June 5th, 2013
*Listen to my interview on Radio New Zealand discussing sourdough and the recipe for these pancakes HERE.
As I write this I am looking out over our garden. Winter has arrived and the trees are barren, not only of leaves but all their fruit is harvested and preserved or stored away for winter. The harvesting of our Granny Smith apples signals the start of winter. We leave the apples on the tree as long as possible for the best flavour until the first frost arrives. Then we harvest and sort the apples into two categories; blemished, that are cooked down into apple sauce; and perfect unblemished apples are individually wrapped in newspaper and snugly packed in a banana box. The box of ‘perfect’ apples will keep in the cool storage shed along with our homegrown garlic, potatoes and pumpkins to be eaten through the winter months.
Fluffy Sourdough Pancakes with Caramel Apples
- 2 cups flour (gluten-free: use 1 cup buckwheat flour and 1 cup brown rice flour)
- 2 free-range eggs
- 3/4 cup (about 150g) sourdough starter (if you are refreshing your starter you can use all of the extra starter in this recipe)
- 1 cup milk + extra if needed to thin
- pinch of salt
- *ghee or butter for cooking
- 4 apples - Granny Smith or Braeburn work best
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon unrefined sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 50 g butter
- On Saturday evening before bed, put all the ingredients into a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon for half a minute until smooth. The beating is important to aerate the mix. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight. In summer (or if you have a warm kitchen) I put the bowl in the fridge overnight but in the cooler months I leave it on the kitchen bench.
- In the morning the pancake mix should be risen nicely. Don't mix the batter, just lightly fold to combine just before cooking. Heat a heavy based frying pan over a moderate heat. Pour one ladleful (approx 1/2 cup) into the hot pan - do not spread the mix out or swirl the pan, these are meant to be thick. Cook until the edges are golden then carefully flip and cook the other side until golden. Keep the pancake warm in a 100°C oven and cook the remaining mix. The pancake mixture won't keep its lightness for long so it is best to cook these all up at once and reheat any leftovers in the toaster (just like crumpets).
- Make the caramel apples. Peel and core the apples and slice into thin wedges (or use the cool apple gadget featured in my video). Put the apple slices in a bowl, add the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and toss to combine.
- In a frying-pan melt the butter. Once it is foaming add the apples and cook over a medium/high heat for 5 minutes/ Gently turn the apples with a spatula for even cooking.
- Eat the pancakes immediately topped with caramel apples, frozen berries (or fresh) and drizzle with maple/ apple syrup. Enjoy!
Winter in New Zealand means cold nights and more often than not clear sunny days (well in Nelson anyway). We don’t have snow on the ground, as some may expect who haven’t visited our Southern islands. It does snow occasionally here but it doesn’t stick around for long before it melts beneath the winter sun. This means that we can grow food all year around. However, the winter season is limited to frost-resistant crops, especially in our little valley where the frosts can be heavy.
We put most of our garden beds to rest under a blanket of newspaper covered with a thick layer of autumn leaves. And several beds are sown with a green crop of lupins or peas to revitalise the soil for spring plantings. Our winter beds, those that get decent sun hours over winter, are producing a slow but constant supply of winter greens – kale, silver beet (swiss chard), spinach, rocket, parsley and coriander – with broad beans and sprouting broccoli plants keeping them company.
I do like winter, it is a nice break from the busyness of the rest of the yeat and I don’t need an excuse to slow down. Early nights reading books and snuggled by the fire are the norm for the next 3 months as we hibernate like the garden. I notice my children are also in hibernation mode, going to bed earlier and waking later than in Summer when the sun is still shining brightly when they go to bed. And like the garden, we wear more layers during the day and snuggle under more blankets at night.
This weeks recipe is one we make most weeks. Sunday morning pancakes is a bit of an institution around here (as I am sure they are in many households). I often make buckwheat crepes; large, thin pancakes rolled with banana slices and yogurt, accompanied by bacon and maple syrup. Now I have a bubbling sourdough starter on the bench we have been enjoying making light and fluffy pancakes – Canadian style. These remind me of my first trip to Canada when I was 17 and a memorable jet-lagged breakfast in Vancouver City. For $5 we were served a huge stack of fluffy pancakes accompanied with a large jug of maple syrup.
If you have dabbled into sourdough making (I suspect there may be a few of you from the emails I have received about my bread), then this recipe is a great way to use up some of the excess starter. I am finding the cooler temps are keeping my starter rather happy as it much prefers a stable temperature to do its thing. If the temperature fluctuates too much then my starter starts to smell sour (sourer that it should). If this happens I pour off most of it leaving about 1-2 tablespoons in the jar and feed with 40g flour and 40g water. It is good practice to do this every now and again to refresh the starter.