With more people forced inside and looking for things to soothe their anxious minds, breadmaking is on the rise. Even a quick glance at social media finds thousands of bakers rolling in dough — particularly sourdough.

That’s no surprise to Scott Watson, executive chef at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, part of Outreach and International Affairs. “Baking is a very comforting thing to do in times like these,” he says. “Even though baking — and baking sourdough, in particular — can be almost ‘scientific,’ it’s also very therapeutic.”

Originally from Richmond, Watson started at the Inn in 2018. He says he learned to bake by watching his mom. He developed a recipe for sourdough crumpets as a way to use up excess sourdough starter.

“As a chef, I hate wasting food,” he says. “My starter is 2 months old, and the discard has a wonderful sour taste and aroma. Why throw it away? So I had to develop a way to use it.”

He says the discard is what many bakers throw away while “feeding” their starter. “If you never discard or repurpose some of it, you will have a 5-gallon bucket of starter within two months,” Watson says.

A crumpet is a griddle cake similar to an English muffin. Watson recommends serving them warm with a local Virginia apple butter.

For more recipes, follow Preston's and Continental Divide on Facebook.

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Servings: 4-5 crumpets

1 cup sourdough starter discard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Place the sourdough starter discard in a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt.

Add baking soda. The batter should rise and bubble.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Lightly grease the skillet with oil and a small piece of butter for flavor.

Spray a round, metal cookie cutter with nonstick spray or oil and place in the center of the skillet. Scoop the batter into the center of the cookie cutter.

Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the top of the batter is set and full of small holes. Flip the crumpet and remove the cookie cutter ring. This should come right off; if it doesn’t, gently cut around it with a butter knife.

Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter and jam or cut in half and toast. 

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