During the pandemic, sourdough has become all the rage. People are home more; they are cooking more often, and social media has made sourdough the superstar of the baking world right now. So much so that people give their sourdough starters names as if they are new pets in the family. I have had a sourdough starter going since 2018 and have managed to keep it alive. I have had moments where I thought it died but somehow, I have always been able to revive it. I love to use it in bread, waffles and pancakes. I’ve just discovered a new recipe that uses the “discard” or excess…but I will get to that in a moment.
Sourdough is a culinary staple dating back thousands of years. It is inexpensive to make, absolutely delicious, and provides so many wonderful health benefits. Basically, it’s flour and water. That’s it. Sourdough starter is used in a traditional type of artisan bread leavened without the use of commercial yeast. Instead, the dough goes through a slow fermentation process and rises from wild yeast. Fermentation is a naturally occurring process where “friendly” bacteria break down the sugars in food to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid gives sourdough it’s characteristic sour tang and ability to stay fresh longer.
Sourdough offers improved digestion for many who have difficulty processing regular foods that contain gluten. Sourdough stays fresh much longer than other baked goods and contains zero added preservatives. The enzymes produced friendly bacteria act as natural preservatives to prevent the growth of icky molds and fungus. Sourdough is better for blood sugar control and diabetic meal plans because the carbohydrates are broken down during the slow fermentation. This means less blood sugar spikes and dips. Nutrients are much more readily available for our bodies to absorb in sourdough than white or whole wheat breads. Sourdough is also a prebiotic which helps to develop and maintain the healthy bacteria within the intestines which provide protection against illness and infection.
Regular wheat and flour contain high levels of phytic acid. Although phytic acid is a protective mechanism for grains, it is problematic for humans. Phytic acid is classified as an anti-nutrient. It blocks the absorption of calcium, iron, and zinc promoting mineral deficiencies. Bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, and that gross “heavy” stomach feeling experienced after eating regular gluten products such as bread and pasta are common complaints. The ancient tradition of soaking grains and culturing wild yeast was a natural way to combat the known negative effects wheat had on humans. During the fermentation process, the gluten is pre-digested. Because lactic acid (produced by friendly bacterial colonies) breaks down the gluten, sourdough has the benefit improved digestibility for many people who suffer from generalized gluten intolerance.
Recently I stumbled across this recipe for sourdough crepes that is easy and great for a special weekend breakfast. I filled half the crepes with a mix of ham and cheese and the other half with a fresh raspberry coulis. Each person received both a sweet and savory crepe. I found this recipe to be delicious and quick (you don’t have to let the batter rest.) If you don’t have a sourdough starter then consider getting on the bandwagon! You will have to start one and wait for it to develop before using this recipe. I hate throwing out my excess starter and have found that this is the perfect solution to using up the discard. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and know that you are nourishing your body in a wonderful way.
Makes 4–6 crêpes, depending on the size of your pan (Use a 10-13” cast iron pan)
· If you want even thinner crêpes that roll up super easily for blintz-type applications, add another egg.
· A few drops of vanilla or other extract depending on how you intend to deploy the crêpes. Whether sweet or savory, adding powdered spices to the batter is an excellent way to harmonize with the flavors of your filling.
· If you like sweet crêpes, feel free to add some sweetener to the batter. I like mine unsweetened, even if the filling ends up being sweet, because I like the contrast between sweet and sour.
· You may want to adjust the volume of batter depending on the size of your pan. (It’ll be closer to 1/4 cup if your pan is a more standard 12 inches in diameter.)
· Before cooking the first crêpe, I quickly rub the end of a cold stick of butter around the bottom of the pan. You do not need to add any more fat after that; each crêpe should weep enough butter to lubricate itself as you go. If the bottom of your pan is too oily, the batter won’t flow out to the edges of the pan and get nice and thin.
· Don’t be tempted to flip the crêpes early, they are a little fragile until they have started to color on the underside.
1-1/2 cups (425g) 100% sourdough starter (discard/excess)
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon (2.5g) sea salt
4 tablespoons (57g) butter, melted
1. Whisk the eggs and salt into the starter until thoroughly combined, beating air in for some nice frothy bubbles. Whisk in butter. (There is no need to let the batter rest at this point since the gluten in your starter is already fully developed.)
2. Heat a carbon-steel or nonstick skillet, or iron crêpe pan over low heat for at least 10 minutes.
3. Increase heat to medium and heat pan for 1 minute. Add a small amount of butter or oil to the pan and then wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Pour a ladle of batter into the middle of the pan and then tilt the pan to steer the batter into an even layer all the way around. When the top surface is no longer shiny and the edges are beginning to brown, after about a minute, flip the crêpe and let it cook for another minute or so. Transfer crêpe to a platter and repeat with remaining batter.
4. After you’ve made your stack of crêpes, return them to the pan one by one (if you want them hot) and fill, fold, and top them however you like. I prefer to cover half the crêpe with filling, then folding over the other half and pressing down gently, then folding the half circle in half again to get a nicely layered quarter-circle result.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.