A few weeks ago, my friend Amy sent me some of the sourdough starter she’d been using from Cape Cod. We weren’t sure how well it would make the trip, so when it arrived, safely sealed in a tupperware container, I felt I owed it some sort of good treatment. I gave it a high-profile home on my kitchen counter for a few weeks, and fed it religiously until I felt it had recovered from whatever injuries a bread starter sustains traveling across the country via the US Postal Service. Now it’s been demoted to irregular feedings and a place in the fridge, but I’m actually starting to use it.
Amy also sent along a booklet of old-fashioned recipes (obviously typed out generations ago), and mentioned she’s had success adding a cup of the starter (and a little less water) to the infamous Mark Bittman bread recipe I’ve been so happy with in the past.
Since Amy had talked up the sourdough pancakes, I turned first to the pancake recipes. But they all called for some form of instant dry or evaporated milk that I didn’t have in the pantry, which of course had me wondering what’s so wrong with good ol’ (instant, if you ask me) wet milk?
I struck out on my own, hopping from pancakes to crepes (becuase what’s better than crepes on a Sunday morning?) and, perhaps surprisingly, succeeding. When I had made (darn pretty, if you ask me) crepes from about half the batter, my husband offered to hop in front of the stove for me, so that I could enjoy a few while they were still hot.
But the batter didn’t like him as much as it had liked me. Crepe after crepe, he buttered perfectly and used just the right amount of batter, but every time I looked up from my crepe trough, I’d find batter splattered down the side of the pan, or wrinkled, half-cooked crepes piled up like discarded underwear on the “failures” plate. Giggling at him only added insult to injury; he’s usually pretty talented in the crepe-flipping department.
When I started taking pictures, he got even madder. “I don’t make fun of you when you try to do physics,” he said.
“And you can tell the French to go eat shit.”
But he eventually got his mojo back. Sort of:
Though I haven’t ever purchased a starter online, this might be a good choice for those in the PNW, or I’d trust King Arthur Flour. Goldrush might be another one to try. (They’re quite inexpensive, actually.) I look forward to playing with mine more.
Recipe for Sourdough Crepes
Recipe 88 of 365
These crepes offer the yeasty, tangy flavor of natural sourdough bread, but are relatively quick to make if you already have a starter. You don’t have to use all the batter at once – just make as many as you need, and store the batter, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. Stir to blend before using within the next day or two.
Use a well-developed sourdough starter or sponge.
TIME: 5 minutes the night before, plus about 30 minutes active time
MAKES: 4 servings, if you’re good at making crepes
1 cup starter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
In the morning:
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan, as needed
The night before you plan to make the crepes, stir the starter, flour, and water together in a big bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight. Replenish starter.
In the morning, add the eggs, sugar, salt, milk, and butter to the batter, and whisk to combine.
Preheat a crepe pan or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add a scant teaspoon of butter, and swirl to grease the pan well. Pour a generous 1/3 cup batter onto one side of the pan, and tilt and swirl the pan immediately to cover the pan with an even layer of batter. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until bubbles reach the center of the crepe. Carefully flip the crepe, and cook another minute or two. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding butter every few crepes, as needed. Serve crepes hot, just as they come off the pan.
Remember, the first crepe rarely turns out well. It always goes to the chef.