One of my friends is in the middle of the feasibility study stage of starting a bakery, and it’s marvellous – we are all getting trial loaves and practice tastings of various kinds. The other day he brought a box of delicious little pikelets he’d made from leftover sourdough starter. You know the stuff you throw away every few days while you’re feeding your starter?
It is very, very easy to make a sourdough starter. The yeast that activates it is ‘wild’, and that means the spores are present in every breath of wind, every sunny day, every storm cloud. To capture a few of these magical little spores, you mix together flour and water and leave it in the fresh air, under a tea towel in a bowl on the windowsill will do. There are lots of recipes out there for making a starter – here’s a good one from The Guardian. My expert friend suggests you do it in a lockable plastic tub rather than a glass jar and keep it in the fridge. I’d prefer to do it like that since pouring several grammes of flour into even a wide-necked jar isn’t so easy.
So then, when you are ready to throw out half of your activated starter, it’s time for a pikelet breakfast! This is such a marvellous idea, since most of us thrifty types grieve, just a little, at the idea of throwing stuff away, but we do run out of people to give starter to. No more!
Here’s an excellent recipe for starter pikelets/pancakes/waffles. Yes, it’s the same mix, but each is a slightly different cooking method. I use a flat bottomed pan or my old aluminium griddle for pikelets, make it searing hot, hotter than for pancakes, and use a thin spray of oil or wipe the pan with a piece of kitchen towel dipped in oil. I’m a big rape seed oil fan, but that’s because it’s local.
My baker friend is writing at Medium and on Facebook if you’d like to follow him there. Loaves may soon be available from Doncaster market, but I’m sure you must have a proper artisan bakery where you live, they are popping up all the time.
Of course if you haven’t got any sourdough starter, don’t let that stop you. Simply make a batch of extra-thick Yorkshire pudding or pancake mix and do drop scones instead, using bicarbonate of soda to give you the rise. Eat them all as soon as they are cooked – bicarb ones don’t keep – drizzled with honey and lemon juice or slathered with butter or dipped in hummous. Add a handful of fruit from the summer garden or some sliced banana. Wonderful.