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discards for the win

Recipe: sourdough waffles

Our floor lamp in the great room is on an automatic timer. I generally try to have it come on a little after sunset, when the skies give up their light at the end of each day. We’ve been doing this “chasing the sun” schedule for nearly 13 years now, but I still feel a boost of giddiness when I get to start setting the timer for later each day. It’s not that I don’t love winter, because I do love it very much. I just think with a little over 3 weeks left of official winter, I’m looking forward to spring backcountry skiing, longer days, and hopefully some big ass spring storms to replenish that high country snowpack. In the meantime, we are dutifully logging our ski days as best as we can. And Neva is definitely happier for it.

little neva lives for the dog-friendly nordic trails

happiest pup on the planet

When I first read the care and maintenance instructions for my starter, Wheatley, I thought there was a typo. It said to take a small fraction of the starter, feed it, and discard the rest – either in the trash or the compost, but don’t pour it down the sink as it could grow and clog up the pipes. Discard? Food? I soon understood that keeping it all would be an exercise in madness. In an effort to reduce waste, I began to take the very smallest fraction (5 grams) of starter for feedings before bread-making and save the discard in the refrigerator for things like delicious, fluffy waffles.

starter discard

flour, starter discard, eggs, butter, baking soda, salt, sugar, buttermilk

Waffles and pancakes are a great way to use up discard or unfed starter. This recipe uses a cup of discard and easily doubles if you want to freeze waffles or pancakes for quick breakfasts on weekdays. It does require a little planning, which may present difficulty for the non-planners, but the rest of you will be just fine. The night before you make waffles (or pancakes), stir the discard, buttermilk, flour, and sugar together in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter overnight at room temperature. That’s called the sponge.

combine the discard, flour, sugar, and buttermilk

cover with plastic and let sit out overnight

By morning, the sponge should be larger and a little bubbly. This is good. Now you’re ready to start making waffles. First beat a couple of eggs in a bowl or measuring cup. You can use vegetable oil or melted butter – I chose butter, naturally – but if you use melted butter, do let it cool enough so it doesn’t cook the eggs when you stir them together. Slowly incorporate this buttery egg mixture into your sponge. If you stir too enthusiastically at the start, the butter mixture can slosh out of the bowl and possibly onto you. When the batter is mixed, stir in the salt and baking soda.

the sponge will have expanded and there will be some bubbles

add cooled melted butter (or oil) to the eggs

stir the butter mixture into the sponge

add salt and baking soda

I used to make waffles in an electric waffle iron until I needed a Belgian waffle iron for a client shoot. The one I purchased is a stovetop Belgian waffle iron (made by NordicWare – this isn’t an ad) and I love it because it’s easy to use, easy to clean, and stows away smaller than an electric appliance. Those big pockets hold lots of fruit, syrup, butter, whipped cream, whatever you load onto your waffles! One batch of batter gets me about 5 full 8-inch square waffles or 6 lazy waffles (when I don’t try to get the corners filled). [Also? I just went to Amazon to look up the dimensions of my waffle iron and saw the egg waffle pan. I did not know this was a thing. WHY DIDN’T YOU PEOPLE TELL ME?!]

cook your waffle according to your waffle iron’s instructions

crisp outside, fluffy inside

a stack of four (we ate the fifth one)

We are completely sold on these waffles. They are better than any waffles I have ever had in a restaurant – and I’ve enjoyed some really good ones. The wonderfully crisp exteriors, super fluffy interiors, and the yeasted flavor are the perfect combination. I can’t wait to try a batch with huckleberries in the batter! So if you’re distressed over starter discard, make a batch or two of these delicious sourdough waffles and freeze any extras for your future self.

piled with berries

sourdough starter discard makes the best waffle

Sourdough Waffles
[print recipe]
from King Arthur Flour

overnight sponge
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
2 tbsps (25g) granulated sugar
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup (240g) sourdough starter, unfed/discard

overnight sponge
2 large eggs
1/4 cup melted butter (cooled) or vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Mix the sponge the night before: Stir down your refrigerated starter to release any air bubbles. Measure out 1 cup of the starter. [At this point, you can feed the remaining starter if necessary.] Mix the flour, sugar, buttermilk, and 1 cup of sourdough starter together. Cover with plastic and let rest at room temperature overnight or 8-12 hours.

Make the waffles: Uncover the sponge. Beat the eggs and stir in the butter (or oil). Stir the mixture into the sponge. Add the salt and baking soda to the batter and stir to combine. Cook your waffles according to the waffle iron instructions or make pancakes with the batter as you desire. Makes 4-6 Belgian waffles or a dozen 8-inch waffles or 2 dozen medium pancakes.

To freeze: Allow to cool completely. Layer with a sheet of wax paper and place in gallon ziploc bags. Freeze for up to a couple of months. Reheat in a medium oven (350°F) until outside is crisp.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

waffles huckleberry waffles sourdough bread raspberry buttermilk pancakes

12 nibbles at “discards for the win”

  1. Hande says:

    The discard was one of the reasons i sent my soursough to rest. I just couldn’t keep up no matter what i did. Your waffles look really delicious, though. Another use for discard is (if you are looking for one) crumpets!

  2. Jill Hyde says:

    I can only imagine how good the pancakes taste! Those waffles are gorgeous. TPH is drooling! Love the Neva pics!
    xoxo, jill

  3. Maaike says:

    I’ve never had any discards making sourdough (I do always forget about it after a few weeks, and than I have to start over again, but that’s my own fault ;)) maybe you just start with to much flour?
    I always start with just a tablespoon of flour, add water until it’s sort of a thick batter, than feed it once every day until it’s ready to use (just add flour until the dough is almost kneadable, and than water again until it has the original thickness)
    When I use it I just continue the same pattern with the leftover sourdough, using it once or twice a week (for bread or pizza) is enough to keep it going for me without having trow anything away.
    I use about 5 to 6 tablespoons of sourdough for a bread (500 grams of flour) the amount doesn’t really matter that much in my experience because the sourdough doesn’t always have the same strenght anyway, so if the dough doesn’t seem ready I just let it rise in a warm place for a little longer (usualy it takes about 6 to 8 hours)

    I have to admit that this is not the official way to do it, but it’s how my father always did it, and it works just fine.

  4. Charlie Ralph says:

    I love the idea of using the discard!

    These sound good, will take waffles over pancakes any day.

    Do you have anymore recipes using the discard?

  5. Charlie Ralph says:


    Do you have a recipe to share, or suggestions how to do this with a regular recipe.

  6. Rose says:

    Years ago I got our son-in-law a sourdough starter for his birthday. He came across this recipe for waffles and it’s been our favorite ever since. I think melted butter is preferred over vegetable oil in this recipe. And buttermilk with sourdough results in fantastic flavor. Since we are just two in the house, it’s a good day when I make these waffles. One each for breakfast and the rest get frozen for other days.

  7. Nabeela says:

    February was supposed to be my month of sourdough experimentation but I got sidetracked by Indian food. I will have to bookmark this for when I finally get to my sourdough creations. Thank you for posting ideas for fppd that’s normally discarded!

  8. Hande says:

    Charlie, i used to use this recipe: – i never got rings btw, freestyle always worked for me.

  9. Steve says:

    Jen…you’re slowly chipping away at the mental block I have on making bread/sourdough, etc. I’ve never done it but have always wanted to! Now I’m thinking about how great those waffles would be with some good NH maple syrup. I’ve been eagerly looking forward to Spring here too. Going to collect some spruce tips to make that simple syrup!! (Side note: My boyfriend calls you “spruce tip lady” haha)

  10. farmerpam says:

    Wowza, these look good, and I’m not a “waffle” person.

  11. jenyu says:

    Hande – Thanks for another idea, I hadn’t thought of crumpets! Also, I love Clotilde :)

    Jill – I’m sure the pancakes are terrific, I just happen to prefer waffles because they have nice crisp outsides!

    Maaike – I’m learning that there is a lot of flexibility to the starter, but I still don’t mind having “discard” because it makes other great things like these waffles! The only thing is to be careful not to use it up and have no starter left :)

    Charlie – I haven’t blogged other discard recipes, but I have been searching for some others to try. Apparently there are rolls, biscuits, crumpets (as Hande shared), and other yummy things to make with discard! Try searching King Arthur Flour’s website, they have several suggestions.

    Rose – Definitely butter! :) How cool of you to get your SIL a sourdough starter!! <3

    Nabeela - Good luck and I hope you make beautiful things with your starter xo

    Steve - Ha! The spruce tip syrup wasn't my idea ;) I got it from Hank Shaw and it turns out just about every real forager makes spruce tip syrup (maybe because they are waiting for mushrooms to come up). Are you making your own NH syrup? I have friends who are boiling theirs now!

    farmerpam - I wonder if I could convert you with these waffles? ;)

  12. Steve says:

    Jen – True but that was the first recipe/adventure of yours I ever told him about and it stuck. We aren’t making any syrup this year but are enjoying a bunch from his uncle’s operation. Dark amber, rich and delicious!

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