World’s Best Pancakes: starter discard rescue recipe

pancakes1For the home baker who keeps a sourdough starter, every time you feed that starter you have to reduce the quantity or face possibly ending up with an Olympic sized pool’s worth of starter.  When you are baking maybe three loaves a week, and even if you refrigerate the starter for a week or two, excess starter is a reality. So what do you do with this excess? You would rather not just toss it in the garbage and definitely not down the drain (unless you enjoy keeping your plumber’s wallet well padded) so what’s to be done?

Well, PANCAKES are one delicious and easy way to use this extra starter up.

For anyone who wonders if there’s something better you can do with that extra quarter cup of flour that may go into the compost bin each time you feed your active starter, here’s an AMAZINGLY YUMMY pancake recipethat you can make using your excess starter (when it’s not going to making loaves, obviously). Simply save up a couple of feeds’ worth of excess starter and when you have enough, in this case about 1/2 cup for ~8 pancakes or waffles, mix up a Saturday morning breakfast batch of pancakes. Even if it’s Tuesday night; nuthin’ wrong with pancakes for dinner. After all, pancakes are really just another form of bread but with some egg added.

If you haven’t accumulated  a half cup of starter (full cup for a double batch) but are looking for pancakes tomorrow morning, just take your current excess and build it up to about a half cup when also you feed your starter tonight. Your “excess” starter will then be ready to use in the morning.

Sourdough Pancakes or Waffles
Serves 2 to 4
(about 8 pancakes)
95 g (3/4 cup) flour*
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
122 g (1/2 cup) milk
1 egg
145 g (1/2 cup) extra*¹ sourdough starter
28 g (2 Tbsp) melted butter
Serves 4 to 8
(about 16 pancakes)
190 g (1½ cups) flour*
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
245 g (1 cup) milk
3 eggs
290g (1 cup) extra*¹ sourdough starter

56 g (1/4 cup) melted butter


  • Sift together first four (dry) ingredients into a bowl.
  • Beat eggs and milk together in a separate bowl. Whisk in sourdough.
  • Add wet to dry ingredients, mix just until well incorporated.
  • Let rest about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, turn on oven and off as soon as it gets to 90-100 ºF (should only take a couple of minutes), set a plate in oven to warm.
  • After 10 minutes, gently mix the melted butter into batter.
  • Spoon out and cook on hot griddle or waffle iron. Add a bit of milk if batter is too stiff.
  • Stack finished pancakes onto plate in warm oven while finishing the rest.
  • Serve with butter, syrup or your favourite toppings.

* You can use All Purpose flour or a mix of All Purpose and Whole Wheat if you wish.

*¹ “extra” refers to either accumulated excess/discard starter you’ve collected for a bit or even “fresh” excess you made just yesterday. I often feed my starter more than normal the day before I plan on making these pancakes so I have a full serving of starter ready to use.  Do not, however, use the discard from a starter you’ve just made from scratch; at this early stage (first 1 or 2 weeks), you risk adding very questionable beasties. Toss this into the compost; you’ll have lots of excess soon enough once the baby starter gets going fully.

FOR WAFFLES: Use just under 1/4c batter each but your particular waffle iron will dictate how much you will need.

FOR EXTRA FLUFFY WAFFLES: Separate egg yolks and whites. Beat yolks with milk and add with sourdough to dry ingredients. Let rest; add melted butter then fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake in a hot waffle iron or on a griddle.

9 Replies to “World’s Best Pancakes: starter discard rescue recipe”

  1. Will have to try this! 🙂 Thanks for sharing and also the tip about discarded starter has really clarified things for a newbie trying to figure this all out. Cheers.

    1. Hi PP, I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the pancakes. Give the waffles version a go sometime too (separate the whites and fluff them up) for a wonderfully light batter. Even if you don’t have a waffle iron, you can make light, fluffy pancakes.

  2. Pingback: Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Sourdough Pancakes - Skye's Life
  3. What is a good sourdough starter to use. I feel like i’m having a hard time finding a good one.. I like things really sour.

    However I’m going to try this tonight with my early sourdough starter.

    1. Jen:
      For the pancakes, I use leftover sourdough from regular feedings where I don’t use up the excess in bread baking. This is sort of the point of the recipe: what to do with your excess sourdough. Make your own starter (see the post “Starter From Scratch” for instructions); you don’t need to “find one”. You can then control how sour it is – or not – by how you keep and feed it.

  4. If using a mix of unbleached and whole wheat flours, should the whole wheat be hard or cake and pastry?

    Can buttermilk be used (made from buttermilk powder)?

    Thank you.

    1. Hello Carol,

      The WW flour could probably be either, as long as the bulk is “regular” flour so you aren’t too low on gluten, which cake and pastry flours avoid. Gluten is what helps trap the little air bubbles, in this case from the baking soda.

      As for using buttermilk, go for it, wether from a carton or made from powdered. The acidity is going to help activate the soda.

      Hope you enjoy them!

  5. Thank you for a fantastic recipe! Family loved it! The fluffiest pancakes ever. Substituted vegetable oil for the butter just because it was easier than having to melt the butter.

  6. Thank you. This is a keeper! I made blueberry pancakes with this recipe today and they were excellent and I was able to use some of my sourdough discard…..I hate to waste it. I used my white flour starter, and white hard whole wheat flour. So nice. I like the two amounts for the recipe too. Today I made the small recipe because I’ll not have time to make them again for a few days, but when I do have time, I’ll make the larger recipe and have them 2 days in a row. Loved them! (we use real maple syrup and homemade butter)

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