When it’s time to feed your wild-yeast starter, what do you do with the discarded sourdough? By discarded, I’m referring to the cup of starter you’re supposed to pour out before you feed it to reduce the acidic level and keep the organisms alive and kicking.
Do you throw the excess sourdough in the trash or wash it down the sink? Does the thought of wasting all of that flour (and your energy) make you uncomfortable?
I always had a hard time throwing out half of my starter when it was time to feed it. So I’ve tried different methods for using it up instead of pouring it out.
One weekend, I made six loaves just to keep from wasting it. I took the discarded sourdough, placed it in a separate container and fed it, along with the starter I planned to keep. I ended up with a double batch of fed sourdough starter and more loaves than I knew what to do with.
Needless to say, that was an effort in futility. If you need six loaves of bread, that’s one thing, but I didn’t. My freezer thanked me and so did my friend who likes sourdough bread, but even sourdough lovers can grow tired of a good thing.
I finally found a solution that I really enjoy. Making crackers.
Making sourdough crackers has become one of my favorite ways to use discarded starter because it’s so easy and pretty much failsafe.
You can use any type of starter and almost any combination of flours and toppings for the crackers. You can also vary the type of fat used. Sometimes I use coconut oil and other times I use olive oil. You can even use butter.
I have different sourdough starters for each type of flour that I bake with. At the moment, I have an Einkorn starter, a KAMUT starter, a rye starter, and two white starters – my original starter which is made from a recipe from Boudin Bakery and my apple starter which is made from hazy apples. I keep all of my starters in the refrigerator and feed them as if they were my pets. Well, actually, they are my pets.
When it’s time to feed them, I have a good bit of discarded starter, but now I don’t dread throwing it out. I actually look forward to feeding my starters because I know I get to make (and eat) some crackers.
Sourdough Einkorn Chili Crackers
These are not your average crackers. They are healthy crackers that don’t contain any preservatives. The sourdough ferments the dough for several hours which makes them more easily digestible than crackers made without sourdough.
This batch has a hint of chili powder sprinkled on top to give the crackers some added flavor. You can add extra chili powder if you like more heat.
- 1 cup fed sourdough starter * (I used this Einkorn starter)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 – 1 1/4 cups all-purpose Einkorn flour **
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea salt
- Chili powder, too taste, for sprinkling on top
* This recipe works with discarded sourdough or recently fed sourdough. For the best results, let the starter warm up to room temperature before mixing with the oil so that the oil doesn’t harden and make the dough clumpy.
** Depending on the hydration level of your starter, you may need to add more flour.
1) In a medium bowl, combine the sourdough starter and coconut oil. Add a cup flour, the Sea salt and herbs and mix thoroughly. Add as much additional flour as needed to make a dough that is workable, but not dry.
2) Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a lid to keep it from drying out and let it rest at room temperature for at least 7 hours.
Refrigerate Overnight: Another option is to let the dough rest on the counter for a few hours, then place it in the refrigerator overnight, or until you are ready to bake. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. The dough will harden a little in the refrigerator so when you’re ready to bake the crackers, let it warm up a bit before rolling. If it’s hot in your kitchen, don’t let it warm up too much or it will be too sticky to roll out.
3) Divide the dough into 2 pieces and place each ball on a greased or floured piece of parchment paper, or a nonstick baking mat.
4) Roll the dough out very thinly on the parchment paper. Brush or spray with olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder, to taste.
5) Cut the dough into squares or diamonds using a pizza cutter. I used a pastry wheel to cut the jagged edges.
6) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place one baking sheet (of crackers) on the middle shelf of the oven and the other one on the bottom shelf. Bake the crackers for about 5-7 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets top-to-bottom and front-to-back for even baking. Bake for a total of 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
7) Transfer the crackers to a wire rack. They will shrink in the oven and break apart fairly easily.
For crispy crackers: Let the crackers cool down completely in the oven. If you want to do this in an electric oven, leave the door slightly ajar so the crackers don’t continue baking (and burn) while the oven is cooling down.
Next time you feed your sourdough starter, don’t throw out the excess starter; make crackers with it. You’ll wonder why you never tried this before.