Miners’ Sourdough Pancakes

I set out to answer one question, why these pancakes are called Miners’ Sourdough.

Next thing you know, I’m buried in May Kellogg Sullivan’s book The Trail of a Sourdough: Life in Alaska (1910), the memoir of a woman who self-identifies as a Sourdough, which she defines as “a miner who has spent one winter in Alaska and has seen the ice go out.” So it seems these are the pancakes of prospectors, the rugged men and women who travelled out into the wilderness with just flour and salt and old dough, which, when it soured could be made again and again into new bread. The bubbling dough as precious to the miner as her gold.

Outside is all thunder and lightning and downpour. There’s something about being rained in on a holiday weekend that makes me feel like reading pioneer memoirs, and like making pancakes late in the morning. Sullivan’s is a particularly enjoyable narrator’s voice, had me hypnotized after a couple of chapters. And she wrote the best acknowledgements section I’ve ever read: I do most heartily dedicate this little book to the memory of each horny-handed pack-laden miner “musher” who has ever lifted a finger to assist, encourage, or strengthen the author of The Trail of a Sourdough. The name of these helpers is Legion. That their cabins may be warm and roomy, winter dumps high and numerous, sluice boxes filled with nuggets, and lives long and happy is the earnest wish of May Kellogg Sullivan.”

May your Sluice Boxes be filled with nuggets as well. Happy Memorial Day. Image

Miners’ Sourdough Pancakes

Adapted from The Village Baker

1 cup milk sour starter (let a cup of flour and milk sit out for several days, seriously, or if you don’t have the patience for that, or don’t believe in wild yeast, just use a cup of your regular sourdough starter)

½ cup milk

½ cup all-purpose flour

Mix all these things together and let sit out for 8 hours or overnight.

Then mix all of the sponge,

3 tbsp sunflower seed oil (or whatever oil you like)

2 tbsp sugar

1 egg

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda (optional, and if you do, put it in right before you through the batter on the griddle. I didn’t, because I read that May Sullivan had no baking soda) Image

Try to have your ingredients at room temperature. This will help to make more tender pancakes. Preheat your cast iron skillet and grease it lightly. Bake, pour coffee into a rustic gold miner mug, curl up with May Sullivan’s memoir, and Enjoy!

5 stars. KP in particular loved the pancakes. “Great taste” says the sled-dog man from Alaska, perhaps someone who is like a rugged sourdough himself. Very hearty that man. And a great thesis proofreader!

7 thoughts on “Miners’ Sourdough Pancakes

    1. I got a little bit of a cold, so me and Izzy will take your sound advice. Make these pancakes, Mom. I still love the Ellis pancake recipe, but these were incredible.

  1. I’m forwarding this post to Russia/Kim Walker – remember her from Moyer? 🙂 – who is moving from NYC to her native Alaska in a couple of months!

    1. Please do! I was so jazzed to read that Alaskan pioneer memoir. Haven’t read the whole thing, but that lady Sullivan is a riot! Hard to believe she wrote that over a hundred years ago…

      1. I love that you were inspired to read that, and can see why, given the weather conditions here lately – it is time to dream of adventures with pioneers in far-off gold mines, especially when the protagonist is a feisty lady! 🙂

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