Don’t Throw Out Your Sourdough Starter – Dutch Baby Pancakes

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I enjoy each and every one of my Saucy Sisters meetings but when I learned that we were going to be doing sourdough I was kind of excited. I haven’t done sourdough since I was in my 20s.

Hmm, is that a theme? So many things I haven’t done since I was a young woman that I’m starting to reconnect with.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was pretty excited about our sourdough meeting. I first started doing sourdough after a trip to San Francisco and bringing home a San Francisco sourdough starter kit. Like most things I do, I jumped into it with both feet, and started making sourdough bread almost weekly.

skillet with finished Dutch baby pancake with text overlay: Sourdough Dutch Baby PancakesAnd then I remembered why I quit doing sourdough. In order for your starter to be ready for you to use, your container has to sit out on the counter and you have to feed your starter daily. As someone on another blog said, I’m not interested in feeding it every day, I already have a cat. I love that!

Granted, you can store it in the fridge and only take it out when you want to use it but that’s why I ended up quitting sourdough all those many years ago. It got stuck in the back of the refrigerator and forgotten and the poor thing died.

Should you Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch or a Commercial Starter?

Sourdough is easy to start from scratch, like the Saucy Sisters did, but the Sourdough Home website recommends that if you are new to sourdough that you start with a good commercial starter (not like the one I brought home from San Francisco!). This will give you a chance to learn how good starter should act and how it should look and smell.


Ready to make our sourdough starter


Don’t Throw Out Your Sourdough Starter When You Feed It

Another thing that I find to be a negative about sourdough is that when you feed it, unless you want to end up with gallons of sourdough starter if you don’t bake every day, you have to throw some of it out. Well, it just goes against my grain to waste anything, even a little bit of flour.

Many sourdough recipes require either planning ahead by starting a sponge the night before or lots of rising time. Since there is only me to cook for, I’m not very good at the planning ahead part. Our packet of recipes and instructions that we got at our Saucy Sisters meeting included a recipe for pancakes that use the room temperature starter without any other preparation so I tried them.

The pancakes were excellent, but I’m just not that much of a breakfast food person. I don’t do carbs for breakfast–I need my protein. Even still, I kept looking for other recipes to use my starter in rather than throw it out. When I ran across a recipe for Dutch baby pancakes I knew that was it. Before I moved up to Northern California, a friend and I used to go to our favorite German restaurant, Jagerhaus, almost every weekend and we would share a German or Dutch baby pancake and sausage.

According to legend, Victor Manca of Manca’s restaurant in Seattle, first served small versions of German pancakes. His daughter could not pronounce Deutsch, the German word for German, and instead said Dutch baby. Larger versions of the Dutch babies were eventually served and called big Dutch babies so the name stuck even for the larger size pancake.

Sourdough Dutch baby pancake with bacon jam

Add some bacon jam and you don’t even have to cook bacon or sausage!

Sourdough Dutch Baby Pancakes

So how are Dutch baby pancakes different from regular pancakes? They have more eggs in the batter and come out moist and custardy. I like that they have extra protein from the additional eggs and milk.

Sourdough Dutch baby pancake with a wedge cut out


These moist and creamy pancakes are delicious. They are perfect for any meal or even dessert. Click To Tweet

The first recipe I found for Dutch baby pancakes using sourdough starter that I would otherwise throw out, was for a large, 10″ size pancake. I made this recipe and it was delicious but way too large for me. I tried modifying the recipe but the amounts ended up being oddball and hard to remember and a pain to measure. Finally, I ran across a site that gave precise measurements PER EGG which makes it so easy to adjust for the number of people being served. Here’s the basic recipe from Inner Lodge. This site doesn’t seem to have been updated for years but I was glad to find this listing of ingredient ratios.

Recipe per egg:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cream, 1/2 & 1/2 or milk (optional)

Pan sizes (allow 2 eggs per serving)

  • 1 egg – 4″ pan
  • 2 eggs – 6″ pan
  • 4-6 eggs – 9-10″ pan
  • 6-8 eggs – 10-12″ pan
  • 10-12 eggs – 14-16″ pan

Will My Dutch Baby Pancake Rise?

My journey with Dutch baby pancakes hasn’t been one of technical success. Dutch babies are supposed to rise high up the sides of the pan and collapse when you remove them from the oven. I have made dozens of Dutch babies trying various modifications and I have yet to see one rise! I’ve read post after post saying they are easy and foolproof only to read comment after comment on the post that folks have the same problem. Here are some things I’ve thought of or read that might be the problem.

  • Your oven needs to be very hot and you are warned not to rush this. Recipes say to bake the Dutch babies at 425 degrees so I raised my oven temperature to 450.
  • When I learned that all ingredients should be at room temperature, I made sure to take my eggs and milk out to give them time to warm up.
  • I originally used my 6″ Armetale skillet which has slanted sides and the recipe for two eggs fills it about half way. I thought maybe straight sides and a slightly larger skillet would work better so I bought an 8″ cast iron skillet.first-dutch-baby-pancake-hot-out-of-the-oven
  • In case my pan wasn’t getting hot enough in the oven, I heated my cast iron skillet on the stovetop.
  • It is the trapped moisture in the Dutch baby that makes them rise so I added some extra water since I use 1/2 & 1/2.
  • Most recently, I read that it could be too much egg if the eggs are really large. Well, bummer. That extra protein is what I like. I’ve been using my neighbor’s super jumbo eggs but I recently bought large eggs at the store which are quite a bit smaller.

None of these things made one bit of difference. Now don’t get me wrong. I haven’t been making all these modifications to make the pancakes taste better because I love them the way they turn out–moist and custardy. I am just determined to figure out why they aren’t rising. The last thing I am going to try is an even larger pan than called for in the recipe. A larger pan means the batter will be shallower. It will cook faster and will not have as custard-like consistency. If I ever get it to rise, I might decide I like it the other way better! And I have to say, many of the photos I see on other blogs look the same as mine.


How to Make a Dutch Baby Pancake

When my friend and I had Dutch baby pancakes at Jagerhaus, in addition to plain ones, they had cherry and peach. We tried them all and the cherry was my favorite. I’ve experimented with several different fruits, including pumpkin. The following recipe is one of my favorites that I came up with.

When I first made this version, I was concerned that it might stick in the pan but it didn’t.

Even this two egg size, which is supposed to be a single serving, is too much for me. I usually have half for breakfast and the other half for dessert a day or two later. I heat it gently in the microwave and top with fruit and whipped cream or just whipped cream dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon like I did for this pumpkin Dutch baby.

Pumpking Dutch baby pancake
Pumpkin Dutch baby pancake with whipped cream

Have you made German or Dutch baby pancakes? Do they rise for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Dutch baby pancake with melted butter and text overlay: Sourdough Dutch Baby Pancakes, Use that sourdough starter you were going to throw out!
top photo of pumpking Dutch baby pancake with whipped cream, bottom photo pouring syrup on pancake, text overlay: Sourdough Dutch Baby Pancakes, Versatile, moist, oven-baked pancakes


Until next time…
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  1. I used to have the same problem with these pancakes not rising. I read somewhere that the amount of butter was the problem – I was using too little! I usually make a recipe with three eggs – sometimes four if I want a bit extra protein or if the eggs are small – and I use two glass pie plates.

    I place each pie plate in the oven without butter while the oven is preheating, and once heated, I pull them out and add 2Tbsp of butter to each plate, making sure to coat the bottom and some of the sides. I then pour the batter into each plate evenly in the middle of the butter. This has made my pancakes foolproof! Hope that helps…

  2. Hey Cowgirl,

    Stumbled onto your recipe this AM while looking for a sourdough Dutch Baby recipe. Had the same problem with rising..suspect it was due to too large a pan. I’m going to check my Yorkshire pudding recipe against this one since the end result is quite similar and my pudding always “creeps” up the sides of the dish.
    Thanks much, used to live in So Lake Tahoe and miss the Sierra greatly.
    Aloha, Kurt

    • Hi Kurt! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’d love to hear if you came to any conclusions after checking your Yorkshire pudding recipe. I can imagine how much you miss all the beauty here.

  3. My mom made these but without sourdough starter. 1c flour 2 cups milk 3 eggs.Add vanilla and a bit of sugar or honey and cinnamon if you like. We whisked it. Meanwhile preheat oven to 375F. Fry 3 strips bacon in your cast iron skillet. Leave the grease and bacon in and pour batter over it. The sides poof up right away. Bake for about 30 min.
    Using starter I have less poof! They taste delicious but lack the soufflé like rise.

  4. I had similar problems! I changed from just whisking to using a blender to mix the ingredients together. The eggs provide the leavening so I’ve found they really need to be whipped up to rise. The recipe I use from Grand Central Bakery in Portland, OR says to mix in a blender or food processor. I didn’t think it would make much of a difference, boy was I wrong! My Dutch Babies went from flat to puffy. I’ve also used a hand held egg beater with equal success. The extra whipping made the difference for me. Can’t wait to try this recipe out! Cheers to new adventures in sourdough!

  5. Found this recipe yesterday and couldn’t wait to try it. today, the temps were cooler, so – yum! I divided the recipe in half (just for one) and it worked out perfectly! the garden is gifting me rhubarb in abundance, so rhubarb it was and it was a good choice. topped with butter, brown sugar and rhubarb compote. so yummy!

  6. I will try your sourdough recipe tomorrow AM and report back. Thanks for the tips and per egg information.

    The key to have a Dutch baby rise is to put the cast iron pan in the oven to get it hot first. I use clarified butter (ghee) in the pan instead of butter since the butter solids do not burn. When the pan is hot, open oven and slide out the rack with the pan on it and carefully pour your mixture into the center of the pan. Then carefully slide rack back in, close door and bake. you can see chef John’s recipe for this online.

  7. I did use your recipe with no added leavening other than my starter. Result was that it did turn out just like your photos but did not give that spectacular rise so typical of Dutch babies. Good taste. My husband said we should stick to our usual recipe and keep using our sourdough for pancakes. It is possible that adding 1/2 tsp eachof baking powder and soda would do the trick.

  8. Yum! I haven’t made Dutch babies in years, but never a sourdough one. That would be wonderful, I’m sure, but with my method of sourdough breadmaking I don’t have any discarded starter. Maybe next week, instead of making bread, I’ll make Dutch babies! Like you, I cannot stand food waste.

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