In the fervent heat of summer, turning on the kitchen oven might be the last thing you had planned this week. And for some (not me!), the thought of baking a full-on loaf of sourdough bread feels like an even further stretch. But fear not, there are many other outlets for your sourdough starter, and these sourdough starter waffles come together so effortlessly you might find yourself making them just as often for dinner as for breakfast.
Adding a bit of your ripe sourdough starter—“ripe” meaning when it’s well-fermented and you’d normally give it a refreshment—to this waffle batter brings with it all the flavor built up through lengthy natural fermentation. In fact, this is one of the tenets of bread baking: Use a pre-ferment (in this case, our starter) to bring flavor into your bread dough right out of the gate. With waffles, this addition brings a subtle tangy kick that balances all the sweet syrup, fruit, and cream you can throw at them.
I make these sourdough waffles almost every weekend. Sometimes I’ll use half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour, sometimes a mix of einkorn and spelt, and sometimes a mix of cornmeal and wheat—there are endless possibilities, all equally delicious. To make these weekly waffles easier, I keep a jar in my fridge where I collect my sourdough starter discard throughout the week. On the weekend, I’ll empty the jar and use all the discard with this recipe. Most of the time, I’ll double the quantity of waffles, too. This way, I can freeze a batch of waffles in a bag and pop them into the toaster throughout the week, when mornings are short and hectic.
What’s also wonderful about these is they work equally well for brunch or dinner as they do for breakfast. If you want to go the savory route, leave out the called-for sugar and top the waffles with any combination of thinly sliced green onions, feta cheese, sunny-side up eggs, bacon, fried chicken, avocado, and the list goes on.
This recipe will work well in any waffle iron or waffle maker. The one I use (and used for the images you see here) is a NordicWare Stovetop Belgian Waffler that’s cast aluminum—similar to this one. It gets ultra hot and gives these waffles a thin but crunchy crust. —Maurizio Leo
Test Kitchen Notes
The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer-turned-bread expert (and Food52's Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather on a lot of butter. Today, a guide to making magic—and an excellent breakfast—with your sourdough discard. —The Editors
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 4
(2 cups) lowfat buttermilk
(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
(1/2 cup, stirred down) ripe sourdough starter
water, used to thin the batter if needed
(2 teaspoons) sugar
(1 teaspoon) sea salt
(1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar (if making a savory waffle, omit this), sea salt, and baking soda. Whisk everything together.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, melted and cooled butter, sourdough starter, and the eggs. Whisk everything together until homogenous.
- Preheat your waffle iron or waffle maker. If using a cast iron or aluminum waffle maker, be sure to lightly grease it with oil to ensure the waffles do not stick.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk everything together until only a few small lumps remain (it’s OK if the mixture isn’t completely smooth). Use some of the reserved water to thin the batter if necessary; if you maintain a liquid starter you might not need any of the water. However, if you maintain a stiff starter or your flour is especially “thirsty,” add some water, a little at a time while mixing until the batter loosens up. In the end, it should pour from a spoon but not be runny or soupy, somewhere around loose honey rather than cold milk.
- Cook the batter in your hot waffle iron until done to your liking.