When you feed a sourdough starter, you discard some of the starter so that you can top the remaining starter with more water and flour: that way you get a fairly constant volume of starter rather than having litres of it in many containers all over the place!
The discarding always seems something of a waste, so it is nice to use up some of the discarded starter. One of my favourite ways is to make it into very simple pancakes (just add sugar, eggs and milk and whisk until you have a batter of the consistency you want either for thin crêpe-like pancakes or thicker for breakfast pancakes).
I also like to give some of the starter to friends for them to begin their sourdough journey.
A fuss-free, no-knead, no-rise flatbread
This, however, is a very simple flatbread using just the discarded starter, a little strong white bread flour, some sea salt and water. To be honest, you don’t need to weigh it out: you just mix it all together with just enough water to help it come together to give a fairly firm dough. The whole process, from using the discarded starter to having baked flatbreads takes about 20 minutes.
The dough doesn’t need to rest (as you would with pasta) or rise: you just roll it out, cut into whatever shapes you want and bake it.
Rolling the dough very thinly: pasta machine to the rescue!
The trick is to get the dough rolled out very thinly so you get the crispest of breads. While you can do this with a rolling pin, it can be quite a challenge to go really thin, so by far the easiest way is to use a pasta machine.
Simply take a small piece of the dough and dust it with flour. You then pass it through a pasta machine, starting with the widest setting (number 1) and gradually increasing to setting 5 or even 6 (out of 7): I find that the thinnest setting gives a flatbread that is more like a wafer….but it does give a nice variation!
Once you have the thin strip of dough you cut into rectangles or shapes of choice.
You can bake them just as they are or sprinkle over some spices, herbs or a little grated cheese. I like to sprinkle over a few fennel seeds and pat them gently into the dough before cutting the dough into rectangles. These are then baked at 180C (fan) for about 8-9 minutes.
Now, you have two choices here in terms of the baking depending on what you want to end up with:
(1) Bake them as they are, in which case they will puff up in the oven, giving large air pockets inside: I quite like this – even though they are not flatbreads!!
(2) For flatter flatbreads (!), lay another baking tray on top for the first 5 minutes or more of the bake before removing the top tray and letting the breads finish off for a further 3-4 minutes.