Sourdough pie crust

apple pie with sourdough crust

If you’ve hung around this site much, you probably know that I’ve got a thing for sourdough. Most often I use my sourdough starter to make bread — both crusty and soft — but I’ve been known to sneak it into things like chocolate cake and crackers. Repurposing “discard” (the portion of starter that is typically thrown away at each feeding) into something delicious is a challenge I really enjoy — not just because it reduces waste, but also because starter can add deeper flavor to so many baked goods! And pie crust is no exception.

Adding sourdough starter to pie dough is fairly straightforward. I’ve based this recipe on my go-to all-butter pie crust (which is in my book) by replacing all the liquid and part of the flour with ripe/discard starter. Since this recipe calls for a decent amount of starter, I usually save up a few days’ worth of discard in the fridge before making this crust. Since the starter isn’t for leavening, it doesn’t need to be at peak readiness as if you were mixing bread dough. As long as it still looks bubbly and isn’t overly soupy or acrid-smelling, it should work just fine. (I generally try to use my discard within 5-7 days.)

I’ve used sourdough pie crust for both sweet and savory pies and galettes. The starter adds a lovely depth of flavor. I don’t find it sour at all (though this will depend on the health/taste of your own starter!). It bakes up a little more tender than my regular pie dough, but is still plenty flaky as long as you handle it correctly (namely keep your ingredients cold and don’t overwork the dough!).

sourdough pie crust unbaked
A few notes:
  • I keep a 100% hydration (equal parts flour and water) starter, which is what I use for this recipe. I’ve never had to add any extra liquid, but if you keep a stiffer starter (or live in a drier climate) you might need a touch of ice water or milk to help bind your dough together.
  • Make sure your starter is well-chilled before using it to make pie dough. I like to measure it out and refrigerate it for at least a couple hours before mixing.
  • In general, I like to keep my butter pieces fairly large when making pie dough, especially if I’m going for maximum flake. I find it’s especially helpful when making sourdough pie crust since you have to work the dough a little more than normal to incorporate the starter.
  • When you first add the starter to your dough it may seem like it won’t incorporate. Avoid the temptation to add liquid or knead — just fold the mixture over itself and it should eventually start coming together.
  • The folding in step 4 is optional, but I almost always do it for extra-flaky and easy-to-handle dough.
  • You can halve all the ingredients to make a single 9″ pie crust, but I always make a double batch to maximize my time in the kitchen. Pie dough freezes incredibly well, and having a couple batches in the freezer stash makes me feel like a baking ninja: I’m already halfway to an awesome galette or pie!
Have crust, make pie!

Once you’ve made this sourdough pie crust, use it your favorite sweet or savory pie or try it in one of these recipes:

Sourdough pie crust

Makes enough for one double-crust 9″ pie | Adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

  • 250g flour (I typically use 125g all purpose and 125g whole grain such as spelt, whole wheat, einkorn, or rye)
  • 1 1/2 tsp (6 grams) kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal brand)
  • 2 Tbsp (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 250g ripe or discard 100% hydration sourdough starter, cold (see notes above)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Scatter the butter over the top. Use the pads of your fingers to flatten the butter pieces, tossing them with the flour mixture so each piece is coated on all sides. The butter pieces should remain fairly large, about the size of walnut halves. Work quickly so the butter remains cold.
  2. Scrape the sourdough starter over the flour-butter mixture. Use a flexible spatula to fold and mash the starter into the flour-butter mixture. Once the starter is well dispersed, use your hands to continue folding the dough over itself, giving the bowl a quarter-turn between folds, until there aren’t any dusty bits of flour remaining on the bottom of the bowl and the dough just holds together when you squeeze a bit in your hand. (Depending on the consistency of your starter and the humidity of your environment, you may need to add a drizzle of cold water or milk to bring the dough together; but I usually don’t need any.) You should still see visible pieces of butter—this is a good thing! Fold the dough over itself several more times, giving the bowl a quarter turn after each fold, to make a cohesive but ragged mass.
  3. If the dough is still cool to the touch at this point, continue on; if it feels at all soft or sticky, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before continuing.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a roughly 13-inch (33-cm) square. Brush off any extra flour and fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Fold into thirds again so you end up with a roughly 4.-inch (11-cm) square. Roll into a 3/4-inch (2-cm)-thick rectangle twice as long as it is wide and cut in half. Wrap each half and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day. (The dough can also be frozen at this point and defrosted in the fridge overnight before using.)

Sourdough Crackers: Lavash and Grissini

sourdough lavash

Crackers are a popular food in our house. My kids love them. They’d probably eat crackers for dinner if they could (or anything else labelled “snacks” for that matter). So while everyone else is whipping out their royal icing and cookie stamps, here I am over here making sourdough crackers.

Don’t get me wrong — there will be plenty of cookies happening in our house too. But right now, I’m just having a little too much fun with crackers! They are actually quite fun to make with kids, too. The dough is easy to handle and roll, and my son never gets tired of adding “sprinkles” to things (even if they’re sesame seeds instead of sugar).

sourdough grissini

This sourdough cracker formula can be used to make either lavash crackers (a crisp flatbread) or grissini (thin, crunchy breadsticks). Leave them plain with just a sprinkling of flaky salt, or add seeds / spices to add texture and additional flavor! (Just be careful with dried herbs and spices as a tiny bit goes a long way.) You can even sprinkle on some grated cheese or knead some into the dough. My favorite cracker flavor combo is smoked paprika, garlic flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, black pepper, and a little flaky salt. Yum!

These sourdough crackers are tasty on their own, but also make a great addition to a nosh or charcuterie plate. They keep well, so make a few batches now to have on hand for your holiday entertaining needs!

sourdough crackers plate

sourdough crackers plate 2

A couple of notes:

  • This is a flexible formula for sourdough crackers that you can easily scale depending on the amount of discard you have. I usually save discard in the fridge for a few days, then bake off a large batch. The easiest way to scale this recipe is as follows:
    • Weigh the amount of starter you have
    • Add half that weight in flour (so if you have 200 grams of starter, add 100 grams flour)
    • Figure out how much flour you have total, including the flour in your starter (100 grams from the starter + 100 grams added = 200 grams total flour)
    • Add 2% of the total flour weight in salt (2% of 200 = 4 g)
    • Add 10% of the total flour weight in olive oil (10% of 200 = 20g)
    • Add 10% of the total flour weight in honey (10% of 200 = 20g)

    (I tried writing this out in baker’s percentages; but since there’s a bit of disparity over how to express starter in a formula, it ended up being more confusing than helpful. So there you go. Mathing for the day over.)

  • The baking temperatures and timing on these crackers are just a guideline and may vary considerably depending on your oven and how thinly you roll or cut your dough. If you like your lavash more like a flatbread (softer), pull it out sooner. If the edges are crisp but the middle needs more time, take out the sheet and carefully trim off the edges, then return the sheet to the oven finish crisping the rest. For grissini, you want more of a “low and slow” approach — you’re basically trying to dry the dough out without the breadsticks burning, so you need a lower temperature + longer bake. Experiment and find out what works best for your oven!
  • For more baking with sourdough discard ideas, see this post.
  • For a DIY Raincoast Crisp recipe, see this post (you can sub in 1 cup of starter for 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup buttermilk if you want!).

Sourdough Crackers: Lavash and Grissini

Makes about one baking sheet’s worth of crackers

Ingredients:

  • 100g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 50g flour (I like a mix of bread and wholegrain)
  • 10g olive oil
  • 10g honey
  • 2g salt
  • Assorted seeds (poppy, sesame), spices, and/or flaky salt for topping, if desired

Method:

    1. Stir together the starter, oil, and honey until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix with a spatula until a rough dough forms. Knead for 3-5 minutes, or until the ingredients are well combined and the dough is smooth. It should be a medium-firm consistency and not sticky. (If it is sticky, add flour a tsp at a time until smooth, If it is dry, add water a tsp at a time until hydrated.) Transfer to an oiled container.
    2. Ferment the dough at room temperature until it is doubled in size, about 3-4 hours. (Note: you can also refrigerate the dough for a few hours at this point if you aren’t ready to bake yet. Not sure how long it will hold, but I’ve held mine for about 8 hours and it probably could last longer. No need to bring to room temp before proceeding.)

For lavash crackers:

  1. When the dough is nearly ready, preheat the oven to 400F (with a baking stone if you have one). Turn the dough onto a Silpat or piece of parchment paper cut to fit a baking sheet.
  2. Roll the dough into a rectangle as thinly and evenly as possible. It should be almost paper thin. (Alternatively, you can divide the dough into portions and use a pasta machine to roll them out. I like to get them down to the 2nd-thinnest setting.)
  3. Transfer the dough, still on the Silpat or parchment, to a baking sheet. Dock the surface all over with a fork to keep it from puffing in the oven. Mist with water and sprinkle seeds / spices / flaky salt if desired.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking, until browned and crisp. Cool on a wire rack, then break into shards and serve. Keeps well in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

For grissini:

  1. When the dough is nearly ready, preheat the oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. If you’d like to coat your grissini with seeds, place the seeds on a plate or small baking sheet.
  2. On a nonstick mat or lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle between 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick. Cut dough into even strips into desired thickness (I like 1/8″ – 1/4″ inch). Roll them one by one in the bed of seeds, if desired, then transfer to the prepared sheet. If you like, you can hold one end of dough while twisting the other to get a corkscrew effect.
  3. Bake until dry and crisp, about 30-40 minutes (but can vary wildly depending on the size of your grissini). Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container or jar.

Baking with Discard Sourdough Starter

sourdough scones

I feed my sourdough starter twice daily most of the time, which means I end up with a fair amount of “discard” starter. Now, I’m not the most ambitious discard user out there (i.e. I don’t mind composting it), but lately I’ve been trying to incorporate it more often into some of my “normal” (read: non-sourdough) baking. So if you’re looking to up your discard game, here are some ideas to get you started. If you have any favorite discard recipes to share, please leave them in the comments — I’m always interested in more ideas!

Adding Sourdough to Quick Bread Recipes

sourdough banana bread
Replacing some of the flour and liquids in quick bread (including scone and pancake) recipes is one of the easiest ways to use up discard starter. You don’t even need a specific “sourdough” recipe. Since starter is, essentially, flour and water, all you have to do is measure out the amount of starter you want to use and subtract that amount in flour/liquid called for in your recipe.

Say, for example, you have 100g of starter you want to use up, and your recipe calls for 225g of flour and 100g of water. If your starter is 100% hydration (equal parts flour and water), simply subtract 50g of flour and 50g of water (100g total) from your recipe and use starter in its place (I typically whisk it in with the wet ingredients). This is definitely easiest to do if you are baking by weight, which I highly recommend (this OXO digital scale is definitely my most frequently used kitchen appliance).

If your recipe doesn’t call for water you can replace another liquid instead — say milk, juice, or even oil. Just keep in mind that these ingredients contribute more than just hydration to the final product (i.e. sweetness, flavor, fat) so you may not want to replace all of it.

Note: When I use sourdough in these situations it’s purely for “less waste” reasons — not for leavening. I still keep the chemical leaveners (baking soda/powder) in. My starter is refreshed pretty often and is quite mild, so I don’t really detect any “sourdough tang” in the final product (maybe a little in pancakes). But if your starter has been sitting in the fridge for awhile or is especially acidic you might have different results. Finally, you’ll also need to experiment with the amount of starter you can sub in for your individual recipes. For quick bread loaves I usually sub around ~20-25% of the flour weight; higher percentages tend to lend a bit of a “spongy” texture in my experience, but it really varies with the recipe.

Here are a few recipes on CTD in which I’ve successfully used discard starter:

Sourdough Granola

sourdough granola

Making granola one of my current favorite ways to use up discard because it’s so easy and and flexible! This formula/guideline is largely inspired by my Instagram friend Fumi. The starter basically acts as a binder so you end up with a nice crunchy, clumpy granola (my favorite kind!) without having to add too much sweetener or fat.

Preferment:

  • 100g sourdough starter (100% hydration; can be straight from the fridge)
  • 30g water
  • 30g brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 30g flour (AP or whole grain)

Mix and ferment for 3-8 hours. (Fermenting isn’t necessary but I typically let mine ferment for at least 3 hours.)

Final mix:

  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 160g rolled oats (not instant)
  • 70g raw, unsalted nuts (roughly chopped if large)
  • 50g mixed seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin, millet, sesame…)
  • 20g honey or maple syrup
  • 15-30g neutral oil (I like grapeseed)
  • Mix-ins: Dried fruit, cacao nibs, crystallized ginger

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients except for the mix-ins in a large bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients (honey/maple syrup and oil) into the preferment, then pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix to combine.
  3. Spread the mixture thinly on a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for ~45 min, rotating pan halfway through. If the granola is browning quickly, turn the oven down to 275 or 250 halfway through baking. Turn oven off and allow to cool for ~30 minutes, then break the granola into pieces and return to the turned-off oven to cool completely. Add mix-ins once completely cool and store in an airtight container.

Other recipe ideas

Here are some other recipe/resource ideas for using up sourdough starter discard: