Bread

Baking with Sourdough Starter Discard

5/12/2020 08:29:00 PM

Did you get caught up in the sourdough starter craze while under isolation and / or socially distancing... and then get overwhelmed with the amount you need to discard? Well I did too! And have no fear because I have many delicious ideas for using it up!

Jar of Sourdough Starter
Sister Michael Sourdough Starter

Like so many others who are physically distancing and staying home, I have made a sourdough starter. A sourdough starter is a fermented dough that's full of natural wild yeasts and bacteria, which is used as an ingredient in bread recipes to make the bread rise, rather than a commercially produced yeast. It also has a great sour tang, hence the name sourdough.

My starter is called Sister Michael and she lives in an old jam jar. I followed Edd Kimber's instructions to create Sister Michael, after seeing him do a starter bake-a-long on Instagram a little while ago. It looked like a fun activity to try while I've got all this extra time at home! It took a good six weeks with quite a few setbacks along the way - mould, complete inactivity (both mine and the starter's), and two attempted resurrections - but I have finally created a healthy starter, and baked my very first loaf of sourdough bread last weekend. Woohoo! (I used Dan Beasley-Harling's recipe for overnight sourdough and it worked a treat!)

Sourdough Loaf

A starter is very easy to start (you just need a jar, flour, and water), but difficult to maintain. I didn't really think it through when I got started, and just jumped straight in, but I've since realised that it takes a lot of time and patience and precious flour to get a sourdough starter going from scratch. For the first week or two you've got to discard at least half of the starter EVERY SINGLE DAY, and feed it by adding 50-100 grams of flour and an equal weight of water. It was a lot of flour, but I got in too deep too quickly and couldn't stop.

During this process, I was delighted to discover that sourdough discard is an absolutely excellent ingredient in all kinds of super delicious, doughy recipes. Sourdough starter discard is basically just equal weights of flour and water, so technically you could use the discard in any baking recipe that contains flour and water, and reduce the corresponding amounts of flour and water in the recipe.

From a practical perspective, I kept an airtight container in the fridge, and added the sourdough discard to it every day, until I gathered enough to go into a recipe. Honestly, during those weeks where the starter was just not going anywhere, I was having so much fun baking with the discard that I didn't care if I ever baked an actual loaf of bread.

So, here are the ideas...

Crumpets

Sourdough Discard Crumpets
Sourdough Crumpets

The classic use for sourdough discard! I like these crumpets not just because they taste great, but also because they are primarily made up of sourdough discard. (I.e. you're actually solving the problem of wasting flour in the first place, not just throwing more and more flour in after it). The recipe from the King Arthur Flour website works a treat - you just add a little salt, sugar, and bicarb to your starter, and fry in a pan with crumpet rings. They're so delicious and I've already made these a bunch of times.


Waffles

Sourdough waffles
Sourdough waffles

I think these are my favourite way to use up sourdough discard. Again, this recipe is from the King Arthur Flour website, and it contains my beloved buttermilk which gives the waffles a fantastic texture and flavour. The recipe says to start the batter the night before, and let it rest overnight before finishing it off and cooking the waffles in the morning, but don't let that put you off. I have done the overnight method, but I don't always plan ahead and sometimes have made these waffles all at once in the morning, and both methods have worked fine!


Pancakes

Sourdough pancakes
Sourdough pancakes

You can use the same batter recipe to make pancakes, which I've done a couple of times. They're good, but I think the batter works better as waffles because you get the excellent crunchy ridges. However, the sourdough discard pancakes really come into their own when toasted the next day, like pikelets.


Crackers

Sourdough crackers

Another classic use for sourdough discard! I adapted a recipe for sourdough crackers with olive oil and herbs from Love & Olive Oil to make lavosh-style poppyseed crackers. They were really easy - you basically just stir all the ingredients together, let it rest, then roll out with a rolling pin and bake. They tasted great, and as a bonus they looked super professional! I'll write up the recipe in full.


Grissini

Sourdough grissini and poppyseed crackers

Well if you can make crackers, I assumed you could make grissini! I found a recipe on Sourdough & Olives which looked good, and only after making the dough did I realise the recipe asks for proper healthy active sourdough, not discard. Whoops. I also was super impatient and halved the waiting times and they still turned out great! Again I plan to write my shortened version of this recipe up in full, because it is so easy and so good, and totally doable with sourdough discard. For flavourings I used a mix of sea salt, fennel seeds and sesame seeds, but you could really flavour them how you like.


Blini

Sourdough blini with smoked salmon and cream cheese
Sourdough blini, cream cheese, smoked salmon

I absolutely adore blini - small soft pillowy pancakes of deliciousness! My pal Jess (fellow foodie and prolific sourdough baker) suggested making blini with the discard and I basically jumped straight into the kitchen! She says she usually wings it, but the general idea is to mix equal volumes of starter discard, buckwheat flour and plain flour, then let it stand for a few hours. Then when you're ready to cook, whisk in a little salt, sugar and bicarb and then fry. I loved the nutty hint from the buckwheat flour.

So for all of you out there who, like me, are sourdough novices and carb enthusiasts, I hope this post has given you some good ideas for using up your excess sourdough starter! Do you have any other great ideas or suggestions? Please hit me up in the comments!

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1 comments

  1. Alas I killed my sourdough starter but I love these ideas because I remember thinking that the discard seemed a waste. I'm sure people are finding these recipes super helpful!

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