I think of myself as both a waffle purist and innovator, so while I love using new ingredients in interesting ways, I believe they should be done within the framework of tradition. That’s why I think sourdough waffles are basically crazy and completely antithetical to what waffles are meant to be. Let me explain…

Sourdough is the most primitive of leavening techniques – predating the use of ale yeast, chemical leavening, whipped egg whites, and baker’s yeast. As waffles came about in 15th and 16th century Europe, ale yeast (and the mellow flavors it produced in fine baked goods) had already begun to take hold in baking and was universally preferred for use in waffles. Sourdough/levain was frowned upon by the upper classes in anything they ate, and particularly when it came to treats like brioche and waffles, delicate flavors were what people of all classes desired.

When I look back through waffle recipes, running up through the mid-19th century, there’s not a single one that suggests using sourdough/levain. It’s only in the late 19th and 20th centuries that the idea of sourdough waffles took shape, essentially as a bastardization of established recipes.

The above said, the recipes you now find for sourdough waffles only add insult to injury. They’re flavored with sourdough starter, deflated and then “fluffed” with baking soda; that defeats the whole point of what could otherwise be a naturally-leavened waffle. If people must have sourdough waffles, then I want to work out a recipe that’s purely leavened by it and which is as solid as any other recipe I’ve composed here. So below is the first experiment. We’ll see how it all shapes up.

Sourdough Waffles

makes 1 round American-style waffle


Preheat the waffle iron to 191°C/375°F

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. Add the sourdough, warmed egg and melted butter.

3. Then add about 1/2 of the milk, and whisk to blend the ingredients.

4. Add the remaining milk, and finish blending the ingredients. The batter will be fairly thin and smooth.

5. Allow the batter to rise for ~4 hours, until it increased ~75% in volume.

5. Pour the mix into the preheated iron and cook for 3 minutes 25 seconds.

Remove the waffle from the iron and place on a wire rack to cool. When the waffle has cooled below 49°C/120°F, place the waffle back into the iron to cook for 10 seconds longer. Serve immediately.