I struggle a lot with baking sourdough bread and usually just cook the sourdough starter itself by frying it in some oil. However, I want to avoid the oil and was thinking if there is any way to cook sourdough starter with just some salt and nothing else (in particular, no oil). I found out that boiling sourdough starter, even after mixing it with some water, is not a good idea because the dough tends to settle down at the bottom and start burning. This gave me the idea that it might be better to indirectly boil it in a hot water bath. Will this give good results? And for this to work well, should I mix some water with the starter? Should I try to minimize the amount of starter I cook at once to avoid uneven cooking?

  • What are you trying to do? There are sourdough-based soups, you can look into recipes for them.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 16:07
  • Toss it in a well-heated non-stick waffle or pizzelle iron (or non-stick pan) and it cooks just fine, IMPE. Or throw it on parchment or a silpat on a baking sheet at 400-430°F and it makes flatbread (how flat depending how wet it started.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 16:28
  • What are you doing? Could you explain the sourdough starter itself versus sourdough bread?
    – MaxW
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 17:16
  • @rumtscho honestly, my main goal is to maximize the nutrition I'm getting from the whole wheat flour that I have. This means as much reduction of phytic acid, oxalates, gluten etc in the flour as possible. This is why I over ferment my sourdough. This is also likely the reason I find it difficult to bake bread from it. A soup sounds like just the thing I'm looking for. Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


Cooking the starter in a wet environment will vary based on how wet your starter is and on how dense it is. If it floats, then in theory you could boil it like a bagel, thought it may not have a great crust. At that point you could try baking it to get a more brown crust.

If your starter is more wet and flows, then you could try cooking it in a dry pan. You will need to cook it at a lower temperature since you won't have the oil conducting heat as well. This might be more akin to cooking a tortilla/pita/flat bread of some kind.

Your goal should be to cook it slowly so it sets up and then should release from the pan. Even using a very small amount of oil will help avoid sticking. This will be a lot more challenging with a stainless steel pan. You could also use some parchment paper if you're still struggling with sticking.

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    Yeah, just commit to mixing in enough flour to get to bagel consistency and wait an appropriate time for the dough to rise and it should boil (and float) just fine. Try to avoid the Paddington bear approach to dumplings, which is more or less what you'd be making if not bageling by baking afterwards.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 16:35
  • Since my sourdough discard is usually highly over-fermented and flows like honey when scooped up, I am considering your second option - "to cook it at a lower temperature since you won't have the oil conducting heat as well." To get that low temperature, wouldn't a hot water bath be suitable? I'm thinking discard spread out on a Le Creuset Dutch oven which is set afloat on boiling water (the hot water bath). My only doubt is whether the cooking will really be even with such a method. Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 17:24
  • The difficulty with the water bath is that over-fermented starter is very liquidy and has lost almost all of it's gluten since that is what the bacteria are eating. This means you will end up making sourdough soup. So for cooking on a pan, you will need to keep it on a low to very low heat and plan on it taking awhile.
    – hodale
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 13:14
  • @hodale I actually have no issue with soup. As long as it doesn't cause an upset stomach, which means it gets thoroughly cooked, I am fine with the end-product. Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 15:01
  • 1
    @hodale Speaking as a microbiologist - the gluten isn't gone at all. Yeasts and bacteria, which make up almost all of the microflora in sourdough starters mostly work off simple sugars and can sometimes break down complex sugars -> simple sugars. Proteins generally don't get used a lot unless in the form of amino-acid residues. The bacteria do produce proteolytic enzymes which will reduce gluten, but not remove it.
    – bob1
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 20:49

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