Should we take a break from baking for a bit? How about just one entry… Trust me it will be worth it when you try a few of these starter recipes. Plus, it still is related to baking when you get down to it, this entry is just going to help us make even more incredible food from our family member Brutus1, or whatever you named your sourdough starter. There is no limit to his providing.
The following recipes are tried and true here in my kitchen. Being that my sourdough starter is always feed twice daily I have plenty of excess in the morning & evening and you can add in a bit more to your feeding if you need a little more. Many people see this excess as “waste” but it’s something that can be used for many things besides going into your trash bin. After all, this “waste” is the levain we typically use to give life to our sourdough loaves from a mixture of simple ingredients — the life of your bread if you will.
As a short aside, even though you’d typically pitch your excess starter into the trash, I actually toss mine into my weekly compost bin that I bury in my garden or anywhere I know I’ll be doing some plantings the next season. I mix my starter up with whatever organic scraps are created from cooking with my farmer’s market produce and a weekly pail is saved for the weekend dig. Simple, and it’s just one more use for your starter.
I know I’ve been working with a stiff starter and levain recently, but my previously outlined schedule for feeding a liquid starter will work equally well with any of these recipes, in some cases actually a bit better. Depending on the hydration of your starter you might have to tweak each recipe a bit to get the consistency you want: some people like pancake batter to be more runny, some like it thicker, and the same goes for waffle batter.
Let’s get on to some recipes with a sourdough starter.
Golden Sourdough Starter Waffles
One of the best waffles I’ve ever eaten was at Mother’s Bistro in Portland. My brother, who lives out there, goes there just about every weekend and somewhere around 90% of the time orders their incredibly fluffy, crispy, golden brown waffle-from-heaven. It’s really a no frills ordeal: a golden brown waffle, a little fruit, a little syrup and a little whipped cream. But I tell you, it’s a life changer. Get there early to avoid the line.
My take2 on a morning waffle of course incorporates a bit of my sourdough starter, and these “golden sourdough starter waffles” come out a crispy golden brown at just the right ratio of sweetness to savory (with a welcome slight tang to them at the end). They do take a bit of preparation, so you need a smidgen of a plan to make these happen on the weekend. The batter is prepared the night before with some buttermilk and left to ferment overnight. There really isn’t a tight schedule, though, you can get to it whenever you wake up in the morning.
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 just go ballistic running around eating it, rolling around in it, digging through it and generally creating a little storm of their own. It’s like their revert to some primal instinct to just go out there and have fun.
We (maybe just me?), as adults, are always so hesitant to get dirty and get on with making a mess, sometimes it’s great to see kids or your pets just throw all that aside and care only about the moment and having fun. Safe to say after we chased each other around and hiked around a bit I had a cleaning session on my hands before she came back in the house. Worth it.
Let’s talk about waffle irons. I love my Rome cast iron waffle iron but if you plan to have guests over to eat these waffles, you better have an apparatus that can make more of these bad boys at a time. It’s a bit laborious for me to make a stack of waffles but I just dig the way these waffles cook up in a smokin’ old cast iron pan. A little bit of golden color all over, a little bit of char here and there, and crunchy & crispy throughout.
My pan and I actually have quite a long, quarrelsome history together. As you can see it doesn’t have any area that remains cool and I still have a few burn marks on my hands from accidentally grabbing the handles. In the end, though, we’ve come to terms and I keep it clean and it cooks my waffles to crunchy-perfection.
- 2 cups buttermilk (I like 2% milk fat)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1/2 cup sourdough starter
- 2 cups all purpose flour (I’ve used up to 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for extra heartiness)
- 1 1/2 tsp. turbinado sugar
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
The night before:
Get our your buttermilk from the fridge and measure out 2 cups, measure out 1/2 cup warmish water from your tap and reserve. The water is used to either dilute your starter if stiff, or not used at all if you have a 100% hydration starter.
Stir together your buttermilk and butter and then add in your starter. I whisk things up a bit here as my starter is quite stiff and it takes some coercion to get integrated properly. Stir in your sugar and then whisk in your flour, a little at a time, until incorporated.
Add in water until your batter resembles a traditional pancake batter. If you have a 100% hydration starter you probably won’t need to add any water, for me and my 65% stiff starter, I ended up adding in the entire 1/2 cup.
Cover your mixture 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 hot tap water. Sift the baking soda and salt into the batter & stir, scramble your eggs (or separate the eggs, add the yolks to the batter and whisk the whites to stiff peaks for an even lighter texture) and stir everything together until mixed in.
Cook in your smoking hot cast iron. Eat.
Crispy, golden, tangy and gooey goodness.
Breakfast 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 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 wonderful 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, if you haven’t done so you might want to head to a friend’s house if they have one. It makes a huge difference in the quality of your pancakes. If you don’t have one you can pick up a cast iron Lodge griddle on Amazon for fairly cheap. Can you tell I’m a cast iron fanatic?
Fresh blueberries and fresh espresso, two of the most important ingredients in my kitchen. You could just as well use any fruit to top these pancakes, strawberries and another one of my favorites as is banana and apple. As for espresso, only fresh roasted beans will do, my favorite blend at the moment is Intelligentsia’s Black Cat. If I could get it delivered as cheaply I’d probably go half and half with Stumptown’s Hair Bender — so good.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (optional)
Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk, optional yogurt, 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.
Makes 6-8 servings, depending on how large you like ’em.
Baker’s Banana Bread (makes 1 loaf)
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 ones in the kitchen that are super black and mushy, so black that no one ever touches them even when new green bananas are bought and sitting next to them. Well these are the bananas you want to use for banana bread, and thus we did.
This banana bread could easily become zucchini bread by swapping out the bananas (or you can keep them) with grated and pressed zucchini3. I really like this recipe as the ingredients are flexible and include items I always have on hand — a “bakers” banana bread if you will.
Note that you do not want to overwork the flour mixture. Gluten development is not your friend with bread like this. Enjoy as is or my favorite is to spread on full-fat plain greek yogurt (like Fage). Of course if you have Philadelphia Cream Cheese that would be an ultimate sweet tooth topping, I rarely have this on hand, though.
- 3/4 cup sourdough starter
- 2 cups spelt flour (all purpose white flour)
- 3 super ripe mashed bananas (black and mushy)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (European style if you have it)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (and/or pecans)
- 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Bake in a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
In a large mixing bowl combine spelt flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl mix together a small amount of chopped walnuts and a few pinches of turbinado or demerera sugar. Set aside.
In another bowl (or a stand mixer) beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. While mixing, scrap down the sides of the bowl.
Add in sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, and olive oil. Add in the vanilla. Add in the flour mixture slowly, mixing lightly while incorporating and scraping down the sides if necessary.
By hand, fold in the walnuts and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the 9” x 5” baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle on the chopped walnuts & sugar.
Bake for 55-65 minutes. It’s better to undercook this than overcook: you want it moist. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack to cool.
In the photo above I added a bit of flaxseeds to the top along with my walnuts. Tasted great as they add just a bit more nutty flavor and crunch. This banana bread will stay pretty moist for days after baking it but make sure to wrap it in aluminum foil or something else to prevent too much moisture loss.
So there you have it, my favorite leftover sourdough starter recipes. If you get into a good rhythm, and with a little extra planning, you can make a superb breakfast each weekend (or weekday if you go in late). Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day and with the above recipes it is just that much better. While not technically a breakfast food, banana bread is perfect in the morning with a cappuccino or Chemex pour over.
Anyone out there have any killer sourdough starter recipes? I’d love to hear from you down below! It seems like such a versatile thing you could use it in just about anything from muffins to cakes to cookies. I know there are a few more recipes I’ll have to try in the Tartine series books, perhaps when get tired of eating these golden waffles… Someday.
My starter was donned the name Brutus after trying to get a few of his kin started unsuccessfully. I was just in the middle of reading a brief history of Julius Caesar and the name seemed appropriate for such a stubborn character in my life.↩
After you grate the zucchini into fine little strands press them between two paper towels to extract some of the moisture out.↩