These warming, nicely spiced gingerbread sourdough pancakes are the perfect option for an easy Christmas morning breakfast! Make the night before (or even the morning of!) and enjoy a special, sweet breakfast that’s still gut-friendly!
Gingerbread seems to be one of those polarizing foods: People either love it, or they hate it. Like olives.
I love it (I hate olives). I love ginger, and will double (or triple) the amount called for in any recipe I make. Mr. Meaghan Grows, on the other hand, could do without. I made him extra bacon to make up for turning our Sunday morning sourdough pancake tradition into a recipe photo session.
This recipe was one of those ideas that once I got it into my head, I just couldn’t let it go. And the Google gods didn’t yield any options close to what I was imagining. There are sourdough pancake recipes galore. Ditto gingerbread pancakes. But the few gingerbread sourdough pancakes either used ingredients I didn’t want to use or were more complicated than I thought they needed to be.
So naturally, I decided to develop my own gingerbread sourdough pancake recipe.
This is really just a simple riff on the sourdough pancake batter recipe I make every week. I swap the maple syrup in the batter for molasses and add all your standard gingerbread spices (ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves). I also grated in a teaspoon of orange zest for a little extra sumpin’ sumpin’.
What I love about my base sourdough pancake batter is that it actually doesn’t call for any extra flour. Just the fed starter, eggs, melted butter/oil, salt, spices, and then a little baking soda right before you fry them up.
But the absence of flour means you don’t actually have to make these ahead of time, unlike most sourdough recipes. If you decide you want pancakes in the morning, but still want the gut benefits of sourdough, bam – you can have these in 20 minutes.
I do still usually make them the night before. I like the convenience of being able to roll out of bed and start breakfast while the coffee brews. But I love that this recipe can go either way, should I need it.
It’s a great recipe to have in your back pocket come Christmas morning. Or really, any snowy, peaceful morning in the winter when you want to put a little extra love in your breakfast – without much extra work. Though, if you’re looking for a project for Christmas morning breakfast, may I suggest my Eggnog and Spice Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls…
But, back to the business at hand:
What do gingerbread sourdough pancakes taste like?
They have all the tang and warm, fluffy butteriness of regular sourdough pancakes, with the addition of warm, holiday spices and some depth provided by the molasses.
Why are my sourdough pancakes gooey on the inside?
You probably cooked them on too high a heat. If your heat is too high, the pancakes will get too dark on the outside before the inside has a chance to cook through. Aim to cook your pancakes on medium, or maybe just a hair above.
Another trick is to watch the bubbles when the first side is cooking. When the bubbles have just begun to pop, you should be good to flip your pancake and wind up with fluffy insides!
Are gingerbread sourdough pancakes healthy?
They’re probably about as healthy as pancakes can be, but they’re still pancakes. And you’re likely still pouring maple syrup on them. I will say the gingerbread sourdough pancakes are probably a bit healthier than my regular sourdough pancakes, as they use molasses in the batter instead of maple syrup or honey.
And, while not healthy, these are more gut-friendly than regular pancakes because of the use of sourdough!
What is “fed” sourdough starter? How do I know when my starter is ready to bake with?
“Fed” starter is sourdough starter that’s been fed recently and is not at its most active point. The yeasts consume the flour and release gases that give the starter, and things made with it, its lift.
If a recipe calls for fed starter, you want to make sure you’ve pulled your starter from the fridge and fed it at least twice before baking with it. It should double in size after a feeding, and you should use it at its highest point. This will come anywhere from 3-12 hours after feeding, depending on the warmth of your house, but 4-6 hours is the more likely window.
Another test to ensure your starter has enough gas in it to rise is to drop a small spoonful into a glass of water. If it floats, you’re good!
What do you serve with gingerbread sourdough pancakes?
Maple syrup is always a good option! Otherwise, I’ve served these with applesauce and cranberry sauce. If you like a bit of tart with your sweet, I bet an orange marmalade would also be excellent.
How can I make my sourdough pancakes more sour?
The sourness of sourdough products has to do with how hungry the starter is when it’s used. So that can be a bit hard to achieve with pancake batter, especially as this recipe calls for a fed starter. While these pancakes aren’t sour, they do have a pleasant tanginess.
If you really want a sour sourdough pancake, look for a recipe that calls for sourdough discard and that doesn’t sit overnight, but rather uses the discard for flavor and baking soda or powder for lift.
How long does sourdough pancake batter last?/Can you save sourdough pancake batter?
It’s best used within two days (provided you’re storing it in the fridge). Beyond that, the starter in the batter will begin to get hungry and more funky tasting, and the pancakes won’t have as good a rise.
Can you freeze sourdough pancakes?
Yes! If you want to freeze for later, I’d definitely suggest cooking and freezing the finished pancakes, not the batter. But, provided you’ve wrapped them well, they should freeze just fine!
What if I want regular sourdough pancakes, not gingerbread?
No problem! Cut the added spices and orange zest and swap the molasses for a milder sweetener like maple syrup or honey.
Bonus: what can I do with my discarded sourdough starter?
While making the batter for these gingerbread sourdough pancakes doesn’t generate discard, as you use fed starter, the process of feeding and prepping your starter to be made into batter will. Loads of recipes call for discard starter, but one of my favorites is just to turn it into a simple savory pancake. Pour your discard into a hot cast iron pan, flipping when it has turned golden brown. Serve with sesame seeds and some soy sauce for a nice snack!
- 1 ½ cups (382 g) fed sourdough starter at peak ripeness
- 3 tbsp (46 g) butter or oil of your choice
- 1 (56 g) large egg
- 2 tbsp (41 g) molasses
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- Optional: 1 tbsp orange zest
- If using butter, coconut oil, or a fat that's solid at room temperature, melt and allow to cool for a moment or two.
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the baking soda and orange zest (if using). At this point, you can cover your bowl and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, preheat your pan to medium-high heat. If using cast iron, be sure to use a generous amount of butter or oil so your pancakes don't stick. I normally use an electric griddle as it allows me to cook more 'cakes at once.
- Once your pan is hot, add orange zest and baking soda to the batter and combine, being sure not to over-mix. (Note: you don't have to make this batter the night before. If making the morning you want to eat, just combine all the ingredients at once and proceed.)
- The baking soda will quickly begin to react with the batter, so act quickly to get the pancakes frying. Using a 1/4 cup measuring scoop (or whatever size pancake you like), ladle into the hot pan.
- Allow to cook a minute or two per side, depending on how brown you like your pancakes. Tip: wait until the edges look dry and the bubbles have begun to pop, but the center of the pancake still looks gooey before flipping.
- Repeat on the other side and with remaining batter. Serve with butter, maple syrup, applesauce, cranberry sauce, jam, fresh fruit, nuts – whatever your heart desires!
While I'm normally a big proponent of weighing your ingredients in baking, these pancakes are so forgiving that I just find it unnecessary. I have included gram measurements for all but the spices here, if that's easier for you!
If you want regular sourdough pancakes, swap the molasses for maple syrup or honey and omit the spices and orange zest.
Check out more of my Christmas/Holidays content:
- Eggnog and Spice Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- How to Make Scented Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments
- Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor Ideas
- 25 Great Gift Ideas for the Gardener in Your Life