Sourdough is, for so many home bakers, the final frontier of baking. It's messy, it's arcane—it's got all the complexity of regular bread baking, and more. It's something artisan bread bakers use to turn out breathtaking whole-grain boules and those elusive, hearth-baked baguettes. It's mystical.
Whole-grain boules are great. I can hardly claim to be immune to their charm, having first been drawn into sourdough through a flurry of Brotform-buying in Munich. But the idea that sourdough starter is only of use when connected to a great collection of proofing baskets, lames, and long rising times is nonsense. Sourdough starter doesn't even have to be used for bread.
In fact, the one person in my life maintaining a starter, when I was little, never used it for bread as far as I know. My paternal grandmother got her sourdough starter from my parents, who got theirs from my maternal grandmother, who was given some by a friend. Neither my parents nor my mother's mother maintained theirs. To my father's mother, however, the sourdough was a revelation—a magical shortcut, perhaps. The plucky, anti-feminine mystique lady was generally acknowledged to have cooked out what little kitchen enthusiasm she'd had while raising 10 kids. Even before the first grandchild was born, she'd long fallen back on overcooked macaroni and cheese, Spam, and similar canned oddities. Using a recipe that had accompanied the starter gift, though, she used the starter to turn out fuss-free coffeecake day after day for herself, my grandfather, and whatever acquaintances or family members happened to be staying as houseguests.