If you are just getting started with baking your own sourdough bread, you might be wondering what to do with your discarded sourdough starter. Nearly all sourdough bread recipes I've seen, just say 'make sure you feed your sourdough starter regularly, by discarding half of your sourdough starter and replacing it with fresh flour and water'.
That's all well and good, but most people would think that by 'discarding' the recipe means 'throw away'. Sadly that's what some people do, but since I don't like to waste food, I like to use mine into another recipe. I really think it's a shame to just threw away the sourdough starter.
One thing you need to bear in mind is that with some recipes you don't need to adjust the quantities (usually breads, pancakes etc.) but with some (such as cake recipes) you might need to take away a little flour and the liquid equivalent of whatever is in your recipe. If you are adding a very small amount, then it's usually fine without any problems.
If you use your discarded sourdough starter regularly for cakes, it might be a good idea to start feeding your sourdough starter with equal amounts of flour and water. That way you know that if you have 200g of discarded sourdough starter you have about 100 g of flour and 100g water.
Another thing to bear in mind, is that your discarded sourdough starter is made with bread flour, which behaves slightly differently to a cake flours (it has more gluten, so it's stronger and might make the cake slightly tougher).
So, here are my favourite ways of using discarded sourdough starter:
Every Day Bread
Use the discarded sourdough starter in your normal bread dough.If you are adding small amount (say about 100-150g) just add it to your normal bread recipe and use as normally. You don't need to adjust the bread recipe ingredients, you are basically just adding about 50g of flour and 50ml of water (that's if you are feeding your sourdough starter with equal portions of flour and water). The sourdough starter might add a hint of flavour to your bread, but it's not going to change the structure or flavour dramatically. Make sure you use yeast in your bread as the discarded sourdough starter not active enough to raise the dough.
Just adjust the measurements of your recipe or make up a bigger batch! Although the discarded sourdough starter is not active, when the pancake batter hits the hot frying pan, the natural yeast 'awakes' and it creates the most delicious and light pancakes! My favourite flour to mix the discarded sourdough starter is spelt or buckwheat flour. It makes amazingly wholesome pancakes!
Other recipes which work beautifully with discarded sourdough starter:
Crispbreads and Crackers - you can find my own recipe here.
Flat Breads and Tortillas
Brownies - you can find my favourite recipe here
Healthy Pear & Muffin - my own recipe is here
I think that's plenty of suggestions to keep you going! So, if you can, avoid just throwing your discarded sourdough starter away and make it into something extra special.
Have you got your favourite recipe for using up your discarded sourdough starter? That's fab! Please do share it with us in the comments below, I'd love to try some new recipes!
P.S. Here are more sourdough bread baking blogs you might like to read...