Bread Maker Series: Baking with Your Starter Discard

As you feed your sourdough starter (see my first post on cultivating a sourdough starter), the process of feeding requires that you discard a good amount each time you feed (sometimes this is more than half of the starter by volume). When you are cultivating your sourdough starter, you should throw your discard away. Once it is active and ready to use, you can continue to throw your discard away, OR it can be used in a variety of delicious (leavened and unleavened) recipes, too. Again – if you use the sourdough discard before it is active, you can get indigestion / stomach discomfort. I wouldn’t recommend utilizing inactive starter discard.

I keep my excess starter in a separate bowl in the fridge and try to use it within a week so that it is still fresh smelling, although its activity for leavening decreases each day it sits. Many recipes that use sourdough starter discard add a leavening agent, such as baking soda or yeast.

At this point I’ve used my sourdough discard to make a rustic (traditionally leavened) loaf of bread. This was not a huge success, but I’ll try again, I’m sure. I’ve also made English muffins, pizza dough, crackers, waffles and soft pretzels. I’ll share the recipes I used and how they went in each case. I also have a growing list of discard recipes I’d like to try – including some that are curious – like brownies. Please note, too, that I include a styled photo of the recipe from the source side by side with a photo of my experience. Figured I’d give you a reality check on what it might look like the first time you make it!

Top: Photo from the King Arthur website.
Bottom: My baking experience – not great!

RUSTIC LOAF WITH STARTER DISCARD: Recipe via King Arthur Flour. This was my first recipe using sourdough discard and to be fair, my starter may not have been active enough yet. I figured since the recipe also used yeast that it’d be foolproof, but few things are. I’ve exposed my weaknesses with yeast, so there was a lot of room for user error here. This bread has the sourdough flavor AND the benefit of coming together in just a few hours (rather than at least a day) so I would like to perfect this recipe with a future attempt.

Top: Image from Jonesin’ for a Taste.
Bottom: My experience was a little burnt, but still yummy.

ENGLISH MUFFINS WITH STARTER DISCARD: Recipe via Jonesin’ For a Taste. My first attempt at ever making English muffins was a success taste and texture wise (they’re really bland, but so are all English muffins) but I wouldn’t suggest serving these without a really flavorful topping like jam or honey. I cut them with a biscuit cutter, so they were on the smaller side than they should have been and burnt them a bit on my cast iron skillet. These finishing touches can be improved in a future trial. I had been feeding my starter exclusively white flour the week I made this, so they were on the whiter side. I think this improved the taste dramatically.

Left: Image via In Jennie’s Kitchen.
Right: My experience with a whole wheat dough.

PIZZA DOUGH WITH STARTER DISCARD: Recipe via In Jennie’s Kitchen. I’ve made homemade pizza dough many time before (my favorite way to prepare it is in my bread machine). I had been feeding my dough more whole wheat flour that week and the taste did not translate well to pizza dough. I also left the edges far too thick and they poofed up and were quite doughy. I’d try this recipe again with white flour, and would roll the dough thinner.

Left: Image from Love Ya Brunches.
Right: My experience with whole wheat dough.

CRACKERS WITH STARTER DISCARD: Recipe via Love Ya Brunches. This recipe was delicious! I wish I’d had more dried herbs on hand, I definitely need my pantry to be a bit better stocked next time. These were easy to make and slice, though I wish I had a pretty cutter to give them ruffled edges. I totally blanked on poking the crackers with a fork before baking so they did puff up, but they were still delicious nonetheless. Mine were made with a whole wheat mixture, so the coloring is darker.

Left: Image via Back to our Roots.
Right: My experience!

WAFFLES WITH STARTER DISCARD: Recipe via Back To Our Roots. I fed my starter one extra time mid-week to make sure I had enough starter to prepare these. A new household favorite for sure! We used white flour to feed our starter this week, I didn’t think a whole wheat waffle sounded all that appealing. My husband ate his with syrup and I enjoyed mine with peanut butter, a bit of honey, banana and cinnamon. Ours aren’t as fluffy, but the waffle iron we used is a bit more shallow. Overall, super happy with the texture and flavor. I loved that you can prep the batter the night before and quickly prepare in the morning.

Left: Image via Baking Sense.
Right: My experience.

SOFT PRETZELS WITH STARTER DISCARD: Recipe via Baking Sense. These were made with a white flour fed starter and were super flavorful. The hardest part about making these successfully was rolling them out. The dough was a bit too sticky for me to roll out to the proper length, so instead of having the lovely traditional pretzel shape, mine were sort of blobs. They did taste delicious however! We enjoyed ours with some whole grain mustard that we got as a housewarming present. At the time I thought it was a super random gift, but now that we’re in quarantine and it gives me a reason to eat pretzels, I’m all for it.

Other Discard Recipes I’d Like to Try:

Sourdough Biscuits

Sourdough Pancakes

Sourdough Brownies

Sourdough Coffee Cake

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