Converting recipes to sourdough

Like many, I'm guessing, I hate wasting starter and am always looking for ways to use it when I'm in between bread-baking.

No doubt this topic has been raised before, but does anyone have a formula they use to incorporate starter in recipes that don't usually use sourdough?

I'm thinking along two lines here:
1. Substituting starter in place of dry yeast or baking powder/soda in, say, cakes, so the sourdough yeast has a rising function, while augmenting the flour ordinarily in the recipe (the original flour quantity being reduced by an appropriately proportionate amount).

2. Just adding the starter to replace some of the flour and water/liquid in recipes without intending that the yeast elements of the starter perform a rising function.

My guess is that for a 100% hydration starter you could simply weigh it, assume that half the weight is flour and half water, and deduct those weights respectively from whatever flour and water is in the non-sourdough recipe...? 

Hmmm, don't think I'm being very clear, so will try to clarify by example.

eg: assume cake recipe has 250gm flour and 80gm of if you had, say, 100gm of 100% hydration starter, you'd use that in place of 50 gm of the flour and 50gm of the milk (thus, you'd measure out 200gm of flour instead of 250gm, and 30gm of milk instead of 80gm, then add your 100gm of starter).

Or is this too simple?

Interested in the comments of you folk who have successfully used starter in non-sourdough recipes.

331 users have voted.


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 September 4
I've only subbed for yeasted breads, and, I do it the same (simple) way as you do. Works. Not sure if it works for cakes, especially the light ones, as the starter would have developed the gluten some. Hmm...interested to hear successful attempts.
PeteInAz. 2009 September 5

I am trying it with a spice cake recipe with mixed results.

When I use it along with baking soda, it works rather well. 

When I try to use the sourdoughs rising function, it doesn't work so well. I think the failure has more to do with my inexperience then a failure of the sourdough. 

I may back off and try a simpler cake next time. 

If I ever do succede, I will put the recipe up.

Until then I shall endevor to persevere. 

Lisa Bresnahan 2022 October 24

In my experience, after leavening any type of sourdough recipe with baking soda, cakes, biscuits or English muffins, allow the finished product to rest before baking, frying etc. for 15 to 20 minutes.  This permits the baking soda to react with acidity in the sourdough and creates gas bubbles, lightening the cake, bread or pancakes.

rossnroller 2009 September 6
Thanks for your input, TeckPoh and PeteInAz.

I'm planning to try substituting starter in my trusty favourite chocolate cake, which I've made many times. Thought I should start with a reliable recipe I know well.

Please DO post your cake recipe, PeteInAz, once you have tweaked it to your satisfaction.

PeteInAz. 2009 September 13

Ok... Here's what I tried:

2C starter

1C sugar

1/2C melted butter

1/4C water

2 large eggs

1T vanilla

2C flour.

Mix the starter, sugar,butter,water and eggs until smooth.

Beat in the flour, one cup at a time until well incorporated.

Pour into a round cake pan and let "rise" for around five hours.

Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 40 minutes.

Let cool.

It baked like a cake should, sort of. It split in the middle. I'll try to add a picture

Things I will change next time:

Up the sugar to 1 1/2C, I didn't taste any sweetness at all.

Leave the additional water out, I think the batter needs to be thicker.

Try a three hour "rise". The reason I'm putting rise in quotes is, the batter diddn't rise at all, the cake did in the oven,but the batter didn't move.

I wonder about the temp. Should I cook it hotter and shorter, or a bit cooler and longer? 

Gary1's picture
Gary1 2010 July 14

I used to make crowd-pleaser cinnamon rolls ( I heated the water and

milk to so hot, but not to hot. measure out the yeast. Not any more.

 The night be fore I make them, I get my sourdough out of the refrigator, stir

 and feed it. Next day it is ready to go. I mix every thing in the recipe except the yeast.

 Then I pour some sourdough in, I don`t measure it, I just pour cup, 1/2 cup I don`t know.

  Then I cover it up with plactic wrap, and set it on the counter. in about 24 hours it is trying to

  get out. Add flour, then roll out, per the recipe.  You don`t taste the sour in a 1 day rise.

  Once I thought it might be good to have sour, sweet cinnamon rools. I let them rise for a while 

  the I put them in the refig. for about 6 days, I was going for sour. What did I make. no sour taste,

  no cinnamon taste, no sweet sugar taste. It cancled each other out. It sure was pretty when I put it in the oven

HVHB 2011 April 3

 I'm interested in some answers here if anyone has had any success with this topic.  I'm working on a rye cake recipe and was thinking I'd like it to be fermented and risen by sourdough, if possible.  I'm also thinking of working on some savoury muffins.

All suggestions appreciated.

timb 2011 May 27

 I have tried converting several yeast recipes to sourdough.  Most "bready" things work well, such as rolls; Dan Leader's croissants (Local Breads) were a spectacular success and are now a regular item.

Sourdough pancakes did not work well, as they ended up rather heavy and rubbery.  I tried a simple white flour version and one which used buckwheat.  The biggest disappointment was that all the taste seemed to disappear. I had done a fair amount of internet research and found plenty of recipes that were described as fantastic - it didn't work for me!  

I would like to try again if anyone can suggest a way of doing sourdough pancakes well.



Merrid 2011 June 1

But I did it by using sodium bicarb to interact with the acidity in the starter for the rise, not just the starter itself. One thing I would say is that a lot of pancake recipes on the net have an awful lot of salt - 1 1/2 teaspoons to 200g mixture - and then add a LOT of sugar to counteract it. Just a pinch of salt will do with the bicarb method. It makes pancakes which aren't particularly sour (since the bicarb has reacted with a lot of the acids) but do have some complexity of flavour.

But I haven't tried making them with the starter as the only raising agent. I suspect they would turn out rather like blinis, slightly chewy.

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