As we enter month seven of quarantine, it’s likely that at some point you’ve set out to make a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread. In doing your research, you probably learned all about the science of sourdough starters, the best flour to use, how to properly ferment your sourdough, techniques for handling your dough, and, of course, how to make your own starter. And, in taking care of that starter, you’ve probably found yourself with a lot of discard.
What Is Sourdough Discard?
Sourdough discard is simply a portion of fermented starter that’s scraped away before feeding. This process is essential to managing the starter and preventing it from overflowing. Though you’ll want to throw out the discard from your starter’s early days, due to its lack of sour flavor and occasionally unpleasant smell, it’s wise to keep some later on in case anything with your primary starter goes wrong. You can also take advantage of its sour, tangy taste by using it in other recipes. To get you started, we’ve rounded up four delicious recipes for waffles, English muffins, scallion pancakes, and crackers that all call for sourdough discard.
With these waffles, the flavor you end up with really depends on your starter—a mild starter will give you a more delicate taste, while an extra sour one will lead to delightfully tangy results. Since the baking powder does much of the leavening, you can use a well-developed starter or one that’s relatively new. You’ll still be left with light and tasty waffles that are ready for a generous drizzling of syrup.
This recipe for English muffins opts for a simple batter instead of a dough. Adding sourdough discard to the batter gives the muffins a boost of flavor that pairs well with cream cheese, peanut butter, and especially melted butter. The key to shaping them on the griddle is using English muffin rings, round metal cookie cutters, or biscuit cutters, but you can always make your own by cutting off the top and bottom of small, round cans.
With just a few staple ingredients and minimal equipment, you can have tender scallion pancakes with crisp edges in no time. Here, we rely on milk to thin out the sourdough discard and create a more crepe-like consistency, and it also provides a subtle sweetness. To balance out the discard’s sour taste and incorporate some savory depth, we add a generous amount of instant dashi to the batter. Once browned to perfection, you have yourself a perfectly savory side or snack.
While plain sourdough crackers are an easy solution to leftover starter, we wanted to make them a little more interesting. Using rye flour in the dough offers a nutty, earthy flavor, while sparkling white wine adds a sweet, fruity kick that contrasts with the sourness of the discard quite nicely. Before baking, we season the dough with a sprinkling of coriander and fennel seeds. The result is a tray of salty, sweet, and crisp crackers that can be broken into whatever size you like.