One culinary project for this year was to bake my own bread with my own sourdough starter. I have had several tries to cultivate my own starter, however they have not been very successful so far. You have to care for it a little bit like a pet or a plant. It wants to be fed regularly with flour and water. One starter I forgot to feed at some point and another one has gone mouldy. I never baked a loaf of bread from these unsuccessful attempts. So it’s been a lot of flour that has ended up in the bin.
Most recipes for a sourdough starter ask you to discard some of the starter flour-water mix. The authors argued that you would otherwise end up with a volume that would eventually take over your kitchen. I did not question this approach at the previous attempts and discarded as instructed.
This time I was determined to have more success with my starter and was happy to see it was already active after about 36 hours. I followed Justin Piers Gellatly’s method using rhubarb to kickstart the fermentation. After nearly a week of feeding the starter, the recipe asked for taking 30 g of the starter, continuing to feed that but discarding the rest. Eleminating food waste in my home has made me more vigilant to areas where I previously had a blind spot. When I took the 30 g out of starter mix, I looked at the remainder in the bowl and thought it just looks like pancake mix. It made me think: “this is flour and water...why throw that away?” I have never made pancakes with sourdough starter, so I thought I will try that. I got more ideas: savoury crackers, biscuits, scones...isn't it crazy that many recipe writers are telling you to throw it away? I will keep experimenting with this. Since I will continue to feed my starter I will have a lot more to experiment with. Somehow I think it's wrong to call it ‘discard’, because I am not intending to ever throw any of it away intentionally. Maybe we can find a different name for it that will encourage more home bakers to make use of it. For the time being I will call it leftover sourdough starter.
I will try several things over the next few weeks with leftover starter. I am intrigued to find out how it will taste in comparison with regular flour/water (or other liquid) mixes. To begin with I decided to make some savoury pancakes with asparagus, goats cheese and olives for a swift supper. I lo
And I nearly forgot to mention that my first sourdough loaf has been a real success. It's definitely not for the impatient and needs a bit of time management, but it is immensely pleasing to cut into your first home-baked loaf. The dough was a bit wet and difficult to get out of the proving basket and I surely have a lot to learn, but the finished loaf had a wonderful crackling crust and decent crumb that are not so easy to find in many loafs you buy at the shop.
Leftover sourdough pancakes with asparagus and goats cheese
2 cups of sourdough starter
milk for thinning the pancake mix
bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
black olives, pitted
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees fan. Line a baking tray with parchment, spread out the asparagus on the tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix to distribute the oil evenly on every spear. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until some bits are nicely charred and the aspargus is tender.
While the asparagus is roasting in the oven, put the sourdough starter in a bowl and add the eggs. Whisk vigorously to break up the eggs. Gradually add some milk while continuing. You want to have a better that resembles single cream. Season with salt and pepper. Put a tablespoon of olive oil into a nonstick pan and put on medium-high heat. Add about 1/3 cup of the batter and spread out with the bottom of the cup. Cook until there is no raw batter visible on top of the pancake. Flip with a spatula and contnue to cook the other side for another minute.
Continue with the rest of the mix. Fill every pancake with a few spears of the asparagus, crumble some goats cheese on top and scatter the olives over it. Season with salt and pepper. Flip over one half of the pancake so you have a half-moon shape. If you like, drizzle some honey on top of the pancake (I like orange blossom for this). Serve while still warm.