The pancake-crumpet hybrid your breakfast table needs

The Perfect Loaf is a column by Maurizio Leo, software engineer turned bread expert (and Food52’s Resident Bread Baker). Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast leavened, you name it – basically, every vehicle to coat a lot of butter. Today pike on sourdough are thrown away.

Pikes are round toasted buns that are very reminiscent of pancakes or crumpets. They are more common in Australia and the UK and are welcome at my breakfast table anytime. Their flavor isn’t super sweet or savory, a middle ground between syrup-dipped waffles and savory bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. In terms of texture, they’re denser and sturdier than you might think at first glance (they look a lot like fluffy American pancakes), but they’re still chewy on the inside.

Traditionally, pikes are a simple mixture of flour, baking powder, milk and egg; in my usual way, I like to work a little sourdough into the sourdough, which East just flour and water, after all. Using suckers brings two benefits: first, a tart flavor; and two, although the waste is totally edible, it accumulates every time you feed your starter, which can really add up.

These pike take up their own space in the array of breakfast or brunch items that might appear on your kitchen table (and if they’ve never appeared there before, I hope to change that). Let’s take a look at pike and why they are so delicious – especially with a little sourdough added.

What is the difference between pike and pancakes (or crumpets)?

At first glance, a pike might look exactly like a pancake. In fact, my kids raised their hands on the counter and exclaimed, “ooh, pancakes this weekend!” It wasn’t until I explained (though by then they’d started eating ravenously and probably stopped listening) that the pike landed somewhere between fluffy American pancake and porous crumpet and porous more often seen in Europe. Compared to a pancake, they’re smaller and denser, and they don’t fall apart quite the same way. And conversely, unlike a crumpet, pike aren’t as open and porous, because crumpets use commercial yeast and a longer fermentation time to get their insides open – pike only rely on baking powder (and in the case of my recipe, maybe a small addition of sourdough leaven) for leavening.

Compared to making other breakfast classics, such as muffins, scones, or yeast crumpets, pikes are perfect for a laid-back weekend morning. I like to make them early and let them cool to room temperature, where they act as a hearty breakfast that can be enjoyed leisurely with a cup of tea and a bit of the morning news. In contrast, the typical rushed game of pancake making is trying to keep them warm as they come off the hot griddle and hastily eating them before the buttery bits have completely melted to my satisfaction. Pikes are a slow and lazy breakfast’s best friend.

Why (and How) to Use Discarded Starter Sourdough

As a baker, when I’m not making sourdough breads (which is rare, to be honest), I’m always looking for places to work in my sourdough scrapping. Because it is simply fermented flour and water, it can be used in many different ways and can provide substantial flavor wherever it is added. The sourness of fermented flour and water acts much like buttermilk in recipes like cookies, scones and (yes!) pancakes: it adds a spiciness that works to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients. .

When I add sourdough scraps to a recipe, I like to think of the starter as an almost equal mixture of flour and water. But keep in mind that the fermented mixture will have less “life” than with fresh flour. In other words, since the flour has fermented for potentially several hours, it will not have the same gas trapping properties as dry flour added directly during mixing. This means less rising is likely to result when grilling or cooking – but with these stakes, which are denser and more compact, that is precisely the goal.

Recipe: Sourdough pike

Can I use whole grains in pike?

Since pikes are denser and more robust than pancakes, I find they are a great place to add whole grains and not have to worry about a lack of volume. I modified my Sourdough Pike recipe with up to 50% whole wheat flour for more nutrition and flavor – and they were fantastic. The added whole grains provide a robust flavor that works well with sweet toppings and makes for a heartier breakfast.

Whole grain rye, spelled, or khorasan are also great choices, each providing a different flavor. If you are using rye, I would recommend starting with only 10-15% of the recipe’s flour replaced with rye at first, and adjusting that percentage up or down to suit your preference. Due to rye’s low-gluten properties, its dough does not bake at the same high volume as when using wheat.

Add mix-ins to mix it all up

Although pikes are different from pancakes, I have found that all of the typical additions to a pancake batter work great with pikes. Blueberries, chopped apples or pears, even chocolate chips (!) all provide extra sweetness and a new flavor profile. They can also be taken on the salty side with scallions, chopped bacon bits, or even caramelized onions. If I go the salty route, I’d omit the sugar called for in the recipe to plant them firmly in that camp.

What toppings go well with pike?

While you could dunk a pancake in maple syrup, pike goes more of the crumpet or scone route when it comes to toppings, practically begging to be slathered with lemon curd, whipped cream, preserves straight from the jar or even clotted cream. My favorite is a mixture of freshly whipped cream and lemon curd, which makes for a flavorful combination of sweet and tart, similar to sourdough pike itself. I even made a quick blueberry compote using frozen berries and used it in combination with whipped cream for a very satisfying topping. The sturdy pike withstood the juicy fruit concoction and a light squeeze of fresh Meyer lemon finished things off properly.