Should we take a break from baking bread for a bit? How about just one entry… Trust me, and it will be worth it when you try even 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 kind of way. 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's something that 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 particular 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.
Golden Sourdough Starter Waffles
These waffles are impossibly light, crunchy, and slightly tangy due to the long fermentation time. In addition to 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.
If you want to increase the amount of sourness, you could hold back some of the sugar in the mix, let the batter ferment longer, or ferment for the same time but at a slightly warmer temperature. Making these recipes won't require a tight schedule, though, so you can mix the night before and make them whenever you get to the kitchen in the morning.
I've found these waffles freeze incredibly well. I'll freeze them in freezer bags and then toast them throughout the week straight out of the freezer using the “frozen” option on my awesome toaster. Perfect every time.
I made these recently on a snowy day here in Albuquerque, which somehow 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 rampantly run around eating the snow, digging here and there, and generally create a little storm of their own.
As adults (maybe it's just me?), we're so hesitant to get dirty and get on with making 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.
The following sourdough waffles can be made in any waffle iron, but I'm partial to the two I have. The first is a Rome cast iron waffle iron which makes these waffles a little more squat but extra crunchy. The cast iron can get extremely hot which quickly sets and sears the waffles.
The other iron I have is a NordicWare cast aluminum Belgium waffle iron—this thing is amazing. If you've ever wanted deep waffles that can hang onto all manner of cultured butter, fruit, and syrup, this is the one for you. My only regret with this iron is that I didn't get it soon enough. It's nice to have both, even if a bit extravagant, as we can alternate between the two irons depending on the type of waffle we're in the mood for that particular morning.
- 460g (2 cups) buttermilk
- 55g (1/4 cup) water (used to adjust batter consistency)
- 113g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
- 100g (1/2 cup, stirred down) ripe sourdough starter
- 250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour, einkorn flour, or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat
- 14g (2 teaspoons) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 5g (1 teaspoon) sea salt
- 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
The night before:
Add buttermilk and the melted and cooled butter to a large mixing bowl. Then add your ripe sourdough starter and mix thoroughly (use a whisk and your hands if needed). Sprinkle the sugar on top and whisk in your flour, a little at a time, until incorporated.
If necessary, use some of the 55g (1/4 cup) reserved water to break up the batter until it resembles a traditional pancake batter (it should pour slowly from a spoon). If you have a 100% hydration starter, you might only need a splash of this water or none at all.
Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature overnight.
In the morning:
Warm your whole eggs to room temperature by letting them sit for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water. Sift the baking soda and salt onto the top of the batter. Crack the eggs and place the whites in one clean bowl and the yolks in another. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Lightly scramble up the egg yolks in the second bowl. Pour the yolks into the batter and gently stir through. Then, using a spatula, fold the eggs whites into the mixture until just incorporated (and no more).
Cook in your smoking hot waffle iron until done to your liking.
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 50's 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 maple syrup diehard, but really, anything less than 100% maple syrup is kind of a letdown for these beautiful 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.
- 2 large eggs
- 245g (1 cup) whole milk
- 61g (1/4 cup) Greek yogurt (optional)
- 250g (1 1/2 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter
- 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla (optional)
- 180g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose, einkorn, or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat, flour
- 6g (1 teaspoon) baking soda
- 4g (1 teaspoon) baking powder
- 5g (1 teaspoon) sea salt
- 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 63g (1/4 cup or 1/2 stick) melted butter
Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk, yogurt (optional), sourdough starter, and optional vanilla. Stir to incorporate.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add dry mix to the egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in melted butter. Wait about 30 minutes to let your sourdough starter get going just a bit.
Lightly grease a smokin’ hot griddle. Drop the batter onto the griddle and cook until light brown and bubbles start to appear on top, then flip to cook the other side. Refrain from flipping multiple times.
You might need to adjust the amount of milk depending on the stiffness of your sourdough starter and your preferred batter consistency. The above ingredients work well for my liquid starter; if you’re using a stiff starter, you might want to add around 1/2 cup more milk.
Overnight fermentation option:
Another option for these pancakes is to let the batter ferment overnight in the same way the waffles are done, above. Combine the milk, sugar, and flour with the sourdough starter the night before. In the morning add the baking soda, baking powder, melted butter, salt, and vanilla. Then separate the egg yolks from the whites, whisk the whites to stiff peaks and slightly scramble the yolks in another bowl. Fold both in just before making the pancakes.
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.↩