sourdough cookies — Recipes — The Boy Who Bakes (2024)

Edd Kimber


sourdough cookies — Recipes — The Boy Who Bakes (1)

We’ve been in lockdown almost six weeks now and whilst its looking like restrictions might be loosened a little in the coming weeks the internets new obsession with sourdough shows no signs of abating. As more and more of you join the sourdough bandwagon there is one question that raises it head regularly, and that is how to prevent waste. Sourdough starters are hungry little beasts and they eat flour like they don’t realise its like gold dust right now. Throwing out that discarded starter really feels like a waste right now and surely there is something we can do to reduce that.

Reducing Waste
If you’re not going to be baking with the starter more than once a week, which is normal for most people, feeding the starter daily is going to produce the most possible amount of waste. Thankfully there is a few ways we can reduce the amount of feedings the starter needs to survive. The easiest of these, and what I would suggest you do, is simply refrigerate the starter when its not in use. As you will have learnt fermentation needs a warm environment to happen, or at least happen at the speed we like to happen, and simply reducing its ambient temperature slows it down. Placing it in the fridge slows the process down enough that it doesn’t need anywhere near as many feeds. Some people advise taking the starter out for a feed once a week, some every other week and some monthly. My guideline is when you remember give the starter a feed, trying not to leave it too long between each feeds. The process to do these feeds is simple, take the starter out of the fridge and discard and feed as normal. Before you put the starter back in the fridge leave it at room temperature for a couple hours to let the fermentation get a head start and then refrigerate until you either want to bake with it or you think it needs another feed. When you want to bake with it I take out the starter and give it a couple rounds of feeds to bring it back to full strength. The other ways you can reduce feeding is reducing the temperature of water used for the feeds to slow down the fermentation, you can also keep back less than 25g of starter when you feed. Both of these methods slow down the starter meaning it will likely only need one feed a day instead of the two a healthy starter normally needs.

sourdough cookies — Recipes — The Boy Who Bakes (2)

Discard Recipes
The other thing you can do to prevent waste is of course use that discard in a recipe. If you think about it the starter is 50% flour and 50% water so it should be easy to use in recipes that call for flour and some sort of liquid. You can turn the discard into a whole manner of recipes, including crackers, crumpets and a whole host of simple recipes like pancakes, waffles and even banana bread muffins. When you feed the starter and scrape the starter into a separate container and pop it in the fridge until you have enough for your recipe. Dont leave it in there for longer than a few days, if you want to store it for longer some people even freeze the discard so they can bake with it later. The general rule is take the weight of the starter discard you have and divide this number by two, substituting it for an equal amount of flour and liquid in your recipe. Whilst this works easily in lots of recipes a chocolate chip cookie might not be the first thing that springs to mind but let me tell you, it may be my favourite way to use the sourdough discard.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
If we follow the above rules for baking with sourdough discard we run into a issue straight away just looking at the ingredients. Chocolate chip cookies include flour but they don’t normally include any liquid so to use the discard we need to creative. We need to find the water in the recipe to remove. Thankfully cookies include two ingredients that contain significant water, butter and eggs. Butter in the Europe is generally around 82% fat and the remaining 18% is water. Removing that water is actually easy, all we need to do is brown it. You can tell you’ve removed the water by weighing the finished brown butter. This recipe is based on the one in my first book and it uses 225g of butter, so if we have cooked off all the water the finished butter will weigh 185g, meaning we have lost 40g of water. 40g of water loss means we can use 80g of starter reducing the flour weight called for in the recipe by 40g to match the water. To reduce the amount fo water even further we can remove the egg whites. UK size large egg whites are 40g and this recipe originally called for 2 large eggs so by simply removing the yolks we’ve removed another 80g of water weight (I used the whole egg white as the weight to keep things simple) meaning in total we can use 240g of sourdough discard in the recipe. This is great for two reasons. One, 240g is a good amount of discard (about 2.5 days worth if you’re following my recipe) and two, its enough discard to add a decent amount of flavour. In this recipe the tang from the starter goes brilliantly with the chocolate and adds a new dimension of flavour to the recipe. Talking of chocolate for these cookies I was lucky enough to have a bag of Pump St’s brilliant Jamaica 75% chocolate feves on hand, which they’ve just started selling to the public in 1kg sized bags, and which made for exceedingly good cookies.

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 25 cookies

225g unsalted butter, diced
380g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp flaked sea salt
220g caster sugar
220g light brown sugar
3 large egg yolks
240g sourdough starter discard (100% hydration)
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

To make the cookies we first need to brown the butter. Don’t be tempted to skip this because this isn’t just done for flavour it also removes the water content from the butter which is being replaced by the stater, if you skip this step the resulting recipe will have a very different texture. Place the butter into a saucepan and over medium/high heat cook until the butter melts, bubbles and then foams. Keep a close eye on it as it can burn quickly, when the milk solids have browned the water will have been evaporated off so remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes or so, to cool slightly. Once browned you should have 185g unsalted butter left (thats if using butter with an 82% fat content). Whilst the butter is browning place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and whisk together to combine.

When ready to make the cookies place the butter and sugars into a large bowl and using an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk for a couple minutes to combine and to break up any lumps. Add the egg yolks and whisk for 2-3 minutes on medium/high. Don’t worry if this looks separated or greasy at the moment, it will come together once we’ve added the starter. Place the bowl on your scale and measure in the required sourdough discard, adding the vanilla as well. Mix in for a few minutes or until the mixture becomes smooth and fully combined, it should look a little like a thick cake batter. Add in the flour mixture and mix in on low speed, just until everything comes together as a dough. Finally, switch to the paddle attachment and add the chocolate, mixing briefly until evenly distributed. Press a sheet of clingfilm onto the surface of the cookie dough and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before baking (my preferred time frame to bake these is between 4-24 hours).

sourdough cookies — Recipes — The Boy Who Bakes (3)

Note: With my regular cookie recipes I will leave the dough in the fridge for up to three days but with these remember that even though the discard may be less active than your usual starter you are adding sourdough to fresh flour so overtime the dough will ferment a little more, so the longer you leave the dough the stronger the finished flavour.

When ready to bake preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan) and line a couple baking trays with parchment paper. Roll the cookies into balls roughly 70g in size, placing 6 per baking tray, with plenty of space between each one as these will spread. Sprinkle the cookies with a little flaked sea salt.

Bake in the preheated over for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned around the outside. If the cookies come out a little puffy looking give the baking tray and firm tap on the counter to help them flatten a little. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Stored in a sealed container these will keep for 4-5 days. You can also freeze these balls of cooke dough for up to a month, baking straight from frozen with just a minute or two of extra bake time.

Lockdown Tips

This recipe makes 25 cookies which is a lot, so you can happily reduce the recipe by half (using just 1 egg yolk).

Once the dough is chilled and you’ve rolled them into balls you can freeze these for up to a month. To freeze place the balls onto a parchment lined baking tray that will fit in the freezer. Freeze the cookies until frozen solid, at this point the cookies wont stick together so you can add them to a freezer bag or Tupperware to save on space.

For the chocolate I normally like a high quality dark chocolate but you can really use whatever you have, be that a milk or dark, bars, chips or wafers. Each one will make a slightly different cookie with different textures and tastes but they’ll all be great.

Edd Kimber

sourdough cookies — Recipes — The Boy Who Bakes (2024)


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