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  • Michele Genest

Sourdough Boot Camp Day Ten

Updated: May 21, 2020

Baked Sourdough Apple Pancake, and maybe...starting a real live sourdough loaf tomorrow

Baked Sourdough Apple Pancake

I have good news today.

Day Ten Sourdough Starter, 12 hours after night feeding, just before the morning feeding

I think my Day Ten starter is just about ready to bake some bread.

Those bubbles look the way the bubbles in my active starter look when the starter is at its peak activity, ready to be fed with flour and turned into dough. Big slow bubbles, and smaller crackly ones. This is a very comforting and familiar look to me. But I'm not jumping the gun.

As a side note, do you see that small bit of starter floating in the glass of water? I did the float test, which I recently learned is one way of checking the carbon dioxide level in the starter. Many sources say that a starter is ready to go when it floats. So I tried it.

And then learned the float test is not conclusive evidence that a starter is at its peak activity--recommended reading. But at least it's an indication that there is action happening.

In any case, I'm following our twice-daily schedule of removing all but 100 g of starter, and feeding with

100g flour (about 1/2 cup)

120 g warm water (just over 1/2 cup)

Once this morning, and once tonight.

I'm keeping an eye on the starter, particularly at the 8-hour mark, which is when I suspect it's at its peak, to see if it has doubled in size. If it has, tomorrow morning I will start the the 2-day process of making a sourdough loaf.

I recommend that everyone at this stage mark the level of their starter and monitor its activity during the day.

I am trying to contain my excitement.

On to today's project, about which I am very excited indeed.

Butter, brown sugar, birch syrup and apples sizzling in the cast-iron pan

Baked Sourdough Apple Pancake

This is a riff on a New York Times recipe by Tejal Reho that was a riff on a recipe by Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn from a family recipe donated by Angela Johnson Sherry.

A Whitehorse friend and fellow sourdough fan invented the addition of brown sugar and birch or maple syrup that caramelizes so beautifully in the bottom of the pan.

We ate it at my house for breakfast and then I spirited the leftovers out of the house to different neighbours' places for their elevenses. (Hanging a parcel of goodies off a doorknob, ringing the bell and then chatting from a safe distance while your neighbour stands in her doorway is a great way to visit!)

My friend cut her leftover pancake into wedges and took them with her on a drive to Marsh Lake. There she and her pal (who drove in a separate car) snacked on pancake while they sat on a bank and watched the swans, who are here in their hundreds now, on their annual migration north.

You could also serve the pancake at dinner; it's a quick and easy dessert, and very elegant when sprinkled with icing sugar and served on a decorative plate.

Two notes: a non-stick pan is not recommended; and be careful with your very hot pan. I leave an oven mitt on the handle while I'm doing something else to remind myself not to pick the pan up bare-handed.


125 g (1/2 cup) sourdough starter discard

1 cup 2% milk

150 g (1 cup) all purpose flour

25 g (2 Tbsp) granulated sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 apple or pear (I used an Ambrosia apple)

55 g (1/4 cup) butter

95 g (1/4 cup, packed) brown sugar

1 Tbsp birch or maple syrup


  1. Place a 12-inch cast iron frying pan on a middle rack in the oven and preheat oven to 450F (232C). (Make sure, whatever pan you use, that it's ovenproof. Non-stick pans are not recommended.)

  2. Whisk starter and milk together then whisk in flour and sugar. Let sit while you prepare the fruit.

  3. Slice apple or pear into quarters and scoop out the core with a knife. Slice each quarter into four thin slices.

  4. Turn a large burner on to medium for 1 minute to heat up. Remove hot pan from the oven and place on the burner. Immediately add the butter and when it's sizzling add brown sugar and birch or maple syrup, stirring vigorously.

  5. Remove the pan from the heat while you arrange the apple or pear slices in a circle on top of the butter-sugar mixture.

  6. Return the pan to the heat and cook for 1 or 2 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, dissolve the baking soda in 1 tsp of water and whisk into the batter.

  8. Pour the batter over the fruit in circles starting from the outside in, making sure batter completely covers the fruit.

  9. Place pan in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until pancake is golden brown and has risen to about an inch high.

  10. Remove from oven, and working carefully so as not to burn yourself, loosen the pancake from the bottom of the frying pan with a spatula. Place a large plate or a baking sheet over the pan, place one hand on the plate, grasp the handle with the other and flip the pancake onto the plate or pan.

  11. Sprinkle with icing sugar (or not) and serve at once for breakfast or dessert. Or cool to room temperature, cut into wedges and take them with you on your outing with the family.

  12. Enjoy the return of the birds, wherever you might be.

Makes one 12-inch round pancake, enough to serve 3 to 4 people.

Baked Sourdough Apple Cake, the top side when ready. After this, you flip it onto a plate.

And then you eat it.

I have so much leftover starter that tonight I'm going to experiment with a version of Scallion Pancakes using only sourdough starter. And make a vegetable stir-fry and a dipping sauce and stuff the pancakes with the stir-fry and oh my.

Hooray for sourdough starter!

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