I’m always trying to find ways to use leftover sourdough starter. There’s a lot of discard after a feeding, and it seems like a waste to just throw it away. I’ve made pancakes, muffins, and pizza dough. But by far, the quickest and easiest thing to do with sourdough starter discard is to make crackers.
I’ve posted a pic of the crackers already–they had ghoul faces for spooky food potluck. They are a huge hit with anyone who’s tried them so far. I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe, but the problem with my recipes is that they are all nebulous and “to taste” and “by eye.” I did my best to record some actual amounts for this one though, and since I went to all the trouble anyway, I figured I’d share the recipe with you too.
I make these crackers with the discard that comes from feeding my sourdough starter, which is usually at a 100% hydration level (i.e. 1:1 ratio of water to flour). And my usual proportions for a feeding are 50g of starter, 100g of flour, 100g (same as 100mL) of water. Which means that my discard from a feeding comes in at around 200g (give or take a handful of grams because I’m not super precise when it comes to the starter).
The base of this recipe is just starter + 1/2 the weight of starter in flour + liquid fat. After that, you can add whatever flavorings you want to it. Or not, if you want very plain crackers. The dough is pretty forgiving, so you have room to play. And so far, as long as the dough comes together in the bowl (which might take a couple adjustments), I haven’t had issues with it.
Here’s my current go-to flavor profile. I tried my best to approximate some amounts, but again, outside of the initial starter:flour:fat ratio, everything is to taste and by eye.
This bit is where proportions matter.
- 200g of starter*
- 100g of flour (white or wheat or a mix of both)
- About 1/4 cup of olive oil (or other liquid fat)—for olive oil, this is a little more than 50g if you’re working by weight. But for the fat, it’s easier to just go by volume.
This is where you can kind of do whatever you want.
- roughly 60-100g of sharp cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you want it), finely grated/shredded
- 2 healthy pinches of salt, maybe 1 teaspoon?
- I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt. I note this because this salt is less salty than the same amount of Morton’s kosher salt or table salt.
- A dash of garlic powder
- A decent amount of cracked black pepper
- A good amount of furikake (about 2 teaspoons if you forced me to guess, but I’m less sure about this than I am about the salt)
- Gochugaru, as much as you, your dough, and your friends/family can tolerate
- I like gochugaru for this because it has a sweeter, fruitier flavor compared to regular red chili flakes. You won’t get much heat.
- Aleppo pepper works great too.
I did tell you that my measurements were approximate, right?
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, until everything is well incorporated and the dough comes together into a cohesive lump. The dough should be able to mop up all the dry ingredients until the bowl is relatively clean.
If your dough is too dry, add some more fat or even a little water. If it’s too wet, add a little flour.
Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Longer if you’d like.
You won’t get a lot of activity because the proportion of starter to everything else is pretty low. But you will get some, and you’ll get more the longer you leave it out. It just depends on your timing, your kitchen temp, your schedule, and the texture you want. The longer you leave it, the more it will rise, and the more air your finished crackers will have (Unless you knock it all out in the rolling. Though I’ve found that the crackers will end up a little puffy even if you roll the dough out aggressively. Still tasty. Just a different texture.)
When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees (I use 350 degrees convection) (Fahrenheit, to be specific).
Divide the dough in half.
Roll one portion out as thin as you can get it. At least 1/8 inch, but thinner if you can manage without the dough tearing. I do this on parchment, so that I can easily transfer the whole thing to a baking sheet. One portion of dough covers the entirety of a standard half sheet sized baking sheet.
(The thinness is important for crispness. If you don’t roll them out thinly, they will take longer to bake or will be chewy.)
Poke holes all over the dough with a fork (or a fancy docking tool if you have one). Then score into desired cracker size with a knife. (Or don’t. You can break it apart when it comes out of the oven for a more rough and ready look if you like.)
Even if you aren’t using parchment, you don’t really need to oil your pan because there’s enough fat in this dough that there shouldn’t be problems with sticking. (But if you’re worried, better safe than sorry.) (But also, invest in parchment paper.)
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until crisp and golden. They continue to darken a bit when you take them out.
Try to wait until they are cool before eating them. If you manage not to eat all of them, store in an airtight container.
*If you don’t have as much starter, but want to use the same proportions, no problem! Since my sourdough starter is at 100% hydration, substitutions are easy. For example, if you only have 50g of discard after a feeding, that means you have to make up 150g of sourdough starter weight in the above recipe to keep the same proportions. So just add 75g of water and an extra 75g of flour.
Or, if you don’t have any sourdough starter at all, use 100g of water and 100g of flour as a substitute for the starter. Then continue with the rest.