Waste Not, Want Not: Baking with Sourdough Discard

Have you tried baking sourdough yet?  A dear friend of mine started exploring sourdough baking a few winters ago and when I visited her we would demolish her baked goods. Sarah explained the sourdough process to me in detail and I quickly became obsessed. Being a great friend, Sarah shared her starter with me, which I promptly killed.

Sourdough starter
Image from King Arthur Flour

Fast forward a year or two and my knitting buddy Laurel sent me some of her starter to try again.  After reading about how to care for this new member of the family (I call my starter "Laurel" in her honor), I started experimenting with different bread recipes.  Although my first loaves were coming out ok, I wasn’t super excited about them. 

Luckily there is an incredible bakery right here in Trumansburg that teaches classes on the art of sourdough baking (as well as baking pastries, pretzels, and even how to start your own bakery!). People travel from all over the country to take classes at Wide Awake Bakery by the brilliant Stefan Senders and his crew.

My class at Wide Awake not only gave me the knowledge to bake a fabulous loaf, but the confidence to know that I could handle any problems that came up. After the class I was empowered and motivated, and my bread is consistently fantastic! I now bake every week, and purchase my flour 25lbs at a time from my local mill, Farmer Ground Flour.

Class at Wide Awake Bakery
    Image from Wide Awake Bakery

Now that you have the backstory, let’s get to the recipes! These recipes are specifically for sourdough discard; the bit that you remove from your starter when you feed it. Not sure what I mean? Read more about the process of caring for your sourdough starter.

I hate throwing out even tiny bits of my sourdough baby (or any food at all honestly), and it turns out there’s tons of great ways to use the discard!

Olive oil crackers are a great example of this. Have you ever made crackers before? Me neither! Using up the discard has helped me branch out and add new things to my repertoire that I never would have tried before.

I love adding za’atar in for extra savory goodness, and I use a pasta roller to get the dough super thin.

Olive oil crackers
Photo from Love and Olive Oil

For the buttery cracker lovers (I mean, who isn’t), this recipe from King Arthur Flour makes a great basic cracker that you can get creative with. I love adding smoked paprika and hickory smoked salt from Savory Spice Shop.

Buttery sourdough crackers
Photo from King Arthur Flour

When you hear “English Muffins,” do you think of the shelf-stable ones of your childhood? I always did too. The homemade version is a completely different animal, and I think you’ll never look back once you try them. They make the best egg sammies! I even bought a set of round biscuit cutters that I also use to cook the egg so that it fits on the muffin perfectly (because I’m like that!).

A good hack for this recipe if you don’t have a griddle, is to cook these on a panini press and just leave it open.

Sourdough English Muffins
Photo from King Arthur Flour

Sourdough pear pancakes!?  Yes please.  These need no explanation.

Sourdough pear pancakes
Photo from Food52

Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake, is a great base for whatever veggies you have on hand.

Japanese sourdough pancake
Photo from Du's Doughs

Bryan Ford of Artisan Bryan is a new favorite source of recipes (including this incredible focaccia!). I love his basil infused grissini.

Sourdough grissini
Photo from LA Times

Once you start looking you’ll find there are so many amazing recipes that can incorporate your sourdough discard! Muffins, pitas...basically any kind of bread you can imagine!

If you bake with sourdough starter, please do me a favor and add your favorite sourdough discard recipes in the comments! You can help me make this an valuable go-to resource for all of us.

Happy baking!

More resources: 

Toast and Jam by Sarah Owens

New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford

Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman

Comments

  1. Thanks for these recipes, Laura. I plan to try quite a few of them.

    I find Breadtopia.com to be a great resource as well.

    Here are a few recipes from them using discard:
    https://breadtopia.com/scallion-pancakes-with-sourdough-discard/
    https://breadtopia.com/sourdough-biscuits/

    Hope you enjoy!
    ....Ellen

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    1. Oh! Thanks! Those scallion pancakes are right up my alley! And look at this babka recipe, what a great resource!!!
      https://breadtopia.com/savory-sourdough-babka/

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  2. Thank you for sharing. I love using sourdough and need to start anew.

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    1. It is a fun project... especially when you are at home and have time to slow down and savor the process!

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  3. I have had great luck with King Arthur Baking for sourdough recipes. My current favorite for using sourdough discard is https: kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/sourdough-pumpkin-spice-bread-recipe. A really spicy, tangy version of pumpkin bread, filled with raisins and walnuts!

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    1. Oh, I made the pumpkin bread recipe once, and forgot about it! Will have to revisit it! YUM!

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  4. I started baking sourdough a while ago, even made my own starter by fermenting grapes. Then life happened and i stopped for a while, last March, with some extra home time, I happily found my sourdough groove again! Discard is always an issue/happy problem. King Arthur flour has a whole section of discard recipes, and their crackers are also great, but I can't wait try Laura's. I also seem to have an issue/happy problem with leftover cheese, so I actually found a recipe that I've made a few times to use up discard and leftover cheese, they reminded me of cheezits or little fish crackers - which i must admit I do like! Just not all processing, so making my own...yum! https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a105247/sourdough-cheese-crackers/

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  5. Thanks for this. I love sourdough bread! Does anyone have a good recipe for one that is similar but gluten-free? We have celiac disease in our house.

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    1. I know there are some out there but I haven't stumbled across any as we are very gluten centric over here! Hopefully someone in the know will post! I could google it, but I think we want a vetted source!

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  6. This is my favorite sourdough discard recipe. It makes for a quick and delicious dinner. https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/corn-and-scallion-sourdough-pancakes-recipe

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    1. Oh, we made that last spring and I forgot about it! YUM! Try the Okonomiyaki recipe above! If you like scallion pancakes, you'll like that!

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    2. I’ve made it as well and it is delicious!

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  7. Crumpets!! These are so easy and so addictive. I don’t make them too often because I eat too many. https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/sourdough-crumpets-recipe

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  8. Sourdough pizza crust! https://www.sourdoughhome.com/sourdough-pizza-made-with-discarded-starter/

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