Too Much Sourdough Starter? No problem! Add treats for the puppies to your baking routine.
Like many of you, I’ve had a major sourdough bug since mid-March. I’ve wanted to delve into creating and maintaining a starter for ages but never seemed to have time to devote myself to this topic. But then came Covid-19 and protection and social distancing, which made it the perfect time to do just that. (It’s encouraging to know that this baking craze has taken the world by storm. Listen to this Washington Post podcast to see why this might be the case.)
As I got my starter into a sturdy, bubbly state, I found that almost everything to do with it – from flour to proofing baskets to wheatberries – was almost impossible to buy. Even nifty household gadgets for grinding your own flour or the super cool Brod & Taylor folding checkers and slow cookers are in such demand that they have been blown off the shelves and are now on many waiting lists, including my own.
As those of you who share this passion know, caring for your starter means feeding them regularly. To do this, you have to tear down part of your “mother” culture and (presumably) throw it away. I can’t stand throwing this excess away, so I’ve been looking for recipes that use starter discards. So far I have made amazing English sourdough muffins with one recipe from King Arthur Flour and pancakes, banana bread and waffles with three delicious recipes from ThePerfectLoaf. Both sites also have recipes for different types of bread, as do the really helpful folks at Breadtopia.
My three dogs love this baking craze. Sometimes I made them into super easy launching and dropping crumpets (fitting name, isn’t it?). I also made crunchy croutons from leftover bread and added lots of olive oil for its antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which makes the croutons a nutritious snack for them.
Then the other day, since I hadn’t come across sourdough recipes specifically for dog treats, I decide to whip up my own and make a batch of mini oatmeal sourdough bread / cookies just for them.
To make the oatmeal, I followed the directions of one of my favorite food bloggers, Kathryne Taylor from Cookie + Kate. (She once contributed a great recipe for dog fritters to the magazine.) Oats are a great source of phosphorus and magnesium, and are also high in vitamins B1, B12, and folic acid. And depending on which oat product you start with, these can also be gluten-free. I also added canned organic pumpkin, which is exceptionally high in carotenoids, potassium, vitamin C and easily digestible fiber to give the biscuits a particularly nutritious boost.
This is one of those recipes that you can add or remove ingredients to, depending on what’s in your pantry. Preparing food or treats for dogs is particularly fun and very easy. There’s really no cooking flop – your dog will be perfectly happy with whatever you do.
This recipe reflects the ingredients I had on hand that I knew were nutritious. Note that when baking, it is best to weigh both the liquid and dry ingredients with a kitchen scale.
Sourdough oat / pumpkin dog biscuits
Preheat the oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
- 113 grams of oatmeal
- 113 grams of whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon. Baking soda
- 3 TBSP. Pumpkin, mashed
- 1 tablespoon. Each pumpkin seed (or sunflower seed), ground 1 tbsp. Flax seeds, ground chia seeds
- 1 cup of low-fat milk. Or replace plant-based milk like almonds, hemp, oats, or whey (I always have whey on hand to make Greek-style yogurt.)
- 1 egg
- 4 oz. (113 g) sourdough starter, seasoned or “throw away”.
1. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Mix the liquid (milk or whey) and egg in a medium bowl, stir in the pumpkin puree, then stir in the appetizer and break it open with a whisk or your fingers.
3. Add the dry ingredients with the liquids to the bowl and mix. Note: The dough should be dense but quite sticky. If needed, add more flour or liquid for easier handling.
4. Similar to how you would make biscuits, drop a tablespoon of batter on the baking sheet, leaving space between each biscuit. Note: They tend to rise more than they expand.
5. Moisten a fork and lightly press each biscuit to a thickness of about ¼ inch. [Optional: carefully sprinkle a little sesame seed on each biscuit].
6. Approx. Bake for 45 minutes. up to 1 hour or until the cookies are lightly brown.
A teaspoon can be used to make smaller cookies. While the larger size is pretty crispy, it’s easy to break into smaller pieces.
This recipe makes about 20 of the larger (1 tbsp) cookies. Put some in a tightly closed container and store in the refrigerator, where they will last for five to seven days. Freeze the rest in a plastic freezer bag.
If any of you sourdough starter fans have their own treat recipes, I’d love to hear about them!