April 10, 2018
If you have a jar of sourdough starter bubbling away in the fridge, it can be put to work for more than just a crusty loaf of bread. In fact, there’s no need to toss half when you feed it (which is typical in order to prevent it from taking over your kitchen) — the discard starter can be used to start a tangy batter to make waffles (or even pancakes) the next morning. The waffles are unbelievably crisp and light, and reason enough to get a sourdough starter going in the first place.
And yes, you can make them tonight for tomorrow morning: the starter is stirred together with buttermilk and flour and let to stand on the countertop overnight, feeding the starter and allowing it to feed and ferment as you sleep. The next morning, there’s hardly anything left to do to make some of the best waffles you’ll ever eat — reason enough to put a pot of coffee on and invite a few friends over. The tangy waffles are delicious topped with fresh berries and pure maple syrup, and can be frozen to reheat in the toaster later in the week, when there’s less time for breakfast.
These cook up crisp and light, with a tang that pairs well with berries and maple syrup. Adapted from the King Arthur Flour website.
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil or melted butter
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
In a large bowl, stir together the starter, buttermilk and sugar. Stir in the flour, cover with a tea towel and let rest on the countertop overnight.
In the morning, whisk together the eggs and oil, then add to the sponge along with the baking soda and salt, stirring well to combine.
Cook in a preheated waffle iron until golden and crisp. Serve immediately.
How to make your own sourdough starter
Although getting some starter from a friend does give you a kick-start, it’s not necessary. To make a starter from scratch, all you need is some flour, water and time to lure those wild yeasts into action. Some start with rye, whole wheat or all-purpose flour - I’ve always had success with all-purpose flour, which is ideal for starting white loaves as well as adding to grainy ones.
A pretty basic formula is 4 oz each flour and water, by weight — if you don’t have a scale, this is a scant cup of flour (stir it up to aerate it first, so it isn’t packed down, and aim for about a cup minus a tablespoon or two) and a half cup of water. Stir the two together to make a paste and stick it in a jar or other non-reactive container, lightly covered, on your countertop. After a day it should begin to bubble; if not, don’t sweat it — just start feeding it and wait to see some action.
The first week, you’ll need to split and feed it every day for 4-5 days. Each day, discard half, leaving about 1/2 cup (4 oz) starter, and feed it with the same formula: 4 oz flour and 4 oz water (or 1 scant cup/1/2 cup). You divide it first to a) keep it from taking over your kitchen, and b) keep the ratio of starter to new flour-water paste the same so that the existing yeasts have enough, but not too much, to eat. Stir and let it sit. After a few days it should start to bubble and even look foamy, and smell clean and yeasty, even vinegary. If you like, give it a week to get good and strong before making your first loaf.
Once your starter is alive and well, you’ll need to keep on feeding it. If you keep it out on your countertop, it will need to be fed regularly — once or even twice a day, if you’re using it regularly. To slow it down, put it in the fridge — it will only need to be fed once a week. If you neglect your starter, don’t sweat it too much — if looks inactive and has a layer of liquid sitting on top, don’t worry about it — either pour it off or stir it in (I stir it in) and feed it as usual to bring it back to life. Now, get baking!
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