As we progress through this cooking odyssey together, one thing you will need is a sourdough starter. Making a good sourdough starter is actually pretty easy. I use sourdough for breads, doughnuts and pancakes all the time so this is an important step.
First, get yourself something to store it in. I like a sealable crock. One of those with the wire clamp to hold the lid on. Here's the thing, though. I remove the rubber seal! So, there is some air circulation but it's still well covered. Just a canning jar will do, but it would have to be a pretty big one...quart sized or more. I like the crock because I got one big enough to hold five or six cups of starter, it stays closed without strangling my starter and the mouth is big enough to get a measuring cup in to scoop out what I need.
Now, put in 2 cups of all purpose flour and two cups of "no sugar added" fruit juice. I make my own apple juice and always have some of that on hand so that's what I used the last time I had to make starter; about a year ago.
Another way is to boil some peeled potatoes; maybe making mashed or something, and use the left over water instead of juice. I’ve done both. When your starter is a few years old you won’t be able to tell which liquid you used.
Mix the flour and the juice well and leave it lightly covered for two or three days, stirring once in a while each day. Once you have a good bubbling action going on...called a "sponge", and you can smell that sour, yeasty smell, then you have starter.
Over time, the stored starter will develop a brownish colored liquid on top. This is called “hootch” and is just part of the sourdough. I mix it back into the starter once in a while. Some people pour it off. Whatever “floats yer stick” here.
http://breadtopia.com/sourdough-starter-management/ is a great page about maintaining sourdough starters. I keep mine in the crock in the refrigerator. I try to remember to "feed" it once in a while but usually it is replenished, or "fed", often enough because I am using it.
Starter can last for a long time…years even…if you store it correctly, use it once in a while and, even if not using it, feed it occasionally. The old chuckwagon cooks kept their starter for years, sometimes sleeping with it in their bedroll so it wouldn’t freeze.
Now that you have your starter working; it’s bubbling a little and smells “yeasty” , it’s time to put it to use.
The night before, mix well (to incorporate some air) 1 cup of your starter with 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour and ¾ cup of warm water. Cover and leave at warm room temperature: 70-85 degrees, overnight.
The next morning, return one cup of the starter mixture to your crock.
Then, mix the remaining 1 ½ cups of starter with:
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon of sugar…more if you want. I like a little more.
¾ tablespoon of salt
½ teaspoon (generous) of baking soda
2 tablespoons of milk
Try to have your ingredients at room temperature. This will help to make more tender pancakes.
Your pancakes will be a little heavier and not as fluffy as you are used to. In my opinion, the sourdough flavor blends with a fruity syrup better than regular maple syrup. I also like these with butter and my home made raspberry jam.
Now that you have made sourdough pancakes from scratch, here’s a cheat.
Depending on how many you are making, put ½ to 1 cup of starter in your mixing bowl and then add your favorite boxed pancake mix and just make your regular mix, using your sourdough starter as part of the liquid. This gives you the sourdough flavor, they’ll be a little fluffier than scratch and it’s a little easier because you can do this spontaneously without having to plan from the night before.