive bowl, then add the sourdough starter and combine. Cover the bowl with a plate and let it sit in a warm spot (70 to 80 degrees) for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. (The longer the mixture rests, the stronger the sourdough flavor will be.)
When ready to make the pancakes, combine the oil, sugar, egg and salt in a small bowl and add to the flour-water mixture; stir to combine.
Combine the baking soda with a few drops of warm water in a small bowl to form a thin paste; add to the batter and stir briefly to combine (this will avoid creating lumps of baking soda).
Lightly grease a griddle or large skillet with nonstick cooking oil spray. Heat over medium to medium-high heat until a drop of water dripped onto the griddle sizzles and skips across the surface. Pour the batter onto the hot surface in 2-tablespoon portions; this will make 4-inch pancakes. Cook for a minute or two, until bubbles have formed on top of the pancakes and have popped, creating holes, and the edges have become dry. Turn the pancakes over and cook until lightly browned on the second side, from 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Serve hot.
For cinnamon-and-sugar pancakes: Remove the cooked pancakes from the griddle, spread or brush on unsalted butter, and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Roll up the pancakes and eat them by hand.
For cheese pancakes: Place a thin slice of cheddar cheese on each just-finished pancake while it is still on the griddle, then fold the pancake over the melted cheese.
Adapted from a Thoner family recipe.
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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