Sourdough Waffles

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waffle stack

I love baking with sourdough starter. Actually, I’m obsessed with my starter. When my boyfriend asks how my day went, I often include an update on my starter: “Eleanor smells fruity” or “Eleanor didn’t rise as much as I had hoped” or “I fed Eleanor rye flour today.”

A starter is a natural leaven that makes bread and other baked goods rise. Before the development of commercial yeast about 200 years ago, people baked with the wild yeast in fermented sourdough starters.

So, to make these waffles, you will need a starter. If you don’t have one and want to start one, check out my post on sourdough crackers, where you will find a brief tutorial on starting and maintaining a starter, plus some resources.

A few days ago on Twitter, someone told me she felt too intimidated to make a starter. I assured her that it’s not difficult. You just mix water and flour, stir it whenever you think of it over a few days and wait for bubbles to appear. Once it starts bubbling, you maintain it by discarding most of it and feeding fresh flour and water to the remaining starter.

Aside from the fact that these crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside waffles taste buttery, tangy and delicious, I love making them as they use up an entire cup of discarded starter. I can’t bring myself to waste it.

I use this King Arthur Flour recipe with a couple of alterations. You can also use the batter for pancakes.

ingredients
I buy my ingredients in bulk. The egg vendor at the market accepts the cartons back and reuses them. The butter does result in a bit of waste but I refuse to give up butter.

Ingredients

Makes 10 six-inch waffles

Sponge

  • 1 cup unfed starter from the fridge
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I culture my own)
  • 2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat plus 1/2 cup rye for this batch)

Waffle Batter

  • All of the sponge
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

sponge
Let sponge sit overnight

1. The night before you make the waffles, combine starter, buttermilk and flour in a bowl. Cover with a towel or plate and let rest overnight. I like to use a glass bowl for my sponge so that in the morning, I can see the bubbles that have formed overnight. (I find the whole fermentation process fascinating.)

I set up a time-lapse of my sponge, but failed to plug in the camera, so the battery died after about four hours. I was able to capture the sponge rising in the 10-second video above though.

2 sponge

2. In the morning, you should see lots of bubbles as above (this is why I use glass—that looks so cool!). Stir in melted butter and eggs until combined.

4 batter
Batter bubbling up with the addition of salt and baking soda

3. Combine salt and baking soda and add to the batter. The batter will begin bubble up, this time with infinite tiny bubbles.

waffle iron

4. Bake waffles as usual in a waffle iron. For 6-inch waffles, use about 1/2 cup of batter.

I’m not at all a fan of Teflon but I’ve had this waffle iron for ages, well before I started to purge my life of plastic and other materials made of dubious chemicals. I’m not sure what to do about it. I’ve heard those waffle irons you put directly on the stove element don’t work very well. Has anyone tried one?

first waffle
The first waffle was delicious 🙂

Sourdough Waffles 

Makes 10 six-inch waffles

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 1 cup unfed starter from the fridge
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour

Waffle Batter

  • All of the sponge
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

1. The night before you make the waffles, combine starter, buttermilk and flour in a bowl. Cover with a towel or plate and let rest overnight.

2. In the morning, you should see lots of bubbles. Stir in melted butter and eggs until combined.

3. Combine salt and baking soda and add to the batter. The batter will begin bubble up.

4. Bake waffles as usual in a waffle iron. For 6-inch waffles, use about 1/2 cup of batter.

31 Comment

  1. Those look fantastic! Yet another reason to get going on a starter.

    1. Thank you! I hope you will. Starter is such a wonderful culture.

  2. Yummy! And sour dough is so healthy for you!

    1. They’re very yummy. Funny you should mention the healthy aspect of sourdough. I started to write about its health benefits in this post but the post started to get very long. Sourdough has so many benefits, I need to dedicate an entire post just to that. It’s now on the to-do list.

  3. Yum! They sound delicious, I think I will try these as pancakes, as I don’t have a waffle iron 🙂

    1. Good idea! They make delicious pancakes too.

  4. These make my mouth water! Thanks for sharing the recipe! 🙂

    1. You’re welcome. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  5. I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t throw out bits of starter. I am always adding it to whatever I can just not to waste it. The waffles are a great idea.
    I do have an old fashioned, non teflon waffle iron, and it is a drag to clean. As long as you can live with the cooked on grease on it, it works fine. I bought a very pretty one in Russia with beautiful designs on it, but hate to get it greasy. Maybe it’s time to bring it out.

    1. Oh no, I can’t throw out starter. My daughter made bread kvass recently and I was so happy that she used half a cup or so of starter. I keep it in the fridge right now, so I’m feeding it just once a week. But when I left it on the counter and fed it daily, I felt I had a part time baking job. I had to use some every day to stay on top of it.

      I don’t mind cooked grease. That’s better than Teflon. I bet people give those away regularly if they are that difficult to clean. I’ll check Freecycle for one. Thank you for the info 🙂

  6. love the time lapse. and eleanor. haha! maybe i’ll name my starter… and my kombucha mother… the waffles look delicious. will definitely give them a go. 🙂

    1. Thanks! I’d like to make some more time-lapse videos. I have some beet kvass, yogurt and buttermilk I could name. But those are easier to start and maintain, and I’m not as attached to them as I am to the starter. Eleanor and I have been through a lot—dough that won’t rise, dough I fermented way too long, bread I scored with a dull knife and deflated, leaven that fails, but then…a delicious loaf! I would definitely name a kombucha mother though 🙂

  7. Great story with very detailed photos!!! Re: butter. OK, so I know you are a very busy person but when you have some time you could consider making your own butter…I bought a hand-crank churn which is sitting there waiting for me to try out. We get heavy cream in our weekly milk delivery (yup–we’re lucky to have such a thing here in NY!) so I use it for all kinds of stuff. I can let you know how it goes but I thought of you as I was prepping it. I plan to use those glass butter containers to store it–no waste! Second, I also have a nonstick waffle iron but I think even the stove-top one I got for pancakes has some kind of coating, too. Will have to do more research on that…thx for the tips!!!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you liked the post. I have thought about making butter. I read (probably Sandor Katz), that I can ferment the buttermilk leftover from making butter :O That would be so cool. Yes, please let me know how your butter turns out. I’m sure it will be fantastic! You’re so lucky you get milk delivered. I’m looking at a house later this month in the town my mum lives in, but I told my sister I can’t get milk in glass bottles there and that’s a deal breaker :p But I won’t tell that to the real estate agent or she’ll think I’m a lunatic…well, she may think that anyway. I wish I could test-drive one of those waffle irons. I could also just make pancakes and avoid the Teflon. But I love the crispy waffle exterior so much!

      1. Will do! Once the harvest season is over and/if we’re bogged down in more snow, should have *lots* of time for experiments, I mean, recipes! 😉

  8. Wow looks yummylicious. …

  9. Yes! Perfect timing! I will be making these on Sunday morning.

    1. Great! I think you’ll like them 🙂

  10. Hi!
    My starter, Veronica, is growing nicely! Thank you for your post, as this was my second try.
    Questions: Do I discard 80% every time I feed her? Do I put her in the fridge at this point (when I begin feeding) or continue to leave her at room temp until she’s ready for baking?
    And, I’m a little confused on the increased feedings before baking. Feeding once per day does not suffice?
    Thanks in advance!
    Jen

    1. Hi Jen. Oooh, I love the name Veronica. Very pretty.

      So, yes you use only 20% of your current starter to make a new starter. I store the other 80% “discard” in the fridge (or I use it right away) to make these waffles or pancakes, tortillas, etc.

      After I feed my starter I leave her out for a few hours to rise and fall. I then either a) put her in the fridge and leave her there for a week to rest if I won’t be baking that week or b) keep her out on the counter and feed her daily. If you opt for b you get a lot of discard. When I leave Eleanor out, we eat pancakes most mornings. It’s a sacrifice, I know 😉

      As for the frequency of feedings, if I have kept my starter in the fridge, to perk her up, I may feed her a couple of times a day before baking. But if I have her out on the counter, I will feed her once a day in the morning. The night before I bake bread, I will make my leaven, which is basically a giant starter. So technically she does get fed twice the day before baking. Some bakers say you have to feed twice a day. I have even read every four hours (almost like a newborn!). I have tried feeding it twice a day when I’ve left it out on the counter and I haven’t noticed a difference, but I’m not a professional baker.

      I find keeping notes really helps with sourdough baking but I not everyone is as OCD as I am.

      Oh one more thing. I made a slide presentation to try and simplify the process of making a starter. You can find it here: http://wp.me/p4sJ3i-5Oq

      I hope this helps!

      1. It does so much! Thank you!

  11. I’m so excited to make these! I watched Michael Pollan’s documentary “Cooked” several weeks ago and was inspired to make sourdough everything after learning about the health benefits. I love fermented food but I hadn’t even thought about sourdough! My family tries not to eat bread in general but I think I’m going to make this the exception. I made my first starter a few days ago (her name is Dorothy or Doughrothy haha) and she is going strong and looking good! Thank you so much for taking the time to teach and inform about these recipes and health benefits in such a simple user-friendly manner! I have a question, have you ever made anything sourdough, whether bread, waffles, crackers, whatever, using a little barley flour in the mix? I bought some a while back for a recipe and want to put the rest to good use! I’ve heard its properties are similar to rye but I have no experience in the matter.

    1. Hi Hannah. I’m a huge fan of Michael Pollan. I use his recipe for sourdough bread. I love your starter’s name! That’s great. I haven’t mixed in barley flour into anything (I don’t think…) but I have tried buckwheat for waffles and pancakes. It works well and is very nutritious. I imagine some barley flour would work too. I will have to try some. It’s good to have some variety. I hope you and Doughrothy have a nice weekend 🙂

      1. Thank you! I made the waffles this morning, after going ahead and replacing the rye in the sponge with barley, and they were fantastic!! My husband and two-year-old loved them! : )

      2. Yay! Thanks for letting me know the barley worked out 🙂

  12. I’m SO EXCITED to give this a try. I’ve been obsessed with making my own sour dough waffle ever since I tasted it for the first time on a visit to Bouchon Restaurant. It was the ultimate waffle experience and I’m SO EXCITED I can now recreate it for my family and friends at home. Have you experimented with making this using a Kombucha based starter? I ask because I have Kombucha brewing in my pantry and was wondering if it would make a quick starter because it’s filled with happy yeast and bacteria.

    1. I think you’ll like these Ann. They taste delicious. I haven’t experimented with my kombucha in my sourdough starter and have wanted to try. I have heard from a few people who do it and apparently it works well. I need to try it out. My starter needs a little boost. I think I’ve been storing her too closely to my sauerkraut and they don’t get along well.

  13. Hi AM, Thank you so much for providing multiple recipes for discard…I currently have sourdough cracker dough in the fridge…can’t wait to roll it out and bake crackers! I made this recipe last week to make pancakes but I had so much discard (and my kids love pancakes so much), I doubled the recipe. I think that was a mistake, because although there was TONS of little bubbles after adding the baking soda and salt (so exciting and cool), it died off about halfway through. I was only cooking about 3 little pancakes at a time, so I was probably standing there for at least 2 hours lol. Is that not surprising and would you recommend not doubling the recipe? My kids and husband still loves gobbling them even though they are pretty flat. I was surprised they tasted more tangy than the sourdough breads I’ve made (same starter), but maybe that’s because I put extra lemon in my homemade buttermilk…I didn’t want to waste it and I had a little more juice to squeeze out that lemon :). Thanks for everything you do!!!

  14. Oh dear, I really want to love this recipe. But after 10 hours, I had no bubbles at all, even in a glass bowl. it took nearly 24 hours, by which time it was bedtime, and there still were not enough. So I hoped for enough the next morning – no such luck, the batter was back to it’s non-risen height.
    So question: is the buttermilk supposed to be used cold, as the starter is cold, straight from the fridge? That’s what I presumed.
    Then I looked over my notes, and realized, I keep whole wheat flour in the freezer – it was cold, too.
    well, it’s just sitting here looking at me. any chance I can revive all this? More flour or something?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Bonnie. Sorry I have not responded earlier. (I’m on the road.) Is your buttermilk cultured? I think that might be the problem. I use starter and buttermilk straight from the fridge so I don’t think the temperature is the problem. Do you have any dry yeast? If you run into this problem again, you could dissolve a little dry yeast (say 1/8 teaspoon or so) and that should liven things up. ~ Anne Marie

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