Sunday, January 30, 2011

Herman: The Pancakes

Perhaps, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ve tried the recipe for delicious  Amish Friendship Bread, which allows you to show off your baking skills–and to pass along three portions of the Herman starter that’s essential to its flavor.  Perhaps, having given away three cups of the Herman starter (along with three loaves of Friendship Bread, which is really the point of the tradition,) you’ve found yourself, ten days later, with another batch of Herman starter on hand.  Because if you want to keep baking the tasty, tasty bread, you have to keep making the starter.

This is the part no one tells you about when you happily accept that first baggie from your friend.  There’s a reason they call it a starter.

Perhaps, then, you have found yourself staring at the baggies collected on the kitchen counter, desperately pondering the eternal question: What did I get myself into?  What am I supposed to do with all this glop?

You may recall that I first responded to that question by making Herman Bread, which uses one cup of the Herman starter.  It’s an excellent recipe, not as sweet as Friendship Bread, but it still left me with three cups of starter.  Herman freezes well in one-cup portions, and you can use it as soon as it’s completely thawed–about three hours after it’s removed from the freezer–but, still, it has to be used.

After cleaning out my freezer a few weeks ago (and finding several bags of frozen starter), I headed online in search of other recipes that might make use of Herman.  I found many recipes for coffee cake, a few for dinner rolls–and, then, finally, a recipe for Herman pancakes.

Here’s what I love about Herman pancakes:

1.)  They’re slightly sweet, but the sweetness is undercut by the sour taste of the fermented starter.
2.)  They don’t taste like baking powder, as most pancakes seem to.
3.)  They’re very light and fluffy–courtesy, again, of the fermented starter.
4.)  This recipe makes precisely 12 pancakes, which is exactly how many my family will eat in one sitting.

Even if you’re not a fan of pancakes in general–and I count myself as a member of that category–I encourage you to give these a shot.  My version is lighter on the baking powder than the versions I found online (mostly because that’s all I taste when I’m eating regular pancakes), and I use very little milk.  Runny pancake batter leads to thin pancakes that burn on the bottom before they’re stable enough to be turned.  If you’re a fan of the ultra-thin pancake, however, bump up the milk to about half a cup and turn down the heat so your pancakes can cook through without burning.


Herman Pancakes


1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 T. sugar
1 cup Herman starter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
A splash of milk


In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and sugar. Stir together the dry ingredients, then create a well at the center. Pout the Herman starter, oil, and beaten eggs into the well. Mix with a spatula or wooden spoon (not a metal spoon--the sourdough starter will react with metal utensils) until the wet and dry ingredients are combined. Add the vanilla and a splash of milk--just enough milk to give you the right consistency. Pancake batter should be somewhere between pudding and gravy.

Heat a skillet to medium-low (on my electric cook top, I use setting 4) and rub the skillet lightly with butter or cooking oil. Pour out 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancake, allowing them to cook until the edges start to dry and bubbles are forming on top. Flip the pancakes once and allow them to cook for another minute or so. If your pancakes look exceptionally puffy, you might want to let them cook just a little longer.

The Boy says these pancakes are best eaten plain, but The Girl prefers them with the traditional butter and maple syrup. You're the best judge as to which of them is right.



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One Response to “Herman: The Pancakes”

  1. 1

    cbfalcon — February 1, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

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