July 11, 2019

Cooking With Sourdough Discard

Sourdough bread's prominence has been on the rise in recent years for a variety of reasons. For one, there's the popularity of fermented foods – sourdough is a type of fermented bread. As such, it has several health benefits, particularly for digestion. For example, sourdough is rich in B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics. What's more, artisanal bakeries have become more popular in recent years, according to BakingBusiness.com. All of these factors have created more incentives for restaurants, delis, bakeries and other types of eateries to pay more attention to sourdough bread.

However, there is one caveat. The process of properly fermenting a starter used in making sourdough bread requires that you "feed" it in the days leading up to its use. Each day, this entails throwing about half the starter away, which ultimately goes to waste. When you're making bread to serve to customers, the volume of discarded starter can add up fast. This flies in the face of modern conservation trends, zero-waste cooking in particular

The good news is that there are a wide variety of sourdough starter discard recipes that can help eliminate waste. Online pastry students who want to be at the cutting edge of conservation can use their discarded sourdough starter in a variety of dishes.

Ideas for sourdough starter discard recipes

Pizza is one of the most classic – and easiest – uses for sourdough discard. With nothing but your discard, salt, some all-purpose flour and instant yeast, you can create a sourdough pizza that will pair nicely with bold toppings and aged cheeses, according to King Arthur Flour. You can also add pizza dough flavor, but that's ultimately a matter of preference.

Also, keep in mind that how often you feed your starter will have an affect on the flavor (and for that matter, how much discard you have). A starter that hasn't been fed for a while will have a more distinct, sour taste – which is great if you're going for that and plan your toppings accordingly. The robustness of sourdough's flavor is a great opportunity to use bolder, more assertive toppings. One idea, courtesy of Serious Eats, is to top your crust with roasted tomatoes, ricotta and lemon zest. 

Sourdough discard can be used to make scrumptious muffins.Sourdough discard can be used to make scrumptious muffins.

Pancakes and waffles are other go-to dishes for chefs who want to put their sourdough discard to good use. For waffles, you'll need to mix flour, discard and water together and let sit in a warm place for four hours or until the mix fills with large holes and bubbles. Once the dough is ready, just follow the instructions in this recipe from Allrecipes. Making pancakes with your discard is just as easy, and it takes even less time. Consider following this recipe from Taste of Lizzy T to make fluffy pancakes that your customers will love. 

There are plenty of other less conventional ways to turn what would otherwise be waste into delicious pastries and baked books. For example, you can make sourdough cinnamon rolls, using this recipe from the Clever Carrot. Another idea is to use your discard to to make a savory focaccia bread. Biscuits, cake, muffins, scones, bread (yes, you can make bread from your discard), crackers and English muffins can also be made from sourdough discard. You can even make your own bagels using sourdough discard by following this recipe from Scotch & Scones.

Some of these recipes may be more suited to your particular restaurant than others. Bur the point is that you can do more with that discard than simply throwing it in the garbage, and your customers will appreciate it. Conservation in the kitchen is more important than ever before. And the ability to put ingredients to good use is just one of many skills that students who study via the online pastry arts program will master.