Sourdough banana bread

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This seemed like an obvious use for some discarded sourdough starter.

Our usual banana bread recipe from Cooks Illustrated calls for a quarter cup of yogurt. I swapped in a quarter cup of leftover sourdough starter.

For better or worse, the results were indistinguishable from the usual recipe — not more interesting, but also not freakishly sour or anything (unlike our latest pancakes, which have so much discarded starter that they are freakishly sour).

Molasses spice cookies

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I made a batch of cookies for a family party this weekend. This is the Molasses Spice Cookies recipe from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe cookbook.

I always get good results with this recipe, but I’ve never had the cookies stay so thick before. Usually they spread out on the pan and run together. The difference? This time I made sure to follow the recipe EXACTLY. Imagine that.

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Thin wheat crackers

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This is Peter Reinhart’s version of Wheat Thin crackers, which we buy a lot of in our house.

The recipe is in his Whole Grain Breads cookbook. This is the second batch I made. The first got so dark so quickly that I had to throw away half the batch. The second time I used sugar instead of honey and took the pan out of the oven early.

Mine came out thicker than Wheat Thins, but they taste surprisingly similar. They didn’t last long. Fortunately it’s easy to make another batch.

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Sourdough pancakes

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We are on a crazy pancake kick in our house right now.

I woke up Jim’s sourdough starter, inspired by the book that got him to grow one in the first place — Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan.

Except I hate throwing out 80 percent of the starter every day during the feeding. So I looked up ideas for using the extra starter. Pancakes!

Some recipes use the starter as the only flour in the batter, but I’ve got only about a half cup of starter a day to use. So for the first batch I just added my extra starter to a half batch of my go-to pancake recipe.

The recipe is from The New Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook (copyright 1986), but I use it so often that I keep the ingredients taped to the whole wheat flour bin in the cupboard.

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I almost always stir in stuff at the end — leftover oatmeal, pureed pumpkin or squash, frozen blueberries.

For the sourdough version, I replaced the baking powder with 1/2 tsp. baking soda. In addition to the starter, I stirred in some canned pumpkin.

The kids cannot get enough of these. I’ve made three or four batches in one week. They are gone almost as soon as I make them.

The sourdough/baking soda makes them very fluffy, just like Laurel’s buttermilk variation. I find the flavor more interesting, but also a little more watered down … which makes sense because the moisture in the starter is water, when usually the liquid is all milk.

Oh, and I put my pancakes on a cooling rack so they don’t get soggy on the bottom (which happens when they rest on a plate) and so the extras can cool off to get stored in the fridge — warmed in the toaster the next day they make a very quick breakfast.