Most of us don’t make bread daily but want to keep a sourdough starter. I saved the mature/to be discarded levain I didn’t need for baking or future feedings in a jar that lived in my freezer. I made many demasiado acidic breads just to claim victory over non-waste, but my palate never grew accustomed to loving the overly-acidic flavor. I experimented with adding the discard levain to pastries, quickbreads, and flatbreads (both leavened and not). My initial goal centered on not wasting the levain marked for discard, but also driven by creating more digestible pastries with another note on the palate.

When converting recipes to using a levain, I think about the components of a levain: starch and liquid. Take a favorite recipe and find the ingredients that have these two qualities. Obvious ingredients with liquid: milk, cream, water, lemon juice. Then there are the not so obvious: butter, maple syrup, fresh fruit, puree, vanilla extract.

Butter –> cook out water or replace with coconut oil
Maple syrup –> unrefined (dry) sugars like coconut or panela
Fresh fruit –> dry fruit, or partially dried fruit
Purees –> cook out some water
Vanilla extract –> vanilla powder, or omit

Record recipe changes. Make adjustments. Use water absorbing ingredients like flax or chia, coconut flour, or dried almond meal from making nut milks. Maybe bake at a higher temperature to set the structure, then lowering the temperature to cook the center through. Science is wonderful. Enjoy the process.

Change up intentionally slow mornings with sourdough waffles. (This recipe benefits from freshly/newly discarded levain rather than stored in freezer levain.) Serve with a homemade syrup and salted grass-fed butter. Syrup with a 2:1 sugar/water ratio has a similar body to maple syrup. It is possible to reset the nostalgia an Eggo holds in your memory even if this waffle doesn’t jump out of a toaster. La Verdad.

Find a framework of comfortability and evolve from there.

polenta cake with sourdough

Polenta cake, with sourdough

200g eggs
175g unrefined sugar
300g masa madre or discard levain (100% hydration)
150g polenta
8g baking powder
4g salt
170g olive oil

Bake at 180C/350F for 40 minutes in a greased 8″ cake mold lined with parchment.

scones and cookies with levain

Chocolate rosemary scones, with sourdough, dairy-free

150g masa madre or discard levain (100% hydration)
325g whole wheat flour
50g unrefined sugar
9g baking powder
2g baking soda
5g salt
50g eggs
200g coconut oil, chilled, cut in chunks
150g almond milk
11g rosemary
195g 72% chocolate pieces

Eating vegan? Replace eggs with flax eggs or chia seeds. Bake from frozen. Start baking at a high temp, finish lower. Your oven, your temp, your length of time.

Cookie, with sourdough

100g masa madre or discard levain (100% hydration)
100g almond flour (dry from making nut milk)
85g whole wheat flour, fine
20g whole wheat flour, coarse
5g salt
3g baking soda
150g brown butter
175-200g unrefined sugar, fine
40g unrefined sugar, coarse
100g eggs
170g 70% chocolate pieces

Prepare dough with creaming method. Bake from frozen. Start at a higher temp and lower to finish. If the cookie spreads too much, increase dry ingredients or bake on parchment.