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So how goes your sourdough starter? Is it alive and bubbling? Have you named it something creative? Have you discovered exactly how many hours it takes your starter to reach its peak after feeding?
Yeah, I’m not to that point yet.
Even though I’ve tried quite a few sourdough recipes, I’m still learning the ins and outs of making and tending a sourdough starter. Although my starter has a few good bubbles, it lacks both a name and the ability to make bread rise on its own consistently.
Fortunately, I found a recipe that I can make even when my starter is cold and inert. My sourdough discard bread takes all the guesswork out of starters and lets you enjoy artisan-style bread with minimal work.
I particularly love this recipe because it minimizes waste, too! You don’t have to throw your sourdough discard in the trash before feedings. Instead, you can mix it with some yeast, water, flour, and boom! Beautiful bread that you can brag to your friends and family about.
Sourdough discard bread is tasty and versatile. It’s slightly tangy because of the sourdough starter, but the tang is faint enough that you can pair it with a variety of flavors. Want to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Perfect. Need something to dip in clam chowder? You got it.
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Rise time: 3 to 4 hours
Cook time: 40 to 45 minutes
Total time: Approximately 3 Hours 55 minutes to 4 hours 35 minutes
Here’s what you need to make sourdough discard bread:
- 230 Grams (1 Cup) Warm Water
- 4 Grams (1 1/4 Teaspoons) Dry Active Yeast
- 230 Grams (1 Cup) Sourdough Starter Discard
- 9 Grams (1 1/2 Teaspoons) Salt
- 8 Grams (2 Teaspoons) White Granulated Sugar
- 300 Grams (2 1/2 Cups) All-Purpose Flour*
*If you want to make this recipe with bread flour, you can! The original recipe I found recommended using the same amount of bread flour and instant yeast as listed above.
Keep in mind that you’ll want additional flour for sprinkling and you may need to adjust your total flour depending on the consistency of your starter. My starter follows a 1:1 ratio of flour to water, using all-purpose flour. I’ve tried this recipe with a whole wheat starter and I needed a lot more flour to get the consistency I wanted.
You’ll need a few kitchen basics to make sourdough discard bread:
- Standing Mixer*
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Banneton Proofing Basket**
- Dutch Oven
- Bread Lame***
- Cooling Rack
*You can make this recipe without a standing mixer. I find it faster and easier to use a mixer with this recipe, but if you want to knead it by hand, you can!
**Don’t have a proofing basket? No problem! You can let your dough rise in a bowl lined with a floured tea towel.
*** A sharp knife works too. It has to be sharp though. You want to slice the dough with it, not tear the dough.
Sourdough discard bread is a great recipe for beginners. The hardest part of making this loaf is waiting in between steps. But this bread is definitely worth the wait.
Start by combining the yeast and the warm water in a large bowl. It can be the bowl of your standing mixer, or it can be a mixing bowl if you plan to knead your dough by hand.
Stir the yeast until it dissolves and then let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. This wait allows your yeast to activate and help your bread rise.
If you want to skip the wait time, swap your dry active yeast for the same amount of instant yeast. You can mix instant yeast right in with the rest of your ingredients and it’ll still do its job.
Once your yeast looks a little puffy and bubbly in the water, you’re ready for the next step. Add your sourdough discard and stir until everything dissolves.
At this point, I like to take a break and let the starter and the yeast sit for another 10 to 15 minutes. This gives your starter some time to settle and play nice with the yeast.
Now for the fun part. Add the salt, sugar, and flour to the mix.
If you are using a standing mixer, turn it on and let it mix things together. After a few minutes, a rough dough will form and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Let the mixer knead your dough for a few minutes longer before turning off the machine. Turn out your dough onto a floured surface for shaping..
If you don’t have a standing mixer, just stir things together until a rough dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough until smooth. It should feel slightly tacky to the touch. But if it feels sticky, add a little more flour.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball.
Lightly grease a large bowl. Place your dough ball in the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let your dough rise until doubled in size.
Depending on your sourdough discard and your yeast, rise time could take anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
By now, your dough should look much larger and much puffier than when you started. But you’re not quite ready to bake just yet.
Turn your dough out onto a floured surface. Punch down the dough. Stretch and reshape the dough into a smooth ball again.
Once you’ve got a good looking dough ball again, set it aside for a moment. Flour a Banneton basket, or a line a bowl with a tea towel and flour it heavily.
Set your ball in the basket with the seam side up. Let your dough rise again until double in size. This rise will go much faster this time. It will only take about an hour depending on the temperature of your room.
While your dough rises, put your Dutch oven with its lid in your oven and set the oven to preheat at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. You want your Dutch oven to preheat for at least 30 minutes before baking, though 45 minutes would be ideal. Because I tend to forget this step, I get the oven preheating as soon as I put my dough in the Banneton basket.
Once your dough reaches a good size, give it a light poke. If the dough bounces back quickly, it still needs some time to rise. If the dough bounces back slowly, it’s ready to go in the oven. If it collapses completely, it has overproofed, but you can still cook it anyway (and it will still taste just fine – don’t worry).
Dutch oven preheated? Dough risen? You’re good to go!
Be careful with the next couple of steps – the Dutch oven will be very hot. I’ve burned myself during this step a few times, so please take some precautions.
Gently turn your dough out into the Dutch oven. If you put your dough in the Banneton with the seam side up, the seam will now be on the bottom of the Dutch oven and you’ll have pretty flour swirls on top.
Use a bread lame or a sharp knife to score your dough. I find a hashtag or crosshatch pattern to be the easiest for me. However, you could do a single straight cut down the middle, or you can take a few moments to be fancy and cut some other design into your bread.
Once you’ve scored the dough, replace the lid on the Dutch oven and put everything into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
Carefully remove the lid from the Dutch oven. At this stage, your bread hasn’t finished cooking, but it should have risen quickly formed a nice round shape. In this picture, you can see where the bread split along my crosshatch scoring.
Bake without the lid for another 20 to 25 minutes (temperature stays the same at 450 degrees).
Once your bread has finished baking, turn it out onto a cooling rack. If you thump the bottom of the loaf, it should sound hollow. Your crust should have a nice golden brown color. And if you listen closely, you should hear your bread crackle slightly (like a campfire).
Let your bread cool completely before slicing.
I know it’s tough not to cut into warm bread fresh from the oven, but I’m not joking. Let your bread cool. Although your bread isn’t in the oven anymore, it still retains enough heat to continue baking. If you cut your bread now, the inside may still turn out a little gummy.
And you did it!
You waited for your yeast to activate. You waited for your dough to rise. You waited for your dough to bake. And you waited for your bread to cool.
You can now enjoy your perfectly lovely loaf made from sourdough discard.
Seriously. Go ahead and cut it up now. Slice that bad boy and enjoy.
Or you could take a few pictures first for your Instagram or your Facebook and show it off to your friends. I’m sure they will feel jealous of your baking skills.
You could also tell them how easy it was. You made professional, artisan-style sourdough bread – with almost no effort on your part because you are just that amazing.
Or you know, you could share this recipe.
Secrets to Success
I fell in love with this recipe the first time I tried it. I loved that it used my sourdough discard so I didn’t have to waste it. I loved that I didn’t have to carefully time my sourdough starter for peak bubbles. And I loved that my bread tasted heavenly the first time around.
I did make one mistake during my first attempt, however. I originally placed my dough ball seam side down in the Banneton basket and let it rise that way.
While it looked nice rising in the bowl, I forgot that the dough ball would need to be flipped before going into the oven.
When it baked, the dough naturally split along the seams, rather than following any scoring pattern I made. It still tasted great – but it just didn’t look as pretty.
If you want your bread to look picture perfect, I recommend putting the dough seam side up (as per the instructions) rather than seam side down.
Other than that – this bread is a winner. Easy to make and yummy to eat.
Here’s a quick peek inside my sourdough discard bread recipe:
Keep in mind that I averaged about 10 slices in my loaf. Because it was a round loaf, some of the slices were bigger than others. Similarly, you may cut your bread differently than I cut mine, so your calories per serving may vary.
Did You Try It?
I had a lot of fun making this sourdough discard bread, and I am super excited to hear about your bread adventures with it, too. If you try the recipe, let me know what you think in the comments below. And if you have any additional suggestions for making it better, feel free to share that too – I want to know!