I’m finally getting back into sourdough after a long hiatus. Not only is it delicious, of course, but the sourdough process does this fermenting goodness to the grain that is so healthful.
If you’ve developed a sourdough starter yourself, you know that while building it up, you have to discard part (usually half) of the starter at the time you add more flour and water.
If you don’t, you’d end up with about a gallon of starter by the end of the building-up process, which, unless you are on a mission to singlehandedly sourdough the world, is way too much starter.
But what do you do with the discards? Putting it into the trash is not only sad and wasteful, but gloopy, messy, and smelly.
For the first couple of discard days, I smeared the sticky dough on to a cookie sheet and baked it as a treat for the chickens.
By about the third day, it was starting to smell pretty good and sourdough-y. Still, out to the chickens it went.
The next day, it smelled so good baking, I snapped off a piece and tasted it. Yum. Needed salt, though, and the texture was a combination of too chewy and, in the case of the edges, burnt. I don’t watch my baking-for-chickens oven very closely.
By the next day, I’d found an actual recipe for discarded starter crackers. Add an extra cup of flour, a quarter cup of butter (I used oil instead), herbs and salt, and bake it up.
Here’s the original recipe. Following is my version, with a few tweaks I did to simplify the recipe.
Sourdough Starter Discard Crackers
1 cup flour (I used whole grain Einkorn freshly ground in the KoMo but wheat or kamut or rye or most any grain would probably be fine)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup tasty olive oil
up to 2 Tablespoons of your favorite dried herbs (I used red pepper flakes, basil, Penzey’s shallot pepper, and zatar)
Blend all ingredients together, kneading the herbs in by hand if necessary to combine well.
Divide in half and roll one half out directly onto your baking sheet.
Roll the dough pretty thin.
Sprinkle with additional herbs and/or flaky sea salt. Score with a pizza wheel or a knife.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on it. When the outer crackers are starting to get nicely browned, turn off the oven, but leave the crackers inside. Leave for a few more minutes, checking periodically, until they are the perfect doneness. How browned you let them get is a personal preference. You can let them get completely browned or less so, just don’t forget about them.
When you take them out of the oven, they will practically slide off the pan into your loving arms.
Repeat the rolling and baking, etc., with the other half of the dough.
Then go make a long-simmered winter soup to go with them.