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
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:
- Whole Grain Banana Bread (pictured above) — used 100g starter in place of 50g flour and 50g oil
- Meyer Lemon and Raspberry Scones (a savory twist on this recipe pictured at the top) — used up to 240g starter in place of all the buttermilk and 120g flour
- Favorite Fluffy Pancakes — used 120g starter in place of 1/4 c milk and 60g flour
- Sourdough pie crust — I usually save up discard in the fridge for a couple days to make a batch
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.
- 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.)
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- 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.
- Spread the mixture thinly on a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- 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:
- Sourdough crackers
- Sourdough waffles
- King Arthur Flour — KAF has an extensive sourdough recipe library and many of them use discard starter
- Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More by Sarah Owens — Sarah is a creative baker who uses sourdough in many different ways. Tons of great ideas in this book!
32 thoughts on “Baking with Discard Sourdough Starter”
Hi there – what would you recommend for converting a recipe that calls for instant yeast, active dry yeast or fresh yeast to a sourdough recipe?
Hi — I don’t have a ton of experience with that, but in general I’ve replaced 1 packet of active dry yeast with enough sourdough starter to equal ~15-20% of prefermented flour. Every recipe is different so it takes some experimentation. Hope that makes sense! I think there are some articles on King Arthur Flour about this; I would also check that out!
I just tried making the granola, and I am amazed at how nice it turned out after baking. I thought it smelled too sour as I was stirring the ingredients together, but it is lovely after it’s done. I really like the taste and the way it holds together. Thanks so much for sharing this – I will definitely be making this again!
Sorry for the late reply — just saw this comment! So glad you enjoy the granola! We always have a stash around here too.
I make a batch of granola BARS for my boyfriend and daughter every week and the recipe calls for 1/3cup honey and 1/2cup peanut butter, as well as brown sugar, oil and egg and its becoming quite expensive (i use all natural peanut butter and thus need a new jar twice a month, and unpasturized local honey) not to mention the quantity of fat and sugar disturb me. They LOVE them and I much rather have them eat those than store bought, but when i saw your granola recipe i was thrilled! Do you think i could add an egg and maybe A LITTLE peanut butter to your base recipe and hope to get bars instead of clumps? I bake them in a pyrex dish as a solid “cake” of sorts and then cut them up into bars once cooled. Perphaps your granola recipe might even work as bars on their own? REALLY would love this to work, as it will be healthier, cheaper and a great way to use discard as ive started to keep my starter out of the fridge so i can bake every weekend! Thanks in advance!
Hi! I haven’t tried making these as bars but if you do please report back! I’ve subbed in peanut butter for the oil before and it has worked nicely. This is a crunchy granola so the proportions would require some tweaking if you’re looking for a more chewy bar.
I would love to hear how your granola bar experiment went. I have a batch of the granola (as per the recipe) in the oven now, but would loooove to have some bars in the house. I’ve just started making sourdough, and cannot bear to toss any starter discard.
They turned out quite crumbly with the discard added in, more like muffin texture than granola bar, However, I use 1.5 cups a week of discard every week on other things! we make discard crackers and discard pancakes and they are a hit in our house! The pancakes AND cracker recipes are on the King Arthur Flour website as mentioned above!
Consider using Adams Peanutbutter. It’s made with 99% peanuts and 1% salt. tgats all. No sugar or hydrogenated vegetable protien (ie crisco). They use quality nuts so sugar is not necessary. and without ‘crisco’ it does separates and requires hand stirring but that burns calories so no guilt. I’ve eaten it for decades and live it.
Hi, I was wondering why no one ever recommends making bread with the discard? I know you’d have to add yeast, and it wouldn’t have the tang of sourdough, but it could be done, right? I’ve made pizza dough and pancakes and waffles and I’d like to make something savory again.
It’s certainly possible; I think King Arthur Flour has several discard sourdough bread recipes on their site. Since I make a lot of bread with my fresh starter I usually look for non-bread things to make with my discard. 🙂
So! I am reporting back of sorts! I did not make the granola bars with this recipe, but subbed some of the oil and peanut butter in the recipe I did have for some discard and it worked really well! I think it’s all about keeping the proportions of liquids to solids, so go ahead and play with whatever recipes you have and use up that starter!! ♥️ that said, I’ll probably make this granola soon!
Is it safe to bake/cook with discard from a starter that isn’t fully mature yet?
I think it’s safe but I don’t think there’s really any benefit to it.
Is there a recipe for the green onion biscuits in the picture?
Hi! Please see my response to Marina! 🙂
Dear Ruth, I would like to try your savory scones with sourdough but I don’t find a recipe on the blog.. How do you modify your Meyer Lemon and Raspberry Scones recipe to make them savory like those in the picture? Thanks in advance for our answer!
Hi! To modify for savory I would reduce the sugar to 1 Tbsp, omit raspberries and lemon zest, and mix in up to 1 c total shredded sharp cheese (low moisture) and chopped chives or green onions. And sprinkle more cheese on top if you want before baking!
Thanks a lot for the quick reply Ruth! 🙂
Could you sub the brown sugars for a natural sweet – applesauce/honey/maple syrup or omit the sugar?
If this is regarding the granola, I wouldn’t sub the initial brown sugar in the starter for a liquid or the mixture will be too wet. For the sweetener in the final mix, I’ve used honey, maple syrup, and agave successfully (have not tried applesauce). The granola is not too sweet to begin with so I wouldn’t recommend completely omitting the sugar — though it is a matter of personal preference!
Are you able to sub 60g more sourdough starter for the 30g each of flour and water?
You could try, though letting the mixture sit helps dissolve the sugar. It also expands and bubbles a bit which helps bind the ingredients, so you may need to add a little extra oil/liquid sweetener to help coat everything. If you try it please let me know how it works!