I decided to “retire” my sourdough starter. In a few weeks it will be much too hot to run the oven for frequent baking. Sourdough takes a fair bit of work to maintain, and sometimes I forget. Today there are two large, parchment-lined baking sheets smeared with sourdough starter on the dining room table. The idea is to completely dry the starter so that it can be broken into shards and stored in an airtight container. According to my expert sources, this dried sourdough can be reconstituted and used successfully after months, or even years of inactivity. I guess we’ll see. In the meantime, I set aside a small amount of the starter and made this big, beautiful, breakfast pancake. The operative word here is “cake”. Although it’s made with pancake batter, this is a little reminiscent of upside down cake. Fresh fruit is scattered over the bottom of a hot, well buttered cast iron skillet, and the pancake batter is poured over the top. After a stint in a hot oven, the pancake is inverted onto a serving plate, and voila! What you get is a lofty, fluffy, slightly tangy pancake, topped with sweet fruit. I made a little fresh strawberry syrup, because it seemed the logical thing to serve with a fruit pancake. It adds an additional touch of sweetness, but not too much.
Start the batter the night before, to give the sourdough time to activate. If you don’t already have a sourdough starter you can find a recipe here. Or, you could just purchase a starter from the baking experts at King Arthur Flour (that’s what I did). Use whatever fruit is available and in season. I chose strawberries and peaches (which I had in the freezer for smoothie-making). I added a little buckwheat flour to the batter, and sweetened it, and the strawberry syrup, with honey. A little vanilla complimented the peach-strawberry combo as well.
Serve the pancake family style, from a 8 or 9-inch skillet, or make individual pancakes in smaller pans. All of the “sweets for breakfast” folks will thank you.
Skillet Sourdough Pancake with Fresh Fruit and Strawberry Syrup
- For the pancake:
- 1/2 cup sourdough starter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Peach slices (frozen, thawed are fine) and strawberries, also sliced
- For the Strawberry Syrup
- 1 cup diced , fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Granulated sugar , to sprinkle over the fruit before baking (optional)
The night before you plan to bake the pancake, mix the sourdough starter with the flours and milk in a large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let sit at room temperature overnight. When you're ready to prepare the pancake, give the mixture a stir and scoop out a scant 1/2 cup. Save this in a glass jar for another batch of pancakes.
Whisk the egg, egg white, baking soda, salt, honey, and vanilla paste into the rest of the sourdough batter. It will be thick, but airy and not too stiff. Add a little more milk, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 450°F., with a cast iron skillet inside the oven. (Use a 4-inch skillet for individual pancakes, or an 8-inch pan for a family style pancake). When the pan is hot, carefully remove it, and swirl in the butter until melted. Add enough fruit slices to just cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer. Sprinkle on a little granulated sugar, if you like. Gently add the batter, which will cover the fruit completely.
Return the pan to the oven, reduce the heat to 425°F, and bake until the top of the pancake is evenly browned and the edges are crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Loosen the edges of the pancake, and invert it on to a serving plate, fruit-side up. Serve hot, with the strawberry syrup.
To make the strawberry syrup: In a small saucepan, bring the strawberries, honey, and water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Add this slurry to the strawberry mixture, and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened. Add the vanilla paste. Cool slightly, then puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. At this point you can add a drop or two of red food coloring, if you like. Serve with the pancake. Any leftover syrup can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for several days.