Nearly every weekend, Michael makes sourdough pancakes from sourdough that he started over 30 years ago (when he was married to someone else—because I was 13 and too young to marry at the time). He started it with whole wheat flour, honey, milk, and a little bit of yeast. His father, the old man of the mountains, came to visit him in Flagstaff in 1976, and they hiked into the Grand Canyon a little ways and hiked back out. To celebrate this rare occasion of his father leaving Alaska, he started this batch of sourdough and made him the first batch of pancakes.
The sourdough starter doesn’t have to be started with yeast. He cheated. You just leave whole wheat flour and water in a warmish place. There are wild yeast beasties in the whole wheat, especially if it is stone ground organic flour. (If you want to buy starter, here’s a good place to get it.)
Each time you use it, you must feed it a bit. Michael uses flour and milk or water. Occasionally he adds honey if he hasn’t used it in a long time.
Michael learned to make sourdough pancakes from his father, who learned it, maybe, from his grandmother. Michael is now waiting for his children to show an interest so he can pass it on to them.
To make pancakes he flops some of the sourdough into a bowl and adds more flour, more milk, honey, eggs, oil, and a little bit of baking powder. The consistency should be like runny yogurt. The pans, preferably cast iron skillets, should be hot, but not smoking hot.
We put cheater syrup on it, made from brown sugar, water, and maple flavoring. Once in a while we splurge and buy real maple syrup, or someone gives it to us for Christmas. Michael puts straight molasses on his. I really like to have yogurt and fruit on mine. Isaac is a strictly no butter, plenty of syrup guy. Nancy, when she was little, liked hers with honey.