Pancakes sans Baking Powder

So, if you’re anything like me, you may have a couple of children wandering along with you at the grocery, complaining about how looooong it takes to buy the food required to feed a small army.  AND these distractions are a big reason you forget important little items.

Aw.  Who am i kidding?  If it’s not on the list it might as well not exist (and sometimes even when it IS on the list).

So, when I ran out of baking powder after making our last batch of pancakes I thought to myself, “Don’t forget to add baking powder to your grocery list!”

Then I promptly forgot.

Until this morning, when I opened the cupboard while the soundtrack of starving children moaned on and on in the other room, and I suddenly remembered I would not be finding any baking powder there.

But I did not throw in the towel.  I knew there must be a substitute for baking powder.  I considered adding another egg, but figured that would make the pancakes too dense & tough.  So to my trusty laptop I raced!

A quick search revealed that I could create a suitable leavening agent by combining approximately 1 part baking SODA to 2 parts cream of tartar.  What are the odds I would have cream of tartar, which I only use to make an occasional meringue, when I didn’t  have baking soda, which I use about once a week?

Back to the cupboard where low & behold…  A nice full jar of cream of tartar!

Now, I was a bit skeptical, but the resulting pancakes were so marvelously airy & just plain yummy, that I knew I could never go back to using baking soda.  I may even start substituting the baking soda/tartar combo in my cookie recipes!

I added chocolate chips once I'd gotten each pancake on the griddle.  The kids are no longer starving!

I added chocolate chips once I’d gotten each pancake on the griddle. The kids are no longer starving!

If you are interested in making your own Baking Powderless Pancakes, here’s my recipe:

2 1/2 c.    Milk
6 T.          Unsalted Butter
2              Eggs
3 c.          Flour
2 T.          Sugar
4 t.          Cream of Tartar
2 1/2 t.    Baking Soda
1 t.           Salt
Cooking oil for your pan.

I heat the milk & butter just enough to melt the butter, and beat the eggs into the liquid mixture (temper the eggs if you got the milk & butter too hot).  Combine dry ingredients and whisk in the liquids just enough to blend.

Oil your griddle and heat to ~375.  Add batter by 1/4 c. fulls to your hot pan and flip when the bubbles begin to stay open in the middle and the edges start to lose their wet shine.

Add blueberries or chocolate chips if you like!

Using a quarter cup measure to dip out the batter should make about 36 palm sized pancakes.

Enjoy!

Sourdough Starters from Scratch

Sourdough starter experiment progress.  Days 4 and 5

(clockwise from top) Whole Wheat starter, Bleached All Purpose starter, Unbleached All Purpose starter.

Today is day 5 for my starter (bleached, all-purpose wheat flour) and day 4 for my son and daughter’s starters (whole wheat & unbleached wheat flour respectively).

I kept reading recipes that said to only use unbleached flour or combinations of unbleached & rye or whole wheat flours.  But when I began my quest to learn to create my own starter with just flour & water, I only had bleached all-purpose flour.  So I went for it.

My starter is on day five.  It has gone from a stretchy batter (slightly thicker than pancake batter) to a thinner frothy batter consistency.  The smell has improved dramatically.  I noticed yesterday the distinct & pleasant “sourdough” odor – compared to the first 3 days, when I could only describe it as a sour “bad bell peppers” smell.  Here’s a photo of my starter.  We call it Bob.

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“Bob” bleached all purpose wheat flour starter, day 5.

My son chose whole wheat flour to base his starter on.  It is a little harder to get a good consistency with this one.  We have to add a bit more water to get it to that batter consistency & then it separates pretty rapidly.  It was bubbling very aggressively in the first 2 days.  But that has really died back, the bubbles are now small, but constant.  The smell – to me is unpleasant.  My first thought, when I open the container & before stirring, it that it smells a bit like vomit.  But we’re not giving up yet…  Mine smelled pretty bad to start with, too.  Here’s a close up of the tiny bubbles in his whole wheat starter & then a photo of the rapid separation:

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My son’s, as yet unnamed, whole wheat sourdough starter. Day 4.

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Whole wheat starter separation, less than an hour after stirring.

My daughter is using unbleached all purpose flour for her starter.  To me, hers has smelled better than both the others from the very beginning.  It also started getting the frothy bubbles sooner than the bleached flour.  She has dubbed her starter “Fred”  & here is a photo: 

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“Fred” – Unbleached all-purpose wheat flour sourdough starter. Day 4.

The steps we have followed so far:

  1. 1/2 c. flour & just over 1/3 c. warm water – mixed thouroughly in a tupperware container with a lid that can be left loose on a corner.
  2. Place in a warmish spot (for us this is on the top of our egg incubator) and stir a few times a day.
  3. Second day, repeat the first step & mix with the original starter. Continue to stir through the day.
  4. Third day, measure the starter and use an equal amount of the fresh batter mix to feed your starter.  For us this came to 1 c. flour & just under a cup of water.  Stir as before.
  5. Fourth day.  Repeat the addition of an equal amount of food to the existing starter.  Stir as before.
  6. Fifth day.  Repeat.  If your starter is getting too big for its container, transfer it to roomier accommidations or discard enough so you can double it up with the food batter again.  Stir as before.
  7. Future (up to about day 10-11) we will continue these steps & hopefully see some rising.  If all goes well we’ll have a nice smelling batch of starter to use for our first loaf of completely homemade sourdough bread.

We should be ready for baking on Easter weekend!  I’ll keep you posted.