Worry not. You can make the most delicious crumpets which may not look as neat and tidy as the ones you buy in the shop but which taste in a totally different league and which are so, so frugal, you wouldn't believe it!
(By the way, they're crumpets if you have crumpet rings so can make them taller and pikelets if you make them without rings, like thick pancakes, OK?)
So, let's assume you have fed your starter and you have discard . . .
For every cup ( that's 240mls) of discard, add 1 tsp sugar and half tsp salt and mix well.
Using oil, grease the base of a solid pan and also round the inside of the ring (or rings, if you're using more than one). Put the rings into the pan and heat it up to a medium heat.
When the pan and rings are hot, into the batter add half a tsp of bicarb. The batter will fizz up, perhaps quite alarmingly. Fear not.
Using a ladle, pour batter into each ring to around half full, depending on the height of the ring.
Let it cook slowly and be patient. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat; all that will happen is that the base will burn before the top has set. You will see bubbles rising to the top and they start to look like real crumpets! You can see the edges of the crumpet just starting to set in the photo above.
When the top has set, carefully run a knife around the inside of the rings to loosen the crumpets - be careful, they are very hot. Mine sometimes stick. Then turn the crumpet over to brown the bubble side briefly.
This is the sort of baseyou are looking for.
Then allow them to cool on a wire rack. If you make more than one batch, clean the rings in between, re-oil and reheat. Once cool, they freeze well.
This is a long explanation of what is actually an extremely simple process, if somewhat long winded. Just be patient and, to repeat, don't turn the heat up more as all you will have is a burnt base and rawness in the middle.
As for cost, well, tricky one.
The original starter costs about 5p for the yeast, about 1p for the sugar and salt and about 4p for the flour (maybe more, if you use expensive flour; less if you have a nice friend who gets bags cheaply for you, like me).
After that, you are adding just flour and water so the yeast, salt and sugar are one offs and become less significant every time you feed your sourdough.
For your one cup of discard plus additions, you get four crumpets or eight pikelets.
It is well nigh impossible to price precisely but I estimate about 2p per crumpet. It's not more, probably less. If you make pikelets, you get more so definitely 1p each.
Really, really frugal as well as utterly satisfying.
As for the sourdough, once you have used the discard and fed what remains, you can keep it covered in the fridge and feed it just once a week or so. It's a lively, living thing and re-activates quickly.
You can, of course, make sourdough bread with it, but that's a different matter altogether! I don't keep sourdough to make bread very much! I want crumpets!