written by
Jessica Potts

Your Sourdough Starter: Three Recipes to Make with your Toddler

activity ideas covid-19 7 min read

Hey y’all, it’s Jess again.

Most of us have been sheltering-in-place for the last couple of weeks (maybe even months) in order to flatten the curve. It seems like quarantine has brought out the inner baker in all of us.

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Photographer: Mae Mu | Source: Unsplash

I don’t know about where y’all live but where I am, finding yeast is basically like getting my toddler to go to bed without any fuss— impossible.

Photographer: Picsea | Source: Unsplash

In comes sourdough starter to make delicious sourdough bread. If you don’t have a good sourdough starter, here is a good recipe to get you started. All you need is flour and water! Easy peasy. Now, those of you with a starter know just how much work it is. You care for and watch your starter grow every time you feed it. Some of us have even become slightly obsessed with it.

Meet Doughney Starks.

photo of sourdough starter named doughney starks for lil helper blog
Doughney Starks

This is the beautiful starter that I’ve been nurturing for months.

If you have a starter, you know just how much you have to discard every time you feed. Feeding is basically adding more water and flour so your starter stays “alive.” Now, just because it’s called discard doesn’t make it trash does it? No no no. This stuff is amazing and tastes soooo good in a variety of recipes!

Like so many of you, I have a toddler who is permanently glued to my body. She must be touching me at all times. At. All. Times.

This means that if I want to do anything, I gotta do it with a toddler and more often than not, also a baby in tow.

I’ve found some tasty recipes that have made it easy for me to interact with my toddler (without her touching me 😳) and make some yummy foods without wasting any of my delicious sourdough starter.

I like to throw my baby on my back in a baby carrier and get to work.

1. Sourdough crackers: this is my all-time favorite way to use sourdough discard. It’s so easy and toddlers love it! Plus, you can’t really mess it up which is a huge plus when dealing with tiny chefs that get distracted every 5 seconds. Plus, they taste so yummy with hummus! The recipe I used is from the King Arthur website and can be found here or you can follow the instructions below.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Bake Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Total: 1 hr 25 minutes

Yields: about 100 crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (113g) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (227g) sourdough starter, unfed/discard
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs of your choice, optional
  • oil, for brushing
  • coarse salt (such as kosher or sea salt) for sprinkling on top
photo of toddler's hand in a bowl of flour for lil helper blog on sourdough starter
It is not always very clean but it is fun!

Instructions (HOW TO CHANGE TO BULLET POINTS?)
1. Mix together the flour, salt, sourdough starter, butter, and optional herbs to make a smooth (not sticky), cohesive dough.
2. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a small rectangular slab. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a couple of hours, until the dough is firm.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
4. Very lightly flour a piece of parchment, your rolling pin, and the top of the dough.

photo of toddler rolling dough for lil helper blog on sourdough starter
My toddler rolling the dough for the crackers

5. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough to about 1/16" thick. The dough will have ragged, uneven edges; that's OK. Just try to make it as even as possible.

6. Transfer the dough and parchment together onto a baking sheet. Lightly brush with oil and then sprinkle the salt over the top of the crackers.

7. Cut the dough into 1 1/4" squares; a rolling pizza wheel works well here.

8. Prick each square with the tines of a fork.

9. Bake the crackers for 20 to 25 minutes, until the squares are starting to brown around the edges. Midway through, reverse the baking sheets: both top to bottom, and front to back; this will help the crackers brown evenly.

10. When fully browned, remove the crackers from the oven, and transfer them to a cooling rack. Store airtight at room temperature for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.

photo of crackers made with sourdough starter for lil helper blog
Our batch of crackers

2. Sourdough pancakes: I love making huge batches of these because then I can throw them in the freezer for later or put a bunch in the fridge to give as snacks when my kiddo is getting hangry and I’m in the middle of cooking. My absolute favorite recipe can be found here or you can follow the instructions below.

photo of toddler mixing ingredients in a glass bowl for a recipe using sourdough starter for lil helper blog
My toddler mixing ingredients after she put them all together.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 12

AuthorJulie Clark

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (another recipe you can try)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
photo of a variety of ingredients in different glass and plastic containers for lil helper blog on sourdough starter
I like to measure the ingredients out with my kiddo but it can be very tedious so you can always measure beforehand and have it ready to mix!

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and soda, sugar and salt.
  • Add the sourdough starter, milk, egg, and oil. Mix well just until combined.
  • Spray a pancake griddle with cooking spray or grease well with butter. Heat to about 300-350 degrees.
  • Pour 1/4 cup pancake batter on the hot griddle. Cook until the pancake starts bubbling on top, then flip the pancake.
  • Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until the pancake is cooked through.
  • Serve warm with butter and syrup.
photo of toddler hand holding a wooden bowl that contains mini pancakes made with sourdough starter for lil helper blog
We love to make our pancakes mini-sized for easy snacking!

3. Focaccia: I won’t lie to you. This one is a lot more involved but the reward is so big. If you’ve tried the top two and saw that your child enjoyed it, you can step up your game with some focaccia! My kiddo's favorite part is when she gets to poke the holes in the bread. My favorite recipe can be found here or you can follow the instructions below.

INGREDIENTS

  • 50 g – 100 g (1/4 to 1/2 cup) active starter, see notes above
  • 10 g (about 2.5 teaspoons) kosher salt
  • 430 – 440 g water, room temperature, see notes above*
  • 512 g (about 4 cups) bread flour, see notes above
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • Nice, flaky sea salt
Image from https://alexandracooks.com/2019/03/22/simple-sourdough-focaccia-a-beginners-guide/

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the starter, salt, and water in a large bowl. Stir with a spatula to combine — it doesn’t have to be uniformly mixed. Add the flour. Mix again until the flour is completely incorporated.
  2. If time permits, perform one “fold”: 30 minutes after you mix the dough, reach into the bowl and pull the dough up and into the center. Turn the bowl quarter turns and continue this pulling 8 to 10 times. See video for guidance.
  3. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil and rub to coat. Cover bowl with a tea towel or a bowl cover and set aside to rise for 4 to 18 hours (the time will vary depending on the time of year, the strength of your starter, and the temperature of your kitchen — in summer, for instance, my sourdoughs double in 6 hours; in winter, they double in 18 hours).
Image from https://alexandracooks.com/2019/03/22/simple-sourdough-focaccia-a-beginners-guide/
  1. When dough has doubled, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 9×13-inch pan. (If you are using a glass pan, you may, as a precaution, want to butter it it first)
  2. Drizzle dough with a tablespoon of olive oil. Use your hand to gently deflate the dough and release it from the sides of the bowl. Gently scoop the dough into the center of the pool of oil in your prepared pan. Fold dough envelope style from top to bottom and side to side to create a rough rectangle. Turn dough over so seam-side is down.  Video guidance here.
  3. Rub top of dough with oil. Leave alone for 4 to 6 hours or until puffy and nearly doubled.
  4. Heat oven to 425ºF. Rub hands lightly with oil, and using all ten fingers, press gently into the dough to dimple and stretch the dough to nearly fit the pan. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden all around. Remove pan from oven and transfer bread to a cooling rack. Cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Image from https://alexandracooks.com/2019/03/22/simple-sourdough-focaccia-a-beginners-guide/

Every time you feed your starter, you can take the discard and put it in a different jar to save for later or use it up in one of the above recipes! I normally throw mine in a jar in the fridge and let it get to room temperature before using in a recipe.

photo of sourdough starter discard for lil helper blog
This is my current discard jar for Doughney. Sometimes I save more and use a bigger jar but I didn’t need much this time.

One last tip: If you are really feeling the waste of your sourdough starter and wanting to take a break, you can always hibernate your starter in the fridge for a week and only feed once a week. You may need one or two feedings but this is how I do mine. I take it out on weekends to feed and that’s when I make my goodies for the week.

Hope y’all have an amazing time trying out these recipes with your littles!

What are some of your favorite recipes to use with your toddler? Feel free to share some pictures below!

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