Should we take a break from baking bread for a bit? How about just one entry… Trust me, it will be worth it when you try one of my top 3 leftover sourdough starter recipes below. Plus, it's still considered baking if we're using a starter in a roundabout way, right? This post presents a few ways to utilize our excess sourdough starter discarded at each feeding (refreshment).
Since I feed my sourdough starter twice daily, I usually have an excess of starter in the morning and evening. Many see this excess as “waste,” but it can be used for many things besides going into your compost bin. After all, this waste can be seen as food for our starter so it can continue living.
The following recipes are tried and true here in my kitchen. I've made the waffles and pancakes so many weekends the process has become ritualistic: mix the batter the night before to ferment overnight, wake and finish mixing, and then get cooking.
My previously outlined schedule for creating a sourdough starter and my guide on maintaining a sourdough starter will work well with any of the following recipes, ensuring you have enough starter each day to meet the requirements. Note that you might have to adjust the hydration of the recipes below to suit your sourdough starter. If you maintain a stiffer starter (60-75% hydration), you might have to add more liquid until the consistency of the batter is typical for what you're making.
My Best Sourdough Waffles
Lengthy fermentation time makes my best sourdough waffles impossibly light, crunchy, and slightly tangy. In addition to the wonderful flavor, because the flour is fermented for several hours, the entire batter becomes aerated, resulting in a waffle that will surprise you on your first bite. They have just the right ratio of sweet to savory, with a slight but noticeable tang at the end.
I made these recently on a snowy day here in Albuquerque, which fits perfectly with warm waffles. Arya, our German shepherd, wanted to go outside to do some hiking and investigating in the snow. It’s funny to watch shepherds outside when it snows: they run around eating the snow, digging here and there, and generally creating a little storm of their own.
As adults (maybe it's just me?), we're hesitant to get dirty and make a mess; sometimes, it's great to see kids or your pets throw all that aside and care only about the moment. Thankfully, a batch of sourdough starter waffle batter was fermented and ready to hit the iron.
If you have sourdough starter discard ready, try these waffles, you'll love them!
Sourdough Starter Pancakes
Pancakes are one of my favorite breakfast indulgences. I have memories as a child waking up to the upstairs kitchen (yes, strangely, our kitchen was upstairs, and all the bedrooms were downstairs—that's the 50s for you) smelling like batter and butter. Fresh fruit to the top was always a staple, as was good maple syrup. I’m not a diehard maple syrup, but really, anything less than 100% maple syrup is kind of a letdown for these beautiful sourdough pancakes.
These can be made quickly and easily on a whim; you need very little pre-planning to make these happen (isn’t that usually the case on late Sunday mornings?). I’ve used this core recipe a dozen different ways based on the season: pureed pumpkin mixed in during November, fresh blueberries tossed into the batter during the summer, and ricotta added in at, well, any time of the year. If you’ve made pancakes before, you know just how versatile they can be.
I like to use a smoking hot griddle to cook pancakes; it makes a huge difference in the quality of your pancakes. If you don't have one, you can pick up a cast iron griddle for relatively cheap, and it'll last a lifetime.
Baker's Banana Bread
Banana bread is something I had at least once a month growing up. A family of four always seems to have excess bananas on hand, you know, those in the kitchen that are so black and mushy no one ever touches them. Well, these are the bananas you want to use for this banana bread!
This banana bread could easily become zucchini bread by swapping out the bananas (or you can keep them) with grated and pressed zucchini1. I like this recipe as the ingredients are flexible and include items I always have on hand—a “bakers” banana bread, if you will.
As seen above, sometimes I like to top it with slivered almonds and a split banana before baking. Enjoy as-is, but my favorite is to spread on a layer of full-fat plain Greek yogurt on the top of each slice — delicious.
- 240g (2 cups) spelt, whole wheat, einkorn, all-purpose flour, or a mix
- 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
- 3g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
- 125g (1 cup) chopped walnuts (and/or pecans)
- 126g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 100g (1/2 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125g (3/4 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter
- 42g (2 tablespoons) raw honey
- 4 (about 365g) super ripe and mashed bananas
- 28g (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
- 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla
- zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Bake in a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan—my favorite is my Staub cast iron loaf pan as seen above, which gives this bread a crispy crust.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a small bowl mix a handful of chopped walnuts and a few pinches of sugar. Set aside to be used as the topping later.
In another bowl (or a stand mixer), cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. While mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, vanilla, and olive oil. Then, add in the flour mixture slowly, pausing to scrape down the sides if necessary. By hand, fold in the remaining walnuts and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the 9” x 5” baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle on the reserved chopped walnuts and sugar.
Bake for 55-65 minutes until the internal temp right in the middle is 200-205°F (93-96°C). Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack to thoroughly cool.
This banana bread will stay moist for days after baking, but be sure to wrap it in aluminum foil or something else to prevent too much moisture loss.
So there you have it, my top 3 leftover sourdough starter recipes. If you get into a good rhythm, and with little extra planning, you can make a superb breakfast each weekend (or weekday if you go late). Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day, and with the recipes above, it's just that much better. While not technically a breakfast food, banana bread is perfect in the morning with a cappuccino or pour-over.
After you grate the zucchini into fine little strands, press them between two paper towels to extract some of the moisture out.↩