Chewy Sourdough Granola Bars

And how was everyone’s long weekend? Here’s a brief account of mine:

Saturday morning: I feed and build up my sourdough starter for baking later in the day. I take off for points north, to my sometime-house, starter and dog in tow, for a peaceful and barbecue-free weekend.

Saturday afternoon: I check the weather report before heading out for a late walk: cloudy; chance of precipitation: 10%. 30 minutes from home, I observe that the chance of precipitation is actually 100%. I arrive, soggy and chilled, back home to a power outage. The starter sits on the counter, all happy and bubbly with anticipation. “Oh, go to hell,” I mutter, and toss it into the darkened refrigerator before peeling off my waterlogged clothes and crawling under a blanket.

Sunday: Sunshine and electricity are both restored to working order. I avoid forlorn and accusing glances from my now-flat starter by avoiding the refrigerator altogether.

Monday: Confrontation cannot be averted forever. I open the fridge. “Bake with me.” “You’re sounding pretty chipper for old and tired starter. But no. The weekend is almost over, we have to head back in a bit. There’s no time for baking.” “Bake with me!” “I said no.” “You are evil and the baking gods will rain upon you forever.” “Anyway, you’re too cold and weak right now to raise bread.” “Pancakes, then.” “We have no eggs. Too bad.” “We have a bunch of odds and ends of nuts and dried fruits.” “I don’t know what to do with those. I don’t have a recipe.” “Make something up.” At this point, it just seems easier to start throwing things randomly into a bowl than to keep arguing with the damn thing.

Now these are not my idea of the ultimate granola bar. They are a little too peanut-buttery. A bit too thin. The nuts and seeds could stand pre-toasting. Dried cranberries are not my favorite. But as a way to appease my insistent starter (oh, and as a point of departure for what I think could be a really good recipe with some future tweaking), they’re not bad.

Chewy Sourdough Granola Bars Take One

Yield: 15 bars

Time:

  • Mix: 10 minutes
  • Bake: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 75 g golden raisins
  • 75 g dried cranberries
  • 75 g pumpkin seeds
  • 50 g walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 50 g pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 100 g rolled oats
  • 8 g salt
  • 100 g unsalted smooth peanut butter
  • 100 g honey
  • 200 g refrigerated 100%-hydration sourdough starter toss-off

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Butter a 9 x 13-inch pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the raisins, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, oats, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and the honey.
  5. Add the peanut butter mixture and the starter to the fruit mixture. Mix with your hands until everything is evenly incorporated.
  6. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until nicely brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    RE: hydration: I keep my starter at about 65%; do you think I could just thin it a bit and expect decent results? I am always looking for ways to use “starter discard”.

  2. Janknitz says

    Hey, those look yummy!

    And I totally get the conversations.

    I don’t always have time to bake a bread with my starter and it makes me feel so guilty when I discard then feed and stick it back in the fridge! My compost bucket complains, too!

  3. says

    I’m happy (relieved) to learn that I’m not the only one lugging the starter with me on trips. Mine happily travels from Vancouver, British Columbia to Phoenix, AZ. Now, I just need to start to listen to it more closely. These granola bars are so enticing.

  4. says

    This article had me smiling from ear to ear. I too have a demanding starter that insists on being utilized in different ways. We just recently started making homemade granola bars for our hotel guests who go out on hikes. I never would have thought to use a sourdough starter for a binder and flavor. This is definitely something we’ll research further.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. says

    Wow! I am glad my starters have not yet won… but I am sure they will… anyway, the bars look terrific, it was a wonderful idea, and NOW you know what it’s like to live in Washington… 100% chance 100% of the time :) But I still go on walks and ride my bike anyway, cause my bike talks to me… :)

  6. says

    My starter (Dan is his name) will start a long trip with us next week – a couple of thousand miles.

    I will refresh him, and he will bubble away during the two day journey

    me, hubby, two dogs, and Dan! :-)

    He talks to me too, as well as other pantry items – quinoa can be quite nagging!

  7. says

    Its good to know that I am not the only one who talks with her starter, food and experiments ;-) The granola bars look great, I think I will play with the recipe a bit :-)

  8. says

    Susan, this looks delicious and healthy. You have a lucky starter, I used non talking yeast for my Nutty Fruity Pie. But, maybe I’m not listening good enough to my dry yeast? My starter has a loud and clear voice.

  9. says

    This almost (but not quite) makes me want to capture yeast again so I too can have a dish of starter screaming at me constantly to “feed me!! feed me!!”. (Offtopic: Have you seen that amazing video of a bird feeding its chicks? The size of their mouths is remarkable.)

    Well done on figuring out a fun thing to do with the leftovers.

  10. Janknitz says

    OK, I made these this weekend and they were yummy.

    A couple of things:
    1. I toasted the walnuts and pumpkin seeds lightly (pecans were already toasted) and added the peanut butter to the warm nuts so it melted in and was easier to mix.
    2. I didn’t have enough honey, so I added some maple syrup–yum!
    3. It needs “something”–not sure what. My kids say chocolate chips. I’m thinking perhaps some cinnamon or powdered ginger?

    I sliced these and wrapped them for a road trip we start tomorrow. The best part is my kids think they’re a “hippie dippie mom thing” will leave them for me and my husband while they eat the other not so tasty snacks.

  11. says

    Celeste, yes, to keep the recipe more or less the same you could figure out how much of your starter you need to contribute the same amount of flour as mine did (100 g), and then add enough water to make it 100% hydration.

    Janknitz, I was thinking a spice would be a nice addition. Maple syrup sounds delicious! Thanks for giving the recipe a try. Maybe between all of us we can come up with the ulitmate sourdough granola bar!

  12. says

    am about to make these Monday @ our community bakery. any more changes from folks who’ve tried the recipe? will try toasting nuts and adding cinnamon, maybe cherries instead of cranberries too.

  13. says

    Tim, when I make these again I will increase the batch size by 50% for the same size pan to make them thicker. Haven’t done it yet, though.

  14. Daniel says

    Hi Susan, thanks for running such a wonderful source of information and inspiration. A friend (http://foodscratch.wordpress.com/) recommended Wild Yeast when I wanted to start making sourdough 6 months ago. Since then my starter has been used and abused, fed up on rye flour then consigned to the fridge for three weeks at a time while I travel for work.

    Resuscitating the starter has meant numerous batches of pancakes to use the discard, and this granola recipe made a great alternative.

    The batch I made used a higher proportion of seeds and nuts etc to the starter, and they were toasted, along with rolled oats. The thicker bar had a nice contrast of crisp and chewy, but I am undecided whether I enjoy the sourness from the old starter or not. Maybe when it is fresher and less acidic.
    All in all though, a great starting point.

  15. Jennifred says

    Great sounding recipe! Have made granola for years with coconut oil and a variety of dried nuts, fruits, extracts…even blackstrap for some manly granola…which tastes pretty good! Use black walnuts for good flavor..and combined with maple syrup. However, my sons have requested granola bars, and all the recipes I’ve tried they fall apart. Will try the sourdough recipe; perhaps that is the ‘glue’ that will hold them together.
    Will get back with the results later this week-hopefully:)

  16. Megan Miller says

    Thank you for this creative use of leftover starter! I have simply taken my usual granola bars recipe and replaced the flour and some of the oil to make delicious, chewy granola bars my kids love.
    I have also successfully replaced some more of the oil with nut butter (peanut or others). I have made them several times now, over the last 3 months, and every time it turns out great. (But maybe that’s because anything with mini chocolate chips turns out great?)

  17. Britny says

    I made these yesterday and we have hardly any left. I toasted the seeds and nuts which made them incredible! I had to substitute dates and mango because that’s what I had around the kitchen for dried fruit. And I added some unsweetened coconut flakes. If they last long enough they would make a good grab and go breakfast or snack.

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