The first thing I ever learned to make without a recipe in front of me was flapjacks – a sort of traditional South Afican (and Dutch) miniature pancake. Basically because they’re easy, the recipe is super forgiving of ingredient substitution and changes to proportions (they can be made with 1 egg or 4 eggs, or with 1/2 cup of orange juice in place of eggs, with regular self-raising flour, wholemeal flour, or even almond flour, with oil or butter, with or without milk), and at the time I was working with limited ingredients and unfamiliar kitchens.
As a teenager, when I started going to late night parties & staying over at friends houses, I often ended up making breakfast because I woke up early, not hungover (I didn’t drink at that point in time, although most of my friends did), and hungry. And there were no easily accessible and open at 7am on a Sunday local shops.
This was before smartphones and ubiquitous internet searches to bring up recipes, so I had to work with the mostly-remembered recipes I had from watching mum make things. Lack of ingredients in student kitchens meant I couldn’t just do eggs and toast (I also learned to substitute ingredients this way), and flapjacks are, as previously mentioned, easy. A cup of self-raising flour, an egg (or some orange juice; I have tried this and it does work), a bit of oil and some milk if there was any, otherwise water – fry that up and you have a very acceptable breakfast.
The recipe below is a remix of the sourdough English muffin recipe from Little Spoon Farm, combined with my mum’s recipe for flapjacks (summarised above), which, to the best of my knowledge, originated in the South African Houswives Cookbook. You need to begin several hours in advance (the previous evening is best) to allow the sourdough starter time to do its thing.
- 1 cup active sourdough starter *
- 1 cup plain flour, high gluten flour preferred **
- 2 – 4 eggs ***
- 1/3 cup milk ***
- approx. 1 – 1.5 cups water
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup almond flour (or any other nut flour, if you prefer)
- Combine the active sourdough starter, eggs, milk, flour, and enough water to make a pouring batter – i.e. the batter should be about the consistency of softly whipped cream or regular, un-thickened yoghurt. If you’ve made pancakes before, you know what the consistency of pancake batter should be; make it like that.
- Leave the bowl overnight, covered with a lid or a damp tea-towel.
- In the morning, add the baking powder and ground almonds, along with enough water to compensate and keep the batter at the correct consistency.
- Heat a pan with some butter or oil. For each pancake, drop about 2 tablespoons of batter into the hot pan; cook until the top shows some small bubbles and the edges lift up, then flip over and cook the other side.
- Serve with syrup, jam, honey, lemon butter, or whatever pancake toppings you prefer. 🙂
* My starter is osmotolerant (i.e. it can handle additions like eggs, milk, and sugar to the dough; most sourdough will struggle with these sorts of additions), but any sourdough starter will do just fine. This is a great way to use up the excess after feeding your starter, but be aware that the amount of rise you get may vary. An active starter will be bubbling or trying to rise; if you keep yours in the fridge (as I do) then leave it out on the counter for an hour or so before you start with this recipe to make sure it’s awake and active.
** You can also use wholemeal flour, or even a combination of wheat or spelt flour (white or wholemeal) and rye or oat flour. You do need some gluten to stick the pancakes together, so don’t go 100% oat or rye flour. Spelt is fine, as it does contain gluten (spelt is really just a type of wheat), and a good gluten-free flour mix should be fine as well (usually these contain rice flour or another similar starch to replace the wheat gluten).
*** Yes, you can make this vegan by replacing the eggs with chia eggs and using a non-dairy milk (or you can replace the milk with water if you prefer). Milk makes the end result softer and richer, though, which nut milk and soy milk will not do. Coconut milk will, but it does flavour the dough, so only use that if you don’t mind the coconut flavour. Chia eggs will result in a much more fragile batter, so be careful when cooking the pancakes as they will tend to fall apart when you flip them over.