These sourdough starter discard recipes provide plenty of ideas for using leftover sourdough starter or sourdough starter discard you may have, instead of letting it go to waste. There are as many sourdough discard recipes out there as there are recipes for sourdough bread. I’ve been researching sourdough starter recipes and over the next weeks I’m going to test them out and report back.
After reading Terence’s post on the recent sourdough backlash and how deeply satisfying he finds sourdough baking, and seeing how low-maintenance his sourdough starter really is – he just adds 50ml of flour and 50 ml of water once a day – and how simple he makes sourdough bread-making look (see his simple sourdough starter recipe and his beginner’s guide to easy sourdough baking), I was inspired to give sourdough a go myself.
As Terence bakes enough sourdough bread every few days for our little household, and we really don’t need two sourdough bakers in the family, I found myself another food project. These cooking projects (Terence’s barbecue series, my Cambodian samlors (soups and stews), Terence’s Cambodian-Australian fusion sausage rolls and meat pies, my mango recipes) and our quarantine cooking more generally, along with our Cambodian cookbook and culinary history research, have really helped to keep us calm and focused during these recent months of uncertainty.
I recalled Terence’s experiments last year with making sourdough pizza as a way to use the excess sourdough starter that he was discarding after feeding his starter each night and reduce our kitchen waste. In that post Terence mentioned other recipe ideas for sourdough starter discard, including “pancakes, waffles, banana bread, crumpets, and pretzels”, so I began to do some research and discovered how many sourdough recipes there were out there.
Sourdough Starter Discard Recipes – What To Do With Your Sourdough Starter Waste
As Terence, who has been making sourdough bread for two years now, has mastered sustainable sourdough starter maintenance and rarely discards sourdough starter after the evening starter feeding, I am now the proud owner of my own sourdough starter, pictured above.
My sourdough starter sits beside my laptop and it’s a thing of beauty. I confess I’ve become a little obsessed with watching it rise and fall, and occasionally sniffing its fantastic fermented aromas. But, no, I have not named it and I won’t name it, as I’m killing most of it each day as I begin to test out sourdough starter discard recipes.
So, if you’re wondering what to do with sourdough starter waste, as most new sourdough home bakers do in the early days of feeding their starter after realising how much they’re discarding, then here are some recipes for sourdough starter waste. They’re the sourdough starter discard recipes that I’ll be making anyway and I’ll be sharing my experiences along the way.
One question that keeps coming up that I noticed while researching sourdough starter discard recipes is how long can you keep your sourdough discard for, so I asked Terence: sourdough discard is what you remove so you can feed your sourdough starter so feed the starter when you plan to cook. If you don’t have time to cook, just start another starter by adding flour and water to the discard and use it the next day. The sourdough starter itself will last forever if you take care of it.
Best Sourdough Discard Recipes
These are the sourdough starter discard recipes that I’ll be cooking up, starting with the first recipe for the easy scallion pancakes I made a couple of days ago, and I’m also sharing Terence’s sourdough starter discard pizza base recipe.
Sourdough Pizza Base
Although Terence, as I mentioned above, is now a master of sourdough starter maintenance and rarely has any sourdough starter discard after he feeds his starter each evening, he used to when he first began baking sourdough bread, and experimented with making pizza bases from his sourdough starter discard for a while there. They were absolutely delicious. Terence’s sourdough pizza recipe makes a no knead long-fermented pizza dough that has a more complex flavour profile than pizza dough made with just commercial yeast. Bonus: you don’t need to knead the dough. You can also get a great puffy crust and crispy pizza even using a domestic oven, which is hard to achieve using commercial yeast alone.
Sourdough Scallion Pancakes
I decided that the first sourdough starter discard recipes I attempted would be for things I really wanted to make (so that meant sourdough bagels and pretzels went to the bottom of the list) and they should be easy sourdough discard recipes so the chance of them failing and me giving up would be low and I would be inspired by my success to continue. The strategy worked! I really wanted to make some authentic Chinese scallion pancakes with the sourdough discard but most of the recipes I found looked a tad complicated so I started testing out some super easy recipes inspired by Korean scallion pancakes and they did the trick. Although the textures were closer to a crumpet, so I’ve tweaked them a little. Here’s my super easy sourdough starter scallion pancakes recipe. It takes ten minutes in total and they’re absolutely delicious. I’m going to use the other recipes I tried to make proper crumpets next! Then I’ll attempt a more complicated albeit more authentic Chinese sourdough scallion pancake recipe, such as this recipe by a food blogger whose mother is Northern Chinese.
I really trawled the depths of the internet for the best sourdough discard crumpet recipes and it was a challenge to find a recipe that resulted in anything that looked remotely like a crumpet. While the King Arthur Flour site has a lot of sourdough starter discard recipes and tops most results for sourdough starter recipes, including my search for sourdough discard crumpet recipes, the ‘crumpet’ in their recipe looks more like an American pancake or large pikelet. Another top recipe looks like an American biscuit with holes in it while another by a French food blogger looks like a fluffy crumpet. Crumpets are not fluffy. Nor crispy. This ‘review’ of the King Flour crumpet recipe on TheKitchn by someone who admits to having never eaten a crumpet (!) is definitely not a crumpet! You do NOT want your crumpet to look like that, trust me. I don’t recommend making recipes by people who aren’t familiar with the dishes for which they’re providing recipes. The only recipe I could find that resembled a proper English crumpet of the kind eaten in England and Australia (which looks like this) is a vegan sourdough crumpet recipe, so I’m going to test that and my scallion pancake recipe without the scallions and I’ll report back.
Sourdough English Muffins
A lot of searches for sourdough starter discard English muffins and the like brought up similar results to my crumpet searches, which is when I realised that most of the top posts that Google was giving me were by American food writers on US food blogs and food sites who actually confessed that they had never eaten an English muffin let alone made one before. Which is when I decided to search directly on UK food sites. There are plenty of posts on how to make English muffins on Delicious, Olive, BBC Food, The Guardian Food pages, the Jamie Oliver site etc., but not a single sourdough discard English muffin recipe. And none of the Australian food sites either. So I will test a few of the sourdough English muffin recipes and post the best here when I’m satisfied I have one that’s close to the real thing
I had no issues finding a sourdough starter discard waffle recipe. If there’s one thing our American friends do know how to make that’s waffles, although waffles are originally from France – or are they from Belgium? While there’s some debate as to whether waffles are Belgian or French (you know, like whether pavlova is from Australia or New Zealand), North Americans long ago embraced waffles. I will need to buy a waffle iron from the market, but I need to do that anyway, as I need to recipe-test coconut waffles for our Cambodian street food cookbook. Cambodian waffles are wonderful, a culinary remnant from the French when Cambodia was part of French Indochina. There was no shortage of recipes for sourdough discard waffles online and I like the look of these sourdough waffles recipes on Serious Eats and Epicurious. I will report back.
I’ve never made a croissant in my life but I like the look of this sourdough starter croissant recipe. Probably because during my first year of university, I worked for a Sydney chocolatier, where I was essentially a barista – although we didn’t use that term in those days – and when I wasn’t making espressos and cappuccinos, I was filling croissants with ham and cheese. I opened the café-cum-chocolate shop early on weekends, often nursing a hangover, so the first thing I did was pop a croissant in the microwave (as I said, the focus was the chocolates). Terence used to bake croissants for a while, so he can help with these. This sourdough croissant recipe on Food52 also looks approachable.
Sourdough Banana Bread
After mango season in Cambodia comes durian season and then banana season, and I can already see the tiny baby bananas growing on the many banana trees in the backyard of our apartment block and our neighbourhood, so this sourdough starter banana bread recipe is definitely on the baking schedule once I near the end of this cooking project. As the bananas downstairs are just beginning to form, I’ll leave this near the end of my list of sourdough starter discard recipes.
Sourdough Chocolate Cake
Of all the sourdough starter discard recipes that I have my eyes on, this sourdough starter discard chocolate cake recipe is one of the ones I most want to make. But I’m going to test these sourdough discard chocolate cake recipes near the end of the project because after two and a half months of staying at home and social distancing, I really don’t need chocolate cake right now. Now that things are getting back to normal here in Siem Reap, I’m going to resume swimming this weekend. So hopefully by the time I get to here, the sourdough chocolate cake will be a nice, well-deserved treat. I’m going to try to get my hands on some Marou bean-to-bar chocolate from Vietnam for this.
I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure I’ll make sourdough starter discard bagels. I’ve never entirely got bagels. I recall buying them occasionally for lunch many years ago when I worked in the city centre in Sydney, as bagels were a thing for a while. But I don’t like the dense texture. I’ve tried them a couple of times since from a popular Siem Reap bakery whose bagels people rave about and each time they simple tasted stale. But I do like the challenge of baking a better sourdough bagel than the best local bakery so I think I’ll give one of these sourdough bagel recipes a try.
Like the sourdough bagels, I’m not terribly confident I’ll get to this sourdough pretzels recipe. Again, I’ve never enjoyed pretzels. I didn’t mind the small thin stick-shaped pretzels that Dad used to munch on with a cold beer or they’d serve when friends came over for drinks, but like bagels, I never understood the appreciation of the large pretzels they like in Turkey and you see being sold on the streets of New York. They just always taste stale to me. But I’d like to give them a go so I’ll just leave this here for now anyway.
If you’re also testing out sourdough starter discard recipes I’d love to know what’s worked for you. Please do share any links to sourdough starter recipes below or tag us on Instagram at @gran_tourismo and I’ll try them over coming weeks – and maybe months. Who knows how much longer we’re going to be social distancing for…
re: the sourdough crumpets.
You say that the crumpet in the King Arthur recipe “looks more like an American pancake or large pikelet” and that the only recipe you could find “that resembled a proper English crumpet” was a recipe on culturesforhealth. But it and the KA recipe are virtually identical.
Lara Dunston says
Hi Scott, those two recipes are not virtually identical actually – same ingredients but different measurements :) Having said that, we ended up coming up with our own recipe, which in terms of measurements is somewhere between the two, so I’ll replace the link above with our own. Thanks for dropping by!
Hello, Lara. The Cultures for Health recipe is for double the number of crumpets as the KA (8 vs 4). Halve it to make the same number and the proportions are as follows:
KA: 1 c starter, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, 3/8 to 1/2 tsp baking soda
CH: 1 c starter, 1.5 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda
All of the same ingredients and pretty darn close in proportion.
Lara Dunston says
Hi Scott, do you work for King Arthur, LOL? Yes, I’m aware they make different amounts of crumpets :) I’ve just checked my notes as it was almost a year ago that we started testing sourdough discard recipes — from early April, just after we went into lockdown and started somewhat obsessively ‘quarantine cooking’.
It looks like KA have adjusted their recipe, as my notes indicate that I tested the lower range of what they currently have and I don’t have notes even suggesting that there was a range. They also appear to have adjusted their Tips :) Amusing definition of “Australian-style pikelets”. Strange they would change the text and still leave that image of the hole-less crumpets up there.
I began my starter about a year ago, after years of half-hearted efforts, and this one has been going gangbusters ever since, a big part of which is due to not forgetting about it in the fridge. Of course, then there’s the “what the heck do I do with all that starter” problem, so I looked for recipes.
I’ve been in a rut for a while now–I have made the KA crumpets a bunch of times (nice as a sandwich with a soft egg and some duck bacon), and have a favorite cracker recipe–but I was looking to change things up, so I found your site and started reading through. I saw what you wrote about the KA recipe and, so when you mentioned a preferred recipe I compared the two and was puzzled.
I originally saved the recipe on Aug 8, 2020 and the current numbers are the same as then. They specify a range for the salt while giving the amount for the baking soda as 3/8, with a note to increase to 1/2 if your starter is particularly sour.
Lara Dunston says
Hi Scott, that’s fantastic to hear you’re on your ‘sourdough journey’. Terence has been making sourdough for a few years now so we’ve been very lucky to eat a new loaf every three days and in between he’s always making something with the discard. As we’re pro food and travel writers of over a couple of decades (currently writing/developing a few cookbooks), we tend to test a lot of recipes and develop our own recipes – which is why we make such detailed notes.
I checked the King Arthur site this morning and it appears they have two sourdough crumpets recipes now – one with some crumpet pics in there with lovely holes, LOL! Looks like the recipe we first consulted has been adjusted a number of times since it was published in March 2020 – including adding that mention of Australian pikelets :) So when I wrote this post in May 2020 we were comparing two different recipes (and not only those two; we looked at many sourdough crumpet recipes), hence why they read/tested differently.
And it’s not unusual for publishers to update posts, especially recipe posts. As we regularly cook a lot of our own published recipes, we will often tweak and refine recipes and update posts. Terence made the sourdough crackers a couple of nights ago and added a little chilli and completely transformed them. They’re so good! You should try those. So I’m going to check that now and make sure he mentioned adding chilli and if not, add thaat. Sourdough scallion pancakes are fantastic too and super easy.
I have to ask: are you related to the treasure hunter who was kidnapped in Columbia and died a couple of years ago? I think we may have met him at the palace-hotel of a retired Italian politician in Calabria when we were researching a guidebook there some years ago. There were a handful of treasure hunters staying. Fascinating characters!