It took a long time for me to master sourdough starters. I’ve spent years trying out lots of recipes and trying to find one I love. Some of them have flat out not worked. Others appeared to work but just didn’t get the sour taste or function long term.
But I’ve had one going for about a year now that I love. I only use it once every week or two, so it lives in my fridge rather than on the counter, and I generally only feed it when I use it. It often has a layer of “hooch” on the top because its been underfed and it doesn’t always look particularly great. But it’s still a sourdough starter. And it’s still working. And I barely have to maintain it. So I call that a win.
I love making sourdough bread, but it is a lengthy process and often I would rather make my 90-minute bread just for ease’s sake. I will sometimes make a sourdough loaf or two on the weekend, and it’s always really delicious. But I felt I needed to make more with my starter to warrant feeding it regularly, so I started searching around for ideas on other things to make with it.
And I hit a goldmine. Did you know you can make sourdough pizza, pancakes and even cake? There are some amazing ideas out there! But my favourite by far has to be sourdough waffles.
These are beautifully soft, fluffy and delicious. The perfect weekend breakfast loaded with yogurt and nut butter and banana or fresh berries with a tiny drizzle of rice syrup to top it all off. Or make them savoury with spinach and melted cheese topped with a poached egg. They are really versatile and stand up to strong flavours.
And they are unbelievably easy. Once you have an established starter, you can make them every week without flinching. They are so simple, within a few waffle breakfasts you probably won’t even need this recipe any more. And with just a minute’s prep before bed, they’ll take just a few mins to put together in the morning!
How to Make a Sourdough Starter:
DAY 1: Mix 25g rye flour with 25g white bread (strong) flour in a large bowl or jar. Pour in 50g (weigh it rather than measure in ml) of warm water. Mix well until completely combined. Cover loosely with a lid or tea towel and leave out on the counter.
DAYS 2-4/5: Each day, add another 15g of each flour and 30g warm water, mix and leave overnight. The starter is ready to use when it smells fruity and sour and bubbles have appeared. This should be around day 3-5, but can vary depending on room temperature/time of year/part of the world/etc.
DAY 5/6 and beyond: You should have a bubbly, slightly sour smelling starter now. You can use your starter for bread or other recipes (like this one) after feeding (as above) and leaving overnight so it is “active”. If you use the starter every 3 days or so, you can keep adding 25g of rye flour, 25g white bread flour and 50g warm water everyday and just use 1 cup (250g) every 3-4 days and replace the starter used with the 25g of each flour and 50g of water for that day. However, if you do not use your starter that often, you will probably need to discard about 1 cup (250g) of starter every 3-4 days and replace with the day’s flour and water mix. If you are not going to use your starter for more than a week, give it a double feed (50g each flour and 100g water) and leave it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Bring it back to room temperature, feed and leave overnight before using it again.
If you feel like something has gone wrong with your starter and aren’t sure whether to discard and try again or if you might be able to save it, I have found this link to be really really helpful. On the whole, I have found that sourdough starter is surprisingly resilient. It has a reputation for being high maintenance, but I have actually found it to be anything but. Several times I have thought it’s ruined, only to be able to restore it completely and keep it going!
A yummy, super easy recipe for sugar free sourdough waffles to make with your sourdough starter. This is our regular Saturday morning breakfast - it's just so simple, and we all love it, whether it is served with nut butter, yogurt and fruit or topped with wilted spinach, melted cheese and a poached egg. Play around with your own favourite sugar free toppings to find what you love best.
- 1 cup (250g) sourdough starter (see recipe above - I just get it straight from the container in my fridge that I "feed" about once a week when I make these waffles)
- 1 cup (140g) flour
- 1 cup (250ml) milk kefir or buttermilk (you could also use plain full-fat milk with a squeeze of lemon or yogurt)
- 1 tsp rice syrup
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup (50g) butter or coconut oil, melted (I actually prefer coconut oil, but you can use butter if you wish)
- 1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- pinch of salt
Mix the starter with the flour, kefir or buttermilk and rice syrup. Cover the bowl loosely with a tea towel or cling film, and leave overnight.
In the morning add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and make the waffles straightaway on a hot waffle iron.