Old-Fashioned Maine Sourdough Waffles

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Old-Fashioned Maine Sourdough Waffles

star rating (13) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

Two weeks ago we made our first foray to a little house in Maine that we retreat to as often as we can, tide and season willing. We have no electricity there, but we do have bottled gas and a generator, so we have a gas stove and refrigerator—and kerosene lamps and a woodstove and lots of books. (There's no rhubarb there, but I'm in the process of correcting that.) I usually restock the Maine house's supply of yeast, levain and sourdough every spring. One can't be without those things, wherever one goes. But this time we traveled light, and yeast was all I took.

Sunday morning was clearly a morning for waffles. No sourdough! I tried a couple of other waffle recipes, both of which convinced us that we loved our sourdough waffles best. So I include this recipe here just to state my recommitment and loyalty to sourdough waffles and to give them a little "PR"—and because I'm going to eat the next batch with baked rhubarb and whipped cream.

Making waffles also creates an easy excuse to feed your starter without getting into anything very time-consuming. That said, it's best to start this recipe the day before you want to cook. (Although, being the queen of shortcuts, I know you can make great waffles even if you mix this all up at the last minute.)

The Sponge
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, Premium or White Whole Wheat
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups (16 ounces) buttermilk
1 cup (8 ounces) sourdough starter*

The Batter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, melted (or vegetable oil)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

*If your starter has been neglected, you would do it (and the waffles) a favor if you refreshed it the morning before you want to make waffles. To refresh, mix together a cup of water and a cup of flour. Stir your original starter, since it probably has accumulated a layer of alcohol on the top. Take a couple of tablespoons of this original starter and blend it into the flour/water mixture you made. Cover the mixture, and let it work all day. (Consign the original starter to the "gone and to be forgotten" bin.) Then proceed with the following. Note: If you want to double the waffle recipe, which we do regularly, mix together 2 cups each of water and flour, and feed it with the same amount of starter, about 2 tablespoons.

The Sponge: Mix together the flours and sugar in a medium-sized ceramic mixing bowl. Stir in the buttermilk. (If you're doing this at the last minute, take the chill off it; a microwave does this nicely. Don't worry if it separates a bit.) Add 1 cup (or 2, if you're doubling the recipe) of your refreshed sourdough starter and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature overnight, or for whatever shorter time span is practical.

Feeding Your "New" Starter: While the sponge is resting, feed your "new" starter. Do this the same way you fed your original starter. Take 2 tablespoons of the "refreshed starter" you made initially (before starting the sponge), and combine it with a cup of water and a cup of flour. Discard the remaining "refreshed starter."

Note: You might substitute a couple of tablespoons of pumpernickel for the same of wheat flour. Pumpernickel contains minerals that make sourdough organisms happy plus it adds a nice fleck to your subsequent batter or dough. Also, if I'm refreshing a starter by adding a cup of water and a cup of flour, I usually add an extra ounce of flour. This makes it a bit thicker and heartier. Sourdough starter tends to thin out as the organisms feed. (But only people who chronically neglect their starters would know that.) Let this new starter rest at room temperature for 12 hours, then refrigerate it for future use.

The Waffle Batter: Beat together the eggs, butter or oil, salt and baking soda until light. Blend this mixture into the sponge, and see dramatic chemistry begin to happen.

Spray your waffle iron with a bit of vegetable oil pan spray. (This is probably necessary only for the first waffle.) Pour 1/2 to 1 cup batter onto the iron, depending on its size, close, and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until it's as done as you like. Remove gently with a fork.

Waffles are best eaten as they come off the iron; they don't take well to stockpiling. This makes for serial eating, but it builds anticipation and probably contributes to general squabbling about who deserves the next one. Ultimately all will be satiated, blood sugar will return to normal, and you and your starter can rest until once again the waffle pixie gives you a poke.

FYI, sourdough waffles are extraordinarily light, and their flavor has an edge (because of the period of fermentation) that puts them in another category from the more usual baking powder version. Traditionally they're served with butter and maple syrup, but their unique flavor combines well with things savory as well.

Tip: Need some sourdough starter to get started? See our step-by-step directions for creating your own sourdough starter from scratch. Or, if you’re looking for a head-start, check out our classic fresh sourdough starter, a simpler path to fresh, ready-to-use sourdough starter.

Nutrition information per serving (1/12 of recipe, 1 waffle with 1/4 cup rhubarb sauce, 149g): 226 cal, 5g fat, 6g protein, 23g complex carbohydrates, 16g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 47mg cholesterol, 297mg sodium, 266mg potassium, 58RE vitamin A, 3mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 93mg calcium, 106mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 4, Spring 2000 issue.


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  • star rating 04/26/2015
  • Alexa from Provo, Utah
  • Everyone we make these for loves them! They are so flavorful, easy, and a great use for extra starter. I absolutely love them with maple syrup, but they are also great with strawberry sauce or other fruit. I have refrigerated the batter overnight after using them (we usually make them for dinner), and the waffles were too sour for me in the morning. Instead, if we have extra batter I make the waffles and freeze them.
  • star rating 02/15/2015
  • Sarah from Indiana
  • I have nothing but good things to say about this recipe. It's my favorite way of using my sourdough starter. This recipe has journeyed with me through all of my dietary changes. It is perfect as is, but here's the many ways I've altered it: No buttermilk on hand: Just use plain milk, half yogurt & plain milk, or even just almond milk. Eggless: substitute the eggs for flax 'eggs' (1 Tbsp ground flax seeds + 3 Tbsp hot water = 1 flax egg) Fat free: substitute the butter for applesauce I've made it completely vegan and fat free with great results. It makes a generous quantity of waffles that freeze really well and make for a very quick breakfast with only a few minutes in the toaster.
  • star rating 11/17/2013
  • Molly from Arlington, VA
  • This is my new favorite recipe for Sunday mornings. The waffles come out light and airy, and as a consequence, soak up maple syrup nicely. I've used both liquid and dry buttermilk with equally good results. I'm looking forward to trying the addition of vanilla to the batter, as suggested below. I do leave them out at room temperature overnight, and they come out perfectly every time.
  • star rating 10/30/2013
  • Elizabeth from Andover, VT
  • We love this recipe! This is the waffle recipe I use most often. It doesn't seem to matter if I make the sponge the night before or just toss in my sourdough starter in the morning; it always comes out great.
  • star rating 01/13/2013
  • Melissa from Santa Monica
  • Good, not great recipe. I liked that these waffles weren't sweet as most are. With that, I felt that they lacked salt to give more flavor. They were nice and light instead of the usual denser type. We tried one with a homemade berry syurp. It didn't seem to be just right with the savory/sweet combo, so I made a few with Pancetta and parmesan. My husband said that it was much better with the salty savory flavor and he isn't a huge fan of anything salty at all. It was fun watching the sponge bubble and rise throughout the day. The smell was great. I made these as not to waste the sourdough starter I was about to toss after feeding the remainder. I don't regret making these, it just wasn't as amazing as I had hoped for. I definitely suggest that if you try these, make a few with some savory ingredients and compare. Crumbled sausage, bacon, ham, etc along with a salty cheese like parmesean and maybe some fresh black pepper.
  • 11/18/2012
  • Bruce from Brookings, OR
  • Fantastic recipe. The waffle is very light, has a beautiful rich brown color, and disappears off of plates in a heart beat. But, I found in the recipe there is the sentence, "Blend this mixture into the sponge, and see the dramatic chemistry begin to happen." My understanding of this sentence came when I got up in the morning to prepare for breakfast and the waffle batter had overflowed, really overflowed, alot of ovedflow, onto the counter. WHAT A GOOD MORNING MESS TO CLEAN UP! Maybe I should have set the container in the sink for the night?? Take head, that sentences means exactly what it says. Its just said in such a sublte manner that I missed how important it really is
    Once the sponge has been mixed into the batter, it really should not be kept on your counter overnight. It should be either cooked right away or kept in your refrigerator overnight.-Jon
  • star rating 09/09/2012
  • Tania from Ca
  • To: Laura S. Laura, One of the tips from the KAF Bakers is to use rounds when making the pancakes. This way the batter rises instead of spreading. I've wanted to try this method, but haven't done so yet. I LOVE the Waffles! Made them again today! Have left overs for tomorrow! Yummy!
  • star rating 08/24/2012
  • Laura S from KAF Community
  • I really like this recipe. I just finished making a double batch and cooking like pancakes (because I don't own a waffle iron). The double batch made 36 - 3-4" round pancakes. The flavor is excellent, even my sugar addicted son ate them with nothing saying they didn't need anything. I made it exactly as the recipe stated - aside from the waffle iron. But these are very thin pancakes. I am used to more fluffy higher rising cakes. Maybe there is something I missed. But regardless, the kids love them and I put them away in single serve foil packets int he freezer for school mornings. A favorite in this house! Thank you for the recipe.
  • star rating 07/14/2012
  • Tania from California
  • I forgot to mention that I also add a 1/2 tsp of vanilla to the batter. My Waring Pro Belgian Waffle Make turns out 9 waffles. If any batter happens to spill over into the tray, I just add it back into the bowl of batter. I use a 3/4 cup measuring cup. I scoop it into the batter and pour onto the griddle. I don't scrape out what sticks to the cup. So it's just less than 3/4 cups of batter per waffle. To make less, make 1/2 the recipe, to make more, double the recipe or just make 1 1/2 batches. I'm making them again this weekend. Yummy!
  • star rating 07/11/2012
  • Tania from California
  • I've been putting my Belgian Waffle Maker to good use these days... These waffles are great! They are my favorite! My Mom is not a waffle person, but she loves these! These waffles freeze well, and re-heat perfectly!! I use the dry buttermilk as well. I use 1/2 cup of wheat flour and 1 1/2 of All purpose flour. I also add an extra Tbsp of sugar. But I use Zulka azucar morena sugar which I've infused with a scraped vanilla bean. I don't mix in the salt nor the baking soda with all the other ingredients . I wait and add them when I'm ready to make the waffles. I don't think I'll try any other recipe. Maple syrup or Boysenberry syrup is what I top mine off with. I need to make these again soon!
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