Starter for ten…

In the January Foodini Club Postal Club packs we got our young chefs experimenting with creating their own sourdough starter to grow yeast and watch how the teeny organisms ferment flour!

To keep a starter active it needs regular feeding with new flour and water, so you have to remove some to do this and the bit you remove is called discard. If you’ve joined the sourdough scene these past months/years then chances are you’ve worked out some ideas for what to do with your discard whether you scoop it out of the starter either on a daily (if keeping your starter in constant use) or perhaps weekly/bi-weekly basis (if you keep it in the fridge and make more occasional bread).

Perhaps you’re new to the game or maybe you’ve been throwing the gloop away all this time…but did you know there are a wealth of ways to use up the discard in often quick and easy (and tasty!) recipes you can whip up in minutes? Here are a few of our favourites…

1. Seedy crackers

This is our most common way to use up the discard and we like to have a regular supply of these crunchy morsels for quick snacking and easy lunches through the week…

The method is a little rough and ready but the general approach is to take your starter, add a little flour and water (around 2-3 tbsp of flour – I use rye or spelt usually and 2 tbsp water) and leave for 30mins until it starts to bubble up a bit (and come to room temp). Then mix in sea salt, a little olive oil (approx 1tbsp for approx 100g of starter) and a whole load of mixed seeds… You could try any combination of the following:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed (both whole and crushed)
  • Poppy seeds (white and black)
  • Sesame seeds (white and black)
  • Millet seeds

And then add your optional extras for flavouring:

  1. Black onion seeds (a favourite in our house)
  2. Fennel seeds
  3. Caraway seeds if you like an aniseed flavour
  4. Cumin seeds
  • Mix enough of the seeds into the active starter to make it form a sticky loose ball – you don’t want it to be too stiff but instead be able to spread it once on the baking sheet. We use more sunflower seeds to bulk it up if needed.
  • Spread into a thin layer on a silicone baking sheet on top of a flat baking tray, or on a sheet of baking paper. Spread out firmly and try to not have any gaps/holes until it’s just a few mm thick.
  • Bake for around 30mins @160C fan/180C oven before flipping the whole cracker with a spatula and baking a further 10mins.
  • Remove from the oven when it’s a uniform golden brown and leave to cool before snapping into pieces as you like.
  • Store for up to 3-4 weeks if they keep that long – ours are usually gone in a few days!

2. Sourdough pancakes

If you’re a fan of a fluffy ‘American’ style pancake then look no further than the sourdough pancake. It’s somehow got more substance than a regular pancake with that edge of sourness to the flavour. Here’s one of our favourite recipes to make using discard:

Sourdough peanut pancakes
  • Approx 150g sourdough starter
  • approx 3 – 4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk – we use oat milk but you can use dairy/plant milk
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs/3 small (swap in 1 mashed banana or flax eggs if egg free)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup/light brown sugar
  • 1 cup/130g flour – use plain or spelt flour as you wish
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Simply mix the wet ingredients into the starter until combined, then sift in the flour and baking powder plus a pinch of salt. Leave to sit for 20mins before frying 1-2 tbsp of the batter in an oiled pan at a time. Flip when you see bubbles forming and popping on the pancake surface and fry both sides until golden brown. Serve warm!

3. Sourdough crumpets

The trick to a good sourdough crumpet is reeeallllly oiling the rings well before pouring the batter into them! The mixture is easy enough to make but if the batter sticks to the side of the rings when rising you will get solid rather than fluffy crumpets. Trust me, it’s happened to us all…

  • 150g sourdough starter
  • 60g flour (use plain or spelt)
  • 60g water
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • olive oil for oiling the rings (you ideally need 3 inch crumpet rings or metal rings that sit flat on a frying pan)
  1. Mix together the batter ingredients and let sit for 10mins.
  2. Heat a heavy bottom frying pan and oil the rings really well. Sit the rings inside the pan.
  3. Drop approx 1 tbsp of batter inside each ring and let it settle. It rises up a lot when cooking if the rings are oiled so you don’t need much more mix than that…
  4. Leave on a low heat to cook, watching as bubbles form and pop on the surface. Wait until the surface has turned an off-white matt texture and the bottom should be golden brown.
  5. Push or slide the crumpets out of the rings, flip and cook on the other side for a few minutes until golden.
  6. Serve warm and with your favourite toppings!

4. Sourdough banana bread

When making your usual banana bread recipe, throw in some discard with the wet ingredients for added bite and depth plus it acts as a sort of yeast to help the bread rise! It works a treat.

Guide ingredients (you might want to adapt or use your own recipe)
  • 250g flour (spelt/white/gf or a combination of your favourite flours)
  • 0.5 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 100g brown sugar or maple syrup (or a combination of the both)
  • 120g butter or vegan butter, or vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • approx 200g sourdough starter
  1. Mash bananas in a big bowl
  2. Mix in melted butter/oil, vanilla, sugar/syrup and eggs
  3. Mix in sourdough starter until combined
  4. Sift in flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt. Fold into banana mix until smooth.
  5. Pour into a lined bread tin and bake at 180C for approx 50-55mins, until a sharp knife or skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Cool and serve! Keeps for up to 4-5 days at room temperature in a sealed container, or freeze for 1 month.

Other ideas…

Try using your starter to make granola bars or granola – use to combine the oats, nuts and seeds before baking, cooling and crunching up!

Sourdough cookies…sourdough brownies …sourdough blueberry muffins… the options are many! What else can you think of to make with your starter?

x Laura