John’s mom’s side of the family is straight from Italy, and apparently pizzelles are a staple in their household. Pizzelles are basically thin little waffle-like cookies that are served as desserts, appetizers, or in our case just a healthy snack. And because you know I love using my sourdough starter, I decided to make a recipe for sourdough pizzelles that were all natural and sweetened only with maple sugar. Oh, the beauty of sourdough!
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What is a pizzelle?
Two years ago if you would have asked me what a pizzelle was, I would have thought you were talking about a pizza.
When I first met my husband’s family, his mom served us these thin little waffle cookies called “pizzelles” and I graciously accepted them but honestly had no idea what they were. I actually thought they were quite funny looking. Why isn’t it just a regular cookie?
Then John’s mom gave us our own pizzelle maker, and naturally I got so excited to learn a new trade. To me, cooking is definitely an art. If you give me a new device, I’m going to play with it until my heart is content, that’s for sure!
A pizzelle is a traditional Italian waffle-like cookie that we’ve made here with sourdough starter and maple syrup as a sweetener. We eat these as a snack with peanut butter, breakfast with cream cheese, and dessert with chocolate!
What’s the deal with sourdough?
“But how do you make the sourdough?” Mrs. Boast asked.
“You start it,” said Ma, “by putting some flour and warm water in a jar and letting it stand till it sours” – Laura Ingalls Wilder By the Shores of Silver Lake
Sourdough is the process of taking milled flour grain mixed with water and letting it sit long enough for the grains to ferment. This is the “sour” flavor that many of us love in our bread. Traditional sourdough is highly fermented and acidic, making it tasty and easily digestible.
Why is sourdough good for you?
The process of fermentation goes beyond just bread. You’ve probably heard at some point that sauerkraut is so good for “gut health”. This is because of the lactic-acid-producing bacteria, also known as “good bacteria”, that takes over fermented vegetables, dairy, or grain. Our mouths, stomach, intestines, and reproductive organs contain a flora that also produces this acid.
Unfortunately, nowadays many bread products are made with industrialized yeast because it rises faster and is easier to work with. However, commercialized bread products, much like many other processed food in our world today, have much less nutritional value than their original form.
Because of this, many grain products are difficult to digest, leaving people with grain intolerances and gut problems.
It’s crazy to me that simply mixing your grains with water and leaving them on the counter at room temperature can turn them into something so easily digested by the body! It’s for this reason that we chose to eat sourdough whenever possible.
Classic Pizzelles vs. My Sourdough Pizzelle Recipe
I have to give a little disclaimer that I have modified pizzelles from their original form. Originally, pizzelles are made with flour, sugar, butter, and anise (the licorice flavor). John and I both don’t like this flavor, so we substituted it out for vanilla extract. I also changed the flour out for sourdough, and took away most of the sugar except for a 1/4 cup of maple syrup.
And viola, what remains is a simple healthy sourdough pizzelle cookie.
What To Serve Pizzelles With
Here are a few of our favorite ways to east pizzelles:
Serve with cream cheese and topped with strawberries
Serve with scrambled eggs on top and sprinkled with dried herbs
Spread peanut butter and jelly inside of two pizzelles and make a sandwich
Top with hummus and serve with carrots or celery
Spread honey on top and drizzle chopped nuts, like pistachios
Combine chocolate chips and cow’s cream on the stove. Melt, then drizzle or dip the pizzelle in the homemade chocolate sauce.
Crush raspberries and combine with sugar, honey, and flour (as a thickener) for a homemade berry pie filling.
You Will Need
large mixing bowl
small mixing bowl for fermenting overnight
Ingredients for Sourdough Pizzelles
As with all sourdough products, you’ll want to start this one the night before if you want the full fermentation process. If you don’t care how much the grains are fermented, you could whip this together in a hurry. You just won’t be receiving the benefits of the fermented grain.
The night before:
One quarter cup fed sourdough starter
One half cup filtered water
1 Cup flour
The day of:
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs (we use farm-fresh)
1/2 cup maple syrup
Half teaspoon salt
Teaspoon vanilla extract
Half teaspoon baking soda
One stick mostly melted butter
coconut oil – optional, for if the pan is sticky
The Process – Sourdough Pizzelles
In order to get the full benefits of the fermented flour grains, you’ll want to start this the night before. If you’re already in need of a recipe and don’t have the time, you can still make this, it just won’t have all the benefits of fermentation.
The night before, combine the sourdough starter, water, and flour in a small bowl and knead with your hands until dough is formed. Cover with a tea towel and let sit on your counter overnight.
The day of, get your fermented dough out and add the remaining flour, eggs, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and butter. Stir with a spoon or use your hands. I like to use my hands for this part because the dough is so thick. You might feel like the ingredients are not mixing well, but just keep going and soon they will be come integrated.
Turn your pizzelle press on. When it’s ready the green “ready” light will turn on if you have the same press we do. Pour about a tablespoon of pizzelle dough into the press and close it until it clicks. Leave it, and when it’s ready again the green light will turn on. Open the press back up and carefully remove your pizzelle from the pan with a spatula.
Watch: Sourdough Pizzelles Tutorial
Tips for Making Pizzelles
I was told this when I first started making pizzelles and now I’m telling you. For some reason, the first couple never turn out that great. You’ll hit your stride on the 3rd try though, trust me. I think it’s figuring out how much dough to put in or maybe the press isn’t ready yet. Either way, don’t worry if your first couple look a little funky. Those are great taste testers!
Use coconut oil in the press if you need to. Usually I will put some on at first and then I won’t need to add any more after that. The butter in the dough should be enough fat to prevent sticking. And boy, we love butter!
If you want to curve the pizzelle like a burrito, you must do it the second it gets out of the press. If you wait, it’s too late. The pizzelles harden immediately when taken out so if you want to fold them, do it right away. Simply start rolling one edge down the center and then press and hold at the top for about 20 seconds until the cookie is set.
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- Pizzelle Press
- Mixing bowl
The night before:
- 1/4 C sourdough starter
- 1/2 C filtered water
- 1 C flour
The day of:
- 1/2 C flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 C maple syrup
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 t vanilla
- 1/2 t baking soda
- The night before, combine the sourdough starter, water, and flour in a small bowl and knead with your hands until dough is formed. Cover with a tea towel and let sit on your counter overnight.
- The day of, get your fermented dough out and add the remaining flour, eggs, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and butter. Stir with a spoon or use your hands. I like to use my hands for this part because the dough is so thick. You might feel like the ingredients are not mixing well, but just keep going and soon they will become integrated.
- Turn your pizzelle press on. When it's ready the green "ready" light will turn on if you have the same press we do. Pour about a tablespoon of pizzelle dough into the press and close it until it clicks. Leave it, and when it's ready again the green light will turn on. Open the press back up and carefully remove your pizzelle from the pan with a spatula.
- Lay flat to harden or immediately curve the pizzelle like a burrito. If you want to create the burrito, make sure you do it right out of the oven. Pizzelles start hardening right away, so if you wait it will be too late.
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