Baking with sourdough seems intimidating, but I’m relatively new to the sourdough game and I can assure you — it’ll be worth your time.
Feeding the starter really doesn’t take long and there are so many discard recipes to where you will never have to throw out discard if you plan accordingly.
After using your starter, it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for long stretches of time. When you want to use it, just feed it the night before or morning of depending on your recipe. Also keep in mind that your process will most likely be different than someone else’s.
How do I start baking from scratch?
Just dive right in, invest in quality flour, and figure out which recipes work or don’t work for you. I started by reading The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. It’s a simple process, but there is just something about homemade bread. It was a good introduction to the process of bread making. Bread Baking for Beginners by O’Hara is also a great resource when getting started. Both come recommended by my sister-in-law, a seasoned sourdough baker.
I also tried several different yeast recipes, one of my favorites being a Dutch Oven Bread by Sur la table. Eventually, I attempted to make my own starter but after a few days, my friend offered to give me some of hers and I’ve had it ever since.
After trying recipes from Ballerina Farm and various other blogs, my favorite sourdough boule recipe is from Farmhouse on Boone. Lisa has an informative video on baking that specific recipe — I highly recommend checking it out even if just to get a visual of what each step looks like.
What is sourdough starter?
Sourdough starter is a leavening agent used to make baked goods rise, usually composed of fermented flour and water (some people use buttermilk apparently) that use natural bacterias and wild yeasts from the environment.
As I mentioned above, I’ve never made a starter from scratch. There are various methods so find one that works best for you. If I did try to make starter, I would use whole wheat flour for the first few feedings, then unbleached all-purpose flour.
Feed your starter twice a day until you start seeing bubbles and it doubles in size. Some people will put a rubber around their container right after feeding it as a reference point as to how much the starter has grown after several hours. Remember that it can take up to two weeks to activate, so keep with it.
I recommend using a scale, a container with no lip for easy cleaning, and a spatula. I use a 3-cup glass measuring cup with plastic wrap on top. No need to overthink it!
What are the health benefits of sourdough?
It is nutrient-rich and has a lot of protein, vitamins, and fiber. It is easier for your digestive system to break down and therefore helps keep you healthy. It’s a great source of healthy carbs.
What is sourdough discard?
Any portion of starter that you remove is considered discard. To keep a starter active, you need to remove a portion to allow the bacterias to feed on new flour and water.
It’s definitely possible to not throw away any discard. There are so many good ways to use discard, and I bet some of these recipes will become staples in your meal plans.
1. Pancakes or Waffles
Freeze the leftovers (if there are any) to then toast whenever you need an easy breakfast. Pancakes or waffles pair very nicely with quiche (here is my favorite no-crust recipe; I omit the cream cheese). Our favorite things to put in pancakes are blueberries, chocolate chips, sprinkles, and walnuts. Also we end up with more than 12, so maybe we make them smaller.
2. Pizza Crust
I’ve tried multiple discard pizza crust recipes and this is the winner by a landslide. It takes you to Italy. A classic Margherita pizza is my go-to, and some of our other favorite toppings are onions, mushrooms, and sausage. We are not fans of pineapple on pizza! It should not be a thing.
3. English Muffins
These came out perfectly on attempt #1. They are delicious and so easy. They also freeze very well and thaw quickly. They are delicious with just butter and jam, or as the medium for an egg sandwich.
4. Blueberry Lemon Muffins & Crumble Top
Another easy breakfast item that is also easy to freeze. I used frozen blueberries and didn’t notice a difference in the finished product. My daughter was a big fan.
It may seem intimidating, but making bagels is a really fun process. Favorite topping is everything seasoning! But you can also top bagels with cheddar or asiago cheese, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc. And I’m sure there’s a way to incorporate cinnamon raisin filling.
6. Sandwich Bread
Great for those PB & J sandwiches for the kids or BLT night. It’s much less complicated and faster than making a sourdough boule loaf, but still delicious.
7. Coffee Cake
Need I say more? Pairs very nicely with your morning coffee. I do have to say it’s not one of our most used recipes because it is pretty sugary. King Arthur also has a great coffee cake discard recipe.
8. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
My husbands favorite! They are gooey and delicious I often freeze raw cookie dough balls to have on hand. These also freeze every well — that seems to have been a theme of my post. Enjoy these.
I still have a lot of discard recipes to try — crackers, sourdough rye bread, cinnamon rolls, crumpets, etc. There seems to be a discard recipe for everything. But I have tried all of the above and they are delicious. Feel free to share your favorite discard recipes in the comments.