Getting back into a routine is hard. In the last eight days we have had three feet of snow, 3 snow days, 5 days of fevers. And so today when the snow is plowed, school is on, and the fevers are gone we all seem crabby. Out of sorts at having to readjust back to the rhythm of daily life. Or perhaps it is more a feeling of being stretched by coping with the changes to routine. Either way it meant a whinny walk to school, and Imogen heading off to her line still teary-eyed. I hope seeing friends and familiar faces has calmed her.
For my part I wonder at how we manage to keep doing all of the things we do even with Mother Nature telling us to stay inside and rest. The plows come, we shovel out, we carry on.
Over the last month I’ve devoured Michael Pollan’s book Cooked. So much of the book sticks with me but what caused instant changes in my kitchen were the chapters on bread and fermentation. In the bread section he explains that bread made with a sourdough starter is both easier for humans to digest and more nutritious. It turns out that that the wild yeasts and bacteria in the starter digest the wheat in a way that makes it easier on the human gut and that unlocks more of the nutrients in the wheat making it accessible to us in a way that commercial yeast can’t (one study even shows that Celiac Sprue patients have no reaction to wheat that has had a long ferment with a sourdough culture). The idea that the wild yeasts and bacteria in a sourdough culture and wheat have co-evolved with us to help us get the most nourishment from what would otherwise be an indigestible grass seems logical. They help us digest the wheat and we make sure the wheat is milled and mixed with water so they can eat it. Symbiosis.
With that, I was off on a quest to change all of our wheat based recipes to use fermented dough – whole wheat flour and water that had been “eaten” by a sourdough culture.
The quest continues, but some things turned out “spot on” right away. Like pancakes. I can’t get enough of these yeasty, homey, wholesome pancakes. With butter, raw honey and cashews they make a great snack. The kids gobble them up too.
Makes approx 24 pancakes
The night before mix until combined:
50g sourdough starter (ours is rye flour based but any starter will work)
150g whole wheat flour
Cover and leave to rise.
In the morning add:
75g melted butter
Pinch of salt
Whisk together until batter is smooth. Make pancakes as you usually would.