• Watson

Sourdough Starter, Sourdough Waffle, Sourdough Cake, and Sourdough Everything (almost)

Mom swore she had the best pancake when traveling in Alaska this summer. The secret, she found, is in the dough. Because the dough, as the hostess of the Bed & Breakfast claimed, was passed on from the first landlady of the house in 1896! Yes, Mom didn’t hear it wrong, and your math is fine, it’s a 122-year old dough!

Of course, not just any dough can be passed on from generation to generation like that! This is a SOURDOUGH we are talking about!

“San Francisco is the home of Sourdough!” Mom announced, “but I can’t believe I’d never had any other sourdough baked goods other than the bread, until I traveled to Alaska!”

So she bought this little booklet about sourdough and went on a conquest of sourdough as soon as she returned to our Kitchen.

The key to any sourdough baked goods is the sourdough starter. It’s rather simple to make sourdough starter. You need essentially three ingredients: flour, water, and air! Just mix the former two and let it sit in the 3rd.

But it’s rather tricky to succeed in the end. The trick is you have to capture the right kind of wild yeast and bacteria in the air but not the unwanted microorganisms.

And you kind of have no control over what grows inside that dough and what doesn’t, except just to let the dough do the job on its own and trust it won’t go bad.

Sounds like the way you feel about your children, doesn’t it!

Luckily this is cooking, and we CAN cheat, to certain extent. You DO still want this to be a semi natural process. So the method I copied from the little booklet here should help you capture more of those good stuff in the air and keep the bad germs at bay.

Quick and Simple Sourdough Starter

(adapted from “Simple Sourdough” - The Alaska Way”, by Kathy Doogan)


  • 1½ cups lukewarm milk (skim or low-fat works best)

  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided into 1½ cups and ½ cup

  • ½ cup water

The sourdough starter smells bready and a bit sour. There is liquid formed on top which is completely normal.


  1. In a large glass or plastic mixing bowl (avoid metal), add milk, yeast, sugar, and 1½ cups flour;

  2. Use a wooden or plastic spatula (again, avoid metal!) to stir and mix well until there are no big clumps;

  3. Cover the bowl loosely with a wet towel, or a lid. In our case we simply used a piece of Saran Wrap without sealing the bowl. This will leave enough room for the dough to “breathe”;

  4. Leave the bowl at room temperature (preferably a warm place, eg next to the stove in the kitchen), and let it sit for 3 days;

  5. Stir in the remaining ½ cup flour and ½ water, mix well, cover the bowl loosely again, let it sit for 2 hours, or 1 day.

The sourdough starter is now ready!


  1. Avoid metal utensils and bowls when working with sourdough, because the acid in sourdough (which makes it sour) reacts to metal!

  2. Never cover the container of sourdough tightly, because as the dough keeps growing it keeps giving off gas, and keeping it covered tightly will make the container explode (Yowza!). Sourdough is a living thing and it needs air!

  3. The best temperature for sourdough to grow is 70~80 degree F. That’s why SF is so famous for sourdough! Not a resident in this part of planet? No problem! You can create a microclimate in your kitchen by turning on your oven for about one minute, turn it off, and stick in a baking pan filled with hot water to have the right temperature and moisture.

Now what?

Now you have a successful sourdough starter, you can pass it on from generation to generation and go around showing it off too! The only thing you need to do is to feed the sourdough from time to time. Hey it’s a living thing after all!

Feeding and passing the sourdough starter:

Every time you take out some starter to bake something or give it to someone, simply replenish by adding 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour (or any amount, just make sure water : flour = 1 : 1), mix well, and let it sit at room temperature for a 1 day before putting the container back to the fridge for storage.

The same goes if you don’t have enough starter, simply stir 2 cups warm water and 2 cups flour (or equal amount of water and flour) together, mix well, leave it at room temperature overnight. The next day, remove what you need for the recipe, and keep the rest in the fridge, or keep feeding it.

Bake something with the sourdough starter!

Sourdough Waffles

To make 4~5 waffles with a standard sized waffle iron:

  • 2 cups sourdough starter

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • ¼ cup melted butter

Stir all ingredients together, mix well, and cook on a waffle iron.

Sourdough Cake


  • 1 cup sugar

  • ½ cup butter, softened

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1½ cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup sourdough starter

  • ½ cup milk


  1. In bowl #1, use an electric mixer, or stand mixer, cream sugar and butter;

  2. Beat in the eggs, then add the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy;

  3. In bowl #2, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt;

  4. In bowl #3, mix the starter and milk;

  5. To bowl #1, add half of the ingredients in bowl #2, and that in bowl #3, mix well; then add the remaining halves, mix well; scrape down the sides of bowl #1, beat until batter is smooth.

  6. Pour batter into a greases 9’’ square pan, bake at 350 degrees F for 35~40 minutes. If you prefer cupcakes, spoon batter into 12 cupcake tins, bake at 350 degrees F for 20~25 minutes.

Watson’s Notes:

Sourdough Waffles are so yummy I can eat it for breakfast, snack and afternoon tea every day!

Can someone now take my sourdough starter and start making some sourdough bread?!

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