Crusty Sourdough Discard Rolls Experiment: Reliable, Valid, and Delicious results

Admittedly, I have yet to decide where I stand on the definition of sourdough starter discard and creating opportunities where one would end up with it. However, in my quest to use my discard to learn more about both its potential and different flour combinations, I’ve enjoyed a number of successful baking experiments. My most recent one began on December 16, 2020, when I found some 6 day old discard in my fridge and asked myself the following question. Can I make rolls with the same appearance, texture, and flavor of full sized loaves?

After three recipes iterations and a successful bake by my baking buddy Melissa Johnson, I’m quite certain that the answer to this question is a resounding yes.

Recipe Parameters: In line with many sourdough roll recipes I kept recipe iterations in this experiment between 65 and 70% hydration, included 22% all-purpose flour for a lighter crumb texture, and made sure each roll weighed no more than 220g prior to baking. Next, as with the majority of my full sized loaf recipes, I used between 18 and 20% starter so that bulk fermentation would progress at a similar rate until preshaping. Lastly, as in many roll and loaf recipes, I added extra virgin olive oil in the second and third iterations of this experiment to create a soft crumb texture.

Techniques use: With an enriched dough being defined in this case as a dough that has had butter and or sugar added to it. All dough preparation techniques used in this experiment were the same as any non-enriched sourdough until pre-shaping. Though I will note that one December 16th, I preshaped each roll’s dough like I would a full loaf, but changed coarse when shaping iterations 2 (December 17th) and 3 (December 31st) and pre and final shaped my dough segments the same way (cupped hands rotating and pulling the dough to create tension).

When it came to proofing I used both 8 and 16oz plastic take out containers (see photo) to help each roll retain its shape while proofing in the fridge over night. (see below for alternative proofing vessels)

Baking the rolls went much like baking full sized loaves. I used both my Lodge combo cooker and Challenger Breadware bread pan to bake four rolls at a time. However, baking on a baking stone or steel with a tray of hot water below for steam would work as well. Lastly, for aesthetics I misted each rolls after scoring to achieve a blistery and crispy crust.

Recipe: Makes 8 rolls

185g Sourdough Starter Discard (100% hydration) – 20% inoculation 

305g Bread Flour – 33.5%

200g All-Purpose Flour – 22%

140g Hard Red Spring Wheat Flour – 15.4%

130g Turkey Red Flour (freshly milled berries) or another hard red wheat flour – 14.3%

135g Whole Rye Flour – 14.8%

610g Water – 70% total dough hydration

21g Salt – 2% 

22g Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2.2%

Instructions/Process: 

  1. Mix flours and salt then incorporate the sourdough starter discard, water, and olive oil. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  2. During the first 2.5 hours of bulk fermentation perform 3 sets of stretch and folds. My bulk fermentation lasted just over 5.5 hours as 72F ( I used an infrared thermometer to measure the temp of the dough’s surface). 
  3. Once bulk fermentation is finished, transfer your dough onto a clean counter or large cutting board and divide into eight 210-215g portions. 
  4. Preshape each portion into a ball can be done to ways: A) by folding in the edges (like you would during a set of stretch and folds), flipping it over and rolling it tight with a cupped hand. B) Use your bowl or bench scraper to round the dough into a rough round and then use a cupped hand to roll it tight. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
  5. To final shape: Flour your hands to prevent them from sticking to the dough and once again roll each dough ball with a cupped hand to develop surface tension. Then transfer to a 8 or 16oz bowl or round plastic deli take out container that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Note: Small bowls or a baker’s couche (proofing clothe) can be substituted if needed.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap or quart sized Ziploc bag and proof overnight in the refrigerator (12-15 hours).
  7. Preheat over to 475F with a dutch oven (e.g. Challenger Bread Pan), baking stone, or baking steel (see techniques above) for 45-60 minutes.
  8. Dust the bottom of each roll with rice flour and transfer onto parchment paper, score, mist with water.
  9. Bake covered (with steam) at 475F for 20 minutes and then uncovered at 450F for 12-14 minutes i.e. until desired color is reached.
  10. Let cool and then enjoy!
Batch 2: front view
Batch 2: overhead view
Batch 3: overhead view
Batch 3: front view
Crumb of Batch 1

About Barry W

NJ (formerly NYC) based home brewer and fermented food enthusiast sharing his brewing, cooking, and baking adventures on thebrewedpalate.com.
This entry was posted in Sourdough Bread, sourdough discard recipes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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