If there was a foodie mascot for the current lockdown period, banana bread and sourdough would be vying for 1st position. The banana bread obsession I can’t really understand but lockdown is the PERFECT time to start baking sourdough. Its something I’ve wanted to do for years, but had just never really gotten round to. But as of 20th April, my sourdough starter baby was born. Hooray!
I’ve made four loaves so far, all with varying levels of success but what they have provided me with is lots of discard! When you’re actively baking with your starter you need to feed it twice a day, i.e. give it flour and water in equal quantities. Every time you feed it you also need to ‘discard’ all but approx. one tablespoon of the starter. This means that you’re effectively throwing away a lot of flour, which feels like a waste on a normal day but in the current situation when flour is such a valuable commodity it feels even worse!
That’s where discard baking comes in i.e. baking with the starter that you would have been throwing out. I recently made Edd Kimbers Sourdough Chocolate Cookies which uses the discard and they were honestly SO so delicious. I urge you to make them immediately. But within his blog post he discussed the method behind incorporating discard into recipes. I won’t go into it, as Edd is the master behind the science, but it got me thinking about how I could include it in some recipes myself.
And there was born the idea for sourdough madelines.
Madelines are a delicious small french cake that are distinguishable due to their shell markings and hump on one side. This is created by the extreme contrast from chilled batter/chilled baking pan and the hot oven. I struggle to get humps consistently on my madelines as my oven doesn’t get quite hot enough, but as it doesn’t compromise the flavour I’m not too fussed.
For this recipe you’ll need an electric whisk, as we need to whisk the egg, egg yolk and sugar together for at least 7 minutes. So if you were going to do that by hand, it’d take you a longgg while. Though an excellent arm workout ;). You will also need to brown your butter, which if you haven’t done before, essentially means just heating the butter until it turns a light brown colour and will smell gorgeous! It gives the madelines a really delicious slightly nutty flavour.
The batter needs to be chilled for at least three hours, and you’ll also need to chill your baking pan for at least 30minutes but ideally an hour. Madeline batter can usually be left in the fridge overnight, but as we’re including sourdough discard into the mix, ideally we don’t want to leave it any longer than 4 hours. Though the batter is in the fridge, the discard will continue fermenting so leaving the batter overnight could result in the madelines tasting too sour.
I really loved the taste of these madelines; the discard gives a subtle sour tang and makes them really light and airy while the browned butter gives a delicious nutty flavour. They are best served same day, and I wont lie to you when I say I demolished two minutes after baking…sue me! Now, while they are delicious as they are. I decided to dip them in dark chocolate for a little added pizzazz, and it really complemented the flavours so well.
I hope these give you another way to use up your discard, and you enjoy them as much as I did!
On with the recipe!
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 100 g caster sugar
- 45 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 115 g sourdough starter
- 100 g dark chocolate
- Place the butter into a small saucepan and place over a medium heat. Cook, stirring every now and then, until the butter has foamed and turned a light brown colour. (Keep watch, as it can easily burn.) Pour into a bowl to cool a little – the butter should now weigh 82g.
- In a large bowl add the egg, egg yolk and sugar and using an electric whisk, whisk for around 6-7 minutes until the mixture is very pale and thick.
- Mix together the flour and baking powder, and sift into the egg/sugar mixture. Very gently fold in. Then add the sourdough starter and again mix in very gently.
- Take a large spoonful of the batter and mix it into the browned butter. Then pour the butter mixture back into the batter and mix in carefully but thoroughly. Place clingfilm directly onto the batter, to stop a skin forming, and place into the fridge for 3 hours.
- With an hour to go on the batter, liberally butter and flour your baking tin. Then place in the freezer to chill.
- Preheat the oven to 220C/200 Fan with about 30 minutes to go. Then spoon batter into each madeline shell about 2/3 full, and bake for 8-9 minutes. As soon as they are out of the oven, tap them out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
- After the madelines have cooled for about 10 minutes, melt the dark chocolate in a microwave in 30 second burst, stirring between each. Then dip each madeline in the melted chocolate and leave to set on baking paper.