Sourdough Pancakes OR Buttermilk Pancakes


Allow me to introduce Tartarus. He’s a hungry little guy with a bubbly personality. He likes to be fed on time and becomes a big strapping lad when you do, but turns nasty and sour when you don’t.

Okay, enough of that, I am talking about my sourdough starter, who did actually turn one year old very recently. No need to mention the number of near-death experiences the poor guy has had over the course of that year.


A sourdough starter, or ‘levain’ is used to make bread rise. What’s wrong with yeast, you ask? Nothing at all. Actually, yeast is more reliable and generally easier to work with than a starter. But making sourdough bread is fun, and I think the tangy flavour it gives makes our daily bread a bit more interesting.

In fact, I would love to add that special sourdough flavour to lots of other bakes. And this is where Mother Nature lends a hand. Because the thing about starters is that you need to feed them. Even though a lot of sourdough bakers (including me) affectionaly name their starters, you’re basically talking about ravenous fungi that are always waiting for their next meal. Not terribly romantic, but there it is.

Feeding a starter means you halve it and add fresh water and flour to one half to make sure your starter lives to see another day. Ideally, you would bake with the other half but if, like me, you can’t always fit baking a sourdough loaf into your schedule, you either chuck the other half of the starter, which is wasteful, or… turn it into pancakes.


I usually feed Tartarus, who spends most of his life in the fridge, on Thursdays (yes, my life is that exciting). Which means that, if I’m not baking bread with his Other Half, Friday is pancake day.

To tell you the truth, I’ve always considered pancakes to be kid’s food; not terribly interesting. But these sourdough and buttermilk pancakes take them to a whole new mature, tangy, airy level.


This recipe is based on one from the Arthur Flour website ( I’ve made it healthier by reducing the oil content and by using a mix of plain and wholemeal flour, instead of just plain. This gives them more texture and flavour and makes them more substantial. It makes a great frothy mixture not unlike a crumpet batter.

The choice of fillings is of course completely up to you. In this case, I filled mine with wilted spinach, mushrooms fried in a chilli and garlic oil, and semi-dried tomatoes.

I realise that this post is quite specific, in the sense that you need a sourdough starter to make these pancakes. But the good news is: you don’t! I didn’t want anyone to feel left out, which is why I have also included a recipe for buttermilk pancakes. Again based on an Arthur Flour recipe and made with half plain and half wholemeal flour. They are truly delicious, but the sourdough ones are just that bit more special when it comes to flavour and texture. If you are not a bread baker but a pancake fiend, keeping a sourdough starter in the fridge just to make these would not be a bad idea. If anyone is interested, I could post a ‘recipe’ for a starter.

The sourdough pancake recipe involves making a sponge: a mixture of your starter, a liquid, and flour that is left to stand overnight or for a day. This intensifies the flavour and improves the texture. If you want to have pancakes for breakfast, make the sponge before you go to bed. I you want to eat them for dinner, mix up your sponge in the morning.

You can also use this batter to make waffles but, as I don’t own a waffle iron, I don’t speak from experience. If you can’t find buttermilk, you can make something very close to it by adding 1 tsp of lemon juice to every 250 ml of milk and letting it stand for five minutes.

Both recipes make about 15 medium-sized pancakes

Sourdough Pancakes  


For the sponge


120 g plain flour

120 g wholemeal flour

30 g sugar

240 g sourdough starter, unfed, stirred well

580 g buttermilk (you know, while you have your scales out. The amount of liquid you’ll need depends on your starter and your flours, so you could put in a bit less at this stage and add some more once you’ve made the batter, if necessary.)


– Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature (overnight or for a day)


For the pancake batter

the sponge

2 eggs

2 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil

¾ tsp salt

1 tsp sodium bicarbonate


– Beat together the eggs and the oil and add them to the sponge.

– Add the salt and bicarb and stir well (and enjoy the frothing of the batter)

– Heat a small knob of butter or some vegetable oil in a skillet and bake the pancakes. Try to keep them as thin as you can.

– You can keep the pancakes warm between two plates (in a very low oven, if you like)

– Fill with whatever you fancy.


Buttermilk pancakes

20140527-173224-63144819.jpg170 g plain flour

170 g wholemeal flour

4 heaped tsp baking powder

½ tsp sodium bicarbonate

30 g sugar

generous pinch of salt

700 ml buttermilk (the amount of liquid you’ll need depends on your flours, so you could add a bit less and thin down the batter later, if necessary)

2 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil

2 eggs


20140528-110505-39905431.jpg– Whisk together the flours, baking powder, bicarb, sugar, and salt.

– Beat together the buttermilk, oil and eggs and add to the dry ingredients.

– Mix until blended.

– Heat a small knob of butter or some vegetable oil in a skillet and bake the pancakes. Try to keep them as thin as you can.

– You can keep the pancakes warm between two plates (in a very low oven, if you like)

– Fill with whatever you fancy.




















12 thoughts on “Sourdough Pancakes OR Buttermilk Pancakes

  1. What a good idea ! One of the things that has always put me off trying sourdough (the main one being nervousness about the whole process) is the waste aspect. And yes, I’d love a starter recipe and care advice. 🙂


    • A friend of mine makes his own beer. It’s really good and the brewing process sounds really interesting. No room in our flat, though. Plus I don’t drink a lot of beer. I’m starting a new levain today so I can publish a post with pictures about it. Maybe that will inspire him. 😉


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