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Mike's (more or less) Weekly Baking Tips Logo2019-07-28 Discarded Pancakes
No, don't discard the pancakes,
make them with discarded starter!

Many people feed their starters using instructions that say sourdough pancakessomething like, "discard half your starter, now add so much flour and water to the starter you're keeping." These instructions bother people, a lot. It means you're discarding your precious starter and the flour and water you've used to feed it.

Instead of discarding, you might put it in a container and keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. There are many good uses! We make pasta with our excess starter - while you can't taste it, it helps the pasta dough last a lot longer! We should post that recipe, but we're not quite there yet. We also have recipes for Sourdough Blueberry Muffins and a really amazing Carrot Pineapple Sourdough Cake. And then, there are these sourdough pancakes made with discarded starter. We enjoy them, and hope you will too!

This recipe came from the UseNet newsgroup's FAQ and recipes collection. These are excellent resources if you understand one important thing - they are not curated, they are collected. So, there are more ways of starting a starter, or using one, than you can imagine. When I was a beginner, this frustrated me because I was looking for the One True Answer. Now, I realize that there isn't One True Answer. And the collection is valuable for the variety of information, for the disparate voices, it holds. If you go there, and I hope you will, try to remember that even if what you read there isn't the way you did it, or the way your favorite sourdough guru does it, it did work for someone, and worked well enough for them to want to document their processes and procedures.

It is delightful how many pancake and waffle recipes are there! This is one of them. And with no further time wasting ado, let's make some pancakes! I may try waffles Tuesday!


Volumetric Measure (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage
2 CupsSourdough Starter500 Grams217%
3 EachLarge Eggs150 Grams65%
2 CupsMilk480 Grams210%
1 3/4 CupsUnbleached all-purpose flour230 Grams100%
1/4 CupGranulated (white) Sugar50 Grams22%
2 tspBaking Powder8 Grams3.5%
1 tspBaking Soda5 Grams2%
1 1/2 tspSalt8 Grams3.5%

This will make around 28 four inch pancakes.

Put the eggs in a large bowl and beat them thoroughly. Add the milk and sourdough starter. Stir.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Stir the ingredients together with a few swift sure strokes, you don't want Sourdough Pancake Nutritional analysisto overwork the batter - a few lumps are OK. My favorite tool for this is a A stainless steel dough whiskstainless steel dough whisk, like this one from Tovolo. Heat a griddle to 375F/190C. I have to admit I really prefer an electric griddle as they are easier to adjust. You don't want to put too much oil on the griddle, just a light film.

About 1/3 cup of batter will make a 4 inch pancake. Let it cook until the top has bubbles on that open up, then flip the pancake to let the other side brown. Keep them warm by covering them with a tea towel, putting them in a warming oven, or putting them in your oven set to its lowest temperature.

I suggest cooking all the pancakes at once. We made a double batch, cooked enough for breakfast and then went back to the kitchen to cook the rest of the pancakes after breakfast. The baking soda had reacted with the acid in the starter, and the batter was much thinner than it had been 30 minutes earlier. The first pancakes were nice and thick, the later ones very thin.


PS - the nutritional information to the right does not include any toppings you might add to your pancakes, such as butter, jam, jelly, syrup, powdered sugar or what-not.  What's your "what-not" topping?  Whipped cream and cherries?  Bananas and flaming brandy?  Comment below and let us know!

5 thoughts on “Discarded Pancakes”

  1. Hi Mike,
    I started my own starter about two weeks ago using your recipe and it is doing great, it’s healthy and bubbly. Now, this is the first time I am using a discarded starter (which I keep in the fridge) to make pancakes and it seems that all went well, like in your recipe (I followed your recipe all the way through but I used water instead of milk), however, they taste a bit sourer than I expected so I am wondering is that ok?
    Next time I will use hazelnut-milk and I am considering throwing in some more sugar.

    Thank you, Darko.

    1. Hi Darko,
      I’m happy to hear you have a good healthy starter!

      With breads, the sourness comes from fermentation. With discard recipes, the sourness comes from the discarded starter in the same way that adding chocolate chips to cookies makes them chocolate chip cookies. The longer your starter has been sitting alone, unloved and unfed the more sour it will become. I like a bit of sour in pancakes as it balances the flavors of the syrups I use (Maple, ginger and ribbon cane syrup are my current favorites. Sorgum is another I like.)

      However, you can get too much of a good thing. What is “too much” is a matter of taste and we might not agree when we reach that point. You can use a fresher discard. Or less of it. If the discard is too sour, it might be time to put it on the compost heap or otherwise actually discard it and start a fresh collection of discard.

      Another option is to use a bit more baking soda. Baking soda neutralizes acid and causes rise in the pancakes, so they’ll be lighter which isn’t the end of the world.

      One other question is whether the taste is from acidity or if it is an off taste. Unfed starters don’t last forever. If the smell is really funky, you might want to pitch it and start a fresh collection of sourdough discard.

      Good luck,

      1. Thank you for your fast response, Mike, I really appreciate it 🙂
        I am new in all of this so I am hoping to get better using your knowledge and experience as guidance.
        Thank you for sharing it.

        Darko 🙂

  2. Hi, Mike!
    I am sure I can speak for thousands of us lurking online that read and learn from you all the time when I say Thank You Very Much for all your hard work in putting this webpage together! I have learned so much here, and I really appreciate you. Have you used this recipe yet for waffles? I’ve only made the pancakes (yummy!) but I just got a waffle iron and thought I’d ask.
    God bless you and all your family,

    1. Hi Tracy,
      Thanks for the many kind words!
      As for a waffle recipe, you might look here.

      For future reference, there is a search tool on the right side of every screen on the site. Just enter what you are looking for and hit enter.

      Best wishes,

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