Recipes for Seminar #10: Sourdough

Most of the Seminar #10 on sourdough is being led by Karl de Smedt, founding curator of the Puratos Sourdough Library. He is suggesting a pancake and/or waffle recipe for the Thursday, July 16, 2020 Seminar/Workshop.

So we hewed off some of the inside logs of the cabin, and soon had a roaring fire. With our evaporated potatoes soaked and ready to fry, in less than half an hour we had a good breakfast of fried potatoes and bacon, black coffee and sourdough pancakes. “Landing at Dawson City, Yukon Territory” a chapter in “Attraction of the Compass or, The Blonde Eskimo” by Howard Lewis Dodge, 1916

Karl will be presenting from the Sourdough Library in Belgium. He will be using a starter from the Klondike goldrush era circa end of the 19th century. The recipes he collected when collecting Klondike starters are both enriched doughs with sourdough used as the leavening, plus a little soda.

Early Modern pancake recipes were enriched with eggs, butter, and cream, but were usually unleavened. Completely unleavened pancakes were still common in 19th century American cookbooks, although there were also pancake recipes that used a chemical leavening, like soda or saleratus, or beaten egg.

The sourdough pancake and waffle tradition is relatively new to American culinary traditions. I find no record of the recipe in any 19th century cookbook. They do not appear in cookbooks until after World War II. Searching in Google Books, up to 1940 there are only 12 references to “sourdough pancakes. It looks like the term exploded in popularity from the 1970s on. They remain rare. The most common modern American waffle and pancake is leavened with baking powder. In my family they were (are) leavened with egg whites.

Sourdough leavening for pancakes and waffles is associated with the Klondike gold rush at the end of the 19th century, and as such is part of the mainstream American romantic understanding of frontier settlements. Sourdough waffles and pancakes are foods that a large number of Americans have heard of, but at the same time they are rarely prepared, at least in the “lower 48” states. When the sourdough pancake starts becoming more often mentioned in texts in the 1940s it is closely associated with hunting trips – thus, camping.

The type of oil used in these recipes marks them as American. One of them uses 100g oil. In Early Modern pancake recipes that would have been butter. Sugar creeps into American pancake recipes in the 19th century, though there were sill many recipes published that were sugar-free.

Sourdough waffles and pancakes have a wonderful taste. They also provide a good use of starter you need to dispose of to refresh your mother starter.

I am providing the links to the recipes, below, with their instructions at the Quest for Sourdough website. The website is worth visiting. Some really excellent videos and lots of recipes. I am also posting the ingredient lists here so you can print them both out on a single page.

Note: If you do not have a sourdough starter then I suggest you create a yeast starter. The quantity of starter needed is 350g for the pancakes and 500g for the waffles. If you make both recipes then you need 850g starter. To make that much starter mix 425g flour (nearly a pound) with an equal weight of water. Add .5% to 1% dried yeast — 4g – 8g – depending on when you start your starter. My advice is to at least start your yeast starter sourdough substitute the night before (tonight!). Mix with warm water. Leave out at room temperature until it is working strongly. Then, store in the refrigerator until a couple hours before the Seminar/Workshop starts.


The link to the waffle recipe with instructions are at the Quest for Sourdough website.

  • 500 g of liquid mature starter (add a tablespoon of sugar according to your taste)
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g oil (peanut or canola)
  • 5 g baking soda
  • 5 g salt


The link to the pancake recipe with instructions are at the Quest for Sourdough website.

350 ml starter

1 egg
30 ml or 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
**30 g or 1/4 cup instant dry/powdered milk or evaporated milk
Beat thoroughly. In a separate smaller bowl combine the following:
5g or 1 tsp. salt
5 g or1 tsp. baking soda
25 g or 2 Tbsp. sugar
2,5 g or 1 tsp. cinnamon (if you want, to taste)
**If you don’t have dried milk or evaporated milk then just use milk.

Mix these dry ingredients together, get all lumps out of soda. Then sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter/mixture and fold in gently. This will cause the batter to rise. Let the batter rest just a few moments as you get the griddle ready.

Mix in fresh blueberries to the batter and then pour batter on griddle to make pancakes. Makes about 12 pancakes.

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