Chocolate Banana Sourdough Muffins

Brown bananas and sourdough discard are two things that I am constantly looking for ways to use up in my kitchen. I’ve got a good sourdough discard banana bread recipe but this recipe for chocolate banana sourdough muffins hits me straight in my chocolate-loving heart. Chock full of banana, oats and sourdough I can at least pretend the health benefits outweigh the brown sugar. But seriously, these are decadent, delicious and you probably have all the ingredients you need on hand to make them today.

Sourdough Discard in Baked Goods

If you’re new around here, you may not know that I love baking with sourdough. I’ve got a whole bunch of recipes that use sourdough discard and sourdough starter. Because I refresh my sourdough starter often, I end up with quite a bit of leftover discard in my fridge. I don’t like this discard to go to waste, so I find muffins, waffles, crackers, pretzels and rolls to put it into. The sourdough discard enhances the flavor and creates less kitchen waste.

How Long Does Sourdough Discard Last?

Typically sourdough discard can last a couple of weeks in your refrigerator. The longer the discard sits in your fridge, the more fermented and sour it will taste. If you like this flavor in your baked goods, use discard that is older. For a more mellow flavor, use discard that is only a day or two old. If you love baking with sourdough but don’t want any sour flavor, use bubbly sourdough starter instead of the discard. You can use what you prefer. I typically use a 100% hydration sourdough discard–equal weights of water and flour mixed with the starter. If your discard is maintained at a different hydration you may need a splash of milk for a thicker discard or a little extra flour for a thinner discard.

Overripe Bananas and Ground Oats

Anytime you bake with bananas, whether it’s banana bread, banana muffins or these chocolate sourdough banana muffins, you will want to use overripe bananas. These brown or black bananas add a lot of flavor and moisture to the recipe. I also love the use of oats in this recipe. It gives an added punch of whole grains and combined with the flour gives a melt-in-your-mouth muffin texture. Grind up one cup of oats in a blender and mix it right in with the flour mixture. I haven’t used whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour in this recipe, but I bet either would substitute really well.

Good Quality Cocoa Powder

One of the key flavors in this recipe comes from the cocoa powder. I love this cocoa powder and buy it in bulk at Costco. It is deep, rich and flavorful. Use whatever cocoa powder you love, preferably one that has a rich flavor that will transfer through to the muffins. I also always use semi-sweet chocolate chips in this recipe. I prefer the rich taste of chocolate to come through. Good quality chocolate also helps mellow the sourdough discard flavor if you are using an older discard.

Mixing the Muffin Batter

Most of the time when I mix together this muffin batter I’ll smash the bananas, add the brown sugar, eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract and sourdough discard. I’ll mix that together really well until combined. Then I’ll add in the cocoa powder and mix it until incorporated. I’ll add the flour on top of the mixture and pour the salt and baking powder right on top of the flour, taking care not to get the salt/powder in the liquid mixture. I like to fluff the salt and baking powder using a fork to mix it into the flour (this saves me a bowl and makes clean up easier). Then I’ll add the ground oats on top and gently mix together the batter. Over-mixing muffing batter leads to gummy and dense muffins. I like my muffins light and airy so I don’t mind leaving a few little streaks of flour. Add in the chocolate chips for the perfect chocolatey banana muffin and stir gently before scooping and filling a 12 cup muffin tin.

Baking Temperature is The Key to a Nicely Risen Muffin

This recipe calls for baking the muffins at a high temperature of 400 degrees for the first 5 minutes and then reducing the temperature to 325 degrees for the last 15 minutes of baking. The reason: a perfectly risen muffin. The high heat helps activate the baking powder in the muffin which gives the muffin the perfect rise. If you don’t want to do this step, go ahead and bake the muffins at 325 degrees for the whole 20-22 minutes. You may not have quite the same bakery-quality rise, but they will still be delicious.

Don’t wait on these muffins! They are delicious warm and make for the perfect after school snack. Your family won’t even guess they have sourdough discard and whole grains in them. I hope you enjoy these chocolate banana sourdough muffins as much as we do!

These little fingers couldn’t wait to grab a muffin!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is my sourdough discard good for?

Sourdough discard is good for a couple of weeks refrigerated. After a couple of weeks my starter is a little too strong for me to enjoy in baked goods. If I haven’t used it up I will throw it away and start again.

Can I freeze brown and black bananas?

Yes! I love freezing my over-ripe bananas. They can stay good in the freezer for a couple of months. Before you use them in a recipe bring them back to room temperature and discard a bit of the liquid that collects before using in your recipe.

Can I make muffins in a blender?

You may think to use a blender to mix up all the ingredients of this recipe, but I would not. I’ve actually made this recipe in a blender and the muffins turned out gummy and dense. I prefer to mix lightly by hand which results in a light and fluffy muffin.

How do I store extra muffins?

Once muffins have cooled, store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. When you’d like to eat on, reheat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or let sit at room temperature until thawed.

Does this recipe make mini muffins?

This muffin recipe works great for mini muffins. Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 10-12 minutes more.

Chocolate Banana Sourdough Muffins

Amy
Chock full of banana, oats and sourdough discard, these chocolate banana sourdough muffins are decadent and delicious. These muffins can be whipped up quickly and make the perfect sweet treat, breakfast or after school snack.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Bread, Breakfast, Muffins
Cuisine American
Servings 12 muffins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats ground
  • 2 bananas over-ripe are best: brown or black bananas
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sourdough discard 100% hydration (see recipe notes)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Pour 1 cup of old fashioned oats into a blender. Process about 30 seconds until the oats are ground into a fine powder. Set aside.
  • To a medium-sized bowl, mash the brown/black bananas. Add the brown sugar, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir together to combine. Add the sourdough discard and stir until combined.
  • To a small bowl, whisk together the ground oats, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Add this dry mixture to the wet banana mixture. Stir until just combined. You should still see some streaks of flour throughout the batter.
  • Add the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and gently stir again until just incorporated. Over-mixing the batter can result in rubbery muffins. We are looking for light and tender muffins, so stir until just combined.
  • Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan. If using muffin liners, spray the muffin liners as well. Using a cookie scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, fill each muffin tin 3/4 of the way full.
  • Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. After 5 minutes reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes.
  • Let muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then turn out and place on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Notes

Sourdough Discard: I feed my starter with equal weights of water and flour for a 100% hydration starter. If your starter is fed differently, you will want to adjust the amount of flour called for in the recipe; adding more flour for a starter that is fed with a higher percentage of water and less flour for a lower hydration starter. The longer your discard sits in the fridge, the more “tang” it will have. I prefer using a younger discard in this recipe to balance with the other flavors.
Mini Muffins: This muffin recipe works great for mini muffins. Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 10-12 minutes more.
Storage: Once muffins have cooled, store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. When you’d like to eat one, reheat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or let sit at room temperature until thawed.
Keyword banana bread, banana muffins, chocolate banana bread, sourdough banana bread, sourdough muffins

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a very small amount from qualifying purchases.

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8 Days in Peru: A Couple’s Trip

For many years, visiting Machu Picchu in the Andes mountains has been on my bucket list. I’ve seen the pictures, I’ve read travel blogs and I’ve always wanted to go. With the events of the world the past two years, we are just now feeling comfortable to travel internationally again with vaccines available and as we watched the COVID case numbers decrease. Thanks to some awesome grandparents who came and helped with our kids, we were able to make this incredible couples trip to Peru happen. This post is all about the eight days we spent traveling in Peru and details our tips, tricks and favorite sites.

Wet Season or Dry Season?

When researching Machu Picchu, many websites talk about the wet and dry season in Peru. Wet season is typically November to March which is actually Peruvian summer. This means you can plan to expect intermittent rain showers and warmer weather (most days averaged from 50-70 degrees depending on our elevation). Dry season is typically from April to October with cooler, though still moderate, temperatures. Machu Picchu is open year round, but the Inca Trail closes during the month of February, so if you want to hike the trail, plan ahead. We arrived in Peru the last few days of February, acclimated to the elevation for a few days and hiked the Inca Trail on March 1st, the day it opened. We were one of only 4 small groups hiking the Inca Trail that day. It was incredible!

Sun Gate Tours

After purchasing our tickets to Lima (I like using Scott’s Cheap Flights—the free version for cheap airfare combined with Google Flights), I researched where we would want to go and what things we’d want to do. I found some amazing hotels but was having difficulty figuring out how to get from point A to point B over the course of our trip. Enter Sun Gate Tours! Initially I was planning to use them only for the Inca Trail portion of our trip but after seeing how accommodating, quick to respond and helpful they were, I asked them to quote us the entire trip. Sun Gate Tours gave us a reasonable price for a private 8 day tour of Peru with all transfers, admissions and some food included. They would have happily booked us hotels as well, but I was a little particular about our hotels and am so glad I was. Their tour guides always showed up 10-15 minutes early. They took very good care of us with safety precautions and were constantly checking in with us on how we were enjoying the trip. They booked us the best of the best: from picking the best side of the train to sit on to making sure we had delicious boxed lunches for all our excursions. The combination of Sun Gate Tours and the hotels we booked made this vacation amazing.

Our Itinerary

  • Day 1: Depart Kentucky. Flight to Atlanta. Overnight flight to Lima, arrive around 5 AM.
    • Airport Tip: If you are planning a domestic connection from Lima, give yourself plenty of time to get through customs at the airport. We landed in Lima shortly after the airport opened and it still took us 1 1/2 – 2 hours to clear customs with many flights arriving at the same time (very long lines)!
  • Day 2: Flight from Lima to Cusco. Check in to hotel and walking tour of Cusco.
    • Tip: We booked our flight from Lima to Cusco ourselves with LATAM Airlines. Give yourself plenty of time in the airport to get in between flights.
  • Day 3: Tour of the Sacred Valley: Pisaq, Lunch, Ollantaytambo
  • Day 4: ATV adventure to Moray ruins and Maras Salt Mines
    • Tip: Wear sunscreen on all exposed skin–even on your hands! We put sunscreen on our face and neck and wore long sleeves, but forgot that the tops of our hands were exposed while on our ATV adventure. With the high elevation, you will get sunburned with much shorter exposure time.
  • Day 5: Train to Km 104 and hike on the “short” (one-day) Inca Trail into Machu Picchu
    • Tip: Wear hiking boots (my favorite for my sensitive feet/heels) here and use a walking stick! Ask your guide if they will provide one for you. If not, bring one. It was invaluable to us on the rocky terrain. I cannot stress enough how helpful it was for getting up and down the terrain especially in some areas that were wet and slippery. Our guide Richard had collapsible versions for us that were very light but sturdy.
  • Day 6: Tour of Machu Picchu, Train/bus back to Cusco
    • Tip: Pack ponchos! The weather can be unpredictable and it was nice to have the ponchos when we needed them. We had rain jackets but the ponchos helped even more, especially to cover our backpacks during rainy periods.
  • Day 7: Hiking Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain
    • Tip: This excursion overall was about 10 hours long, with 3.5-4 hours one way by car. If it’s raining, the colors may not be as vibrant. On the city outskirts as you leave Cusco you will pass an area with a lot of local bakeries. Be on the lookout and ask your guide to stop and grab some fresh bread if you’d like.
  • Day 8: Tourist Bus from Cusco to Puno
    • Tip: Hopefully as tourism increases, the train will begin running again from Cusco to Puno. You also have the option of flying.
  • Day 9: Tour of Lake Titicaca
  • Day 10: Flight back to Lima, overnight in Lima
    • You would probably have enough time to tour Lake Titicaca and still take an evening flight back to Lima on the same day. I would check that out if I was looking to save a day. The airport is located in Juliaca (about an hour outside of Puno).
  • Day 11: Morning flight back home from Lima to Kentucky via Atlanta

Hotels

I typically prefer booking hotels on our own. This way we can get the location and amenities that are important to us. We stayed at one hotel booked through the tour company and while it was totally adequate, it didn’t compare to the hotels we picked ourselves. If you use a service to book your trip, like we did, they will provide you with hotels they use and pricing. We preferred to pay a little bit more for nicer hotels because this was a couples trip. Being able to come back to beautiful accommodations after long days of site seeing and hiking were worth a little bit extra money to us. Below are our favorite hotels from the trip:

  • Cusco Hotel Antigua Casona San Blas: This hotel was the perfect location right in the older part of Cusco. Rooms were very clean, the courtyard beautiful and the service was top notch. The hotel supplied filtered water in jugs in the bathrooms to brush teeth with and drink as well as filtered water in the lobby to fill up water bottles. They also held our luggage for us when we hiked on the Inca Trail. Breakfast was delicious (more on the hotel restaurant below), and we reserved the spa one night for a massage, which was incredible.
  • Ollantaytambo: Las Qolqas Eco Resort: Another absolutely amazing hotel, nestled right into the Andes Mountains. Located about 10 minutes outside of Ollantaytambo, this resort is picture perfect and has incredible gardens. The service was once again amazing and the location could not be beat. We enjoyed meals made from their gardens, beautiful views, a wood burning stove to keep us warm at night as well as a beautiful spa. I highly, highly recommend this little piece of paradise! Note: Wifi was only available in the lobby of this hotel.
  • Lima: Wyndham Costa Del Sol Lima Airport: This airport hotel was nice, but the real reason it is listed here is the location. It is literally steps away from the airport, which makes it very easy if you have an early morning flight or if you get in late. We went when it was not crowded, but I’ve read to book this early during busy seasons because it fills up quickly.
The hotel is literally across the street from the airport.

Note: The hotel we stayed at in Puno was not our favorite. We stayed outside of the city a bit and would have preferred staying in the city.

Favorite Eats

All the food we ate in Peru was delicious. We love trying local food and though we never ate “cuy” or guinea pig, a specialty in Peru, we still ate a lot of local food. Our favorites were lomo saltado, chicken in a yellow sauce and stuffed peppers. Our absolute favorite restaurant we ate at was in Cusco. Piedra & Sal was the in-house restaurant at our hotel, and we highly recommend eating there, even if you don’t stay at the hotel. Everything we ate was incredible. We are still dreaming about the lomo saltado and their amazing house-made pasta. We also enjoyed a few delicious meals in Ollantayambo at our hotel there. All of the food was made fresh using produce from their gardens and it was delicious.

One word of caution: Be careful eating anything that has been washed in tap water (potentially lettuce/other fruits and vegetables). Most of our hotels had water filtration systems but some did not. I found out the hard way about this at the end of our trip when I thought the lettuce in my sandwich would be okay to eat. It was not and I ended up with food poisoning the night before we were leaving.

Elevation

This is the most common question we got asked, “How was the elevation?” The elevation is manageable. Cusco is actually higher than the Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu, so it is recommended to arrive 2-3 days before going to Machu Picchu so you can acclimate to the elevation. I had a dull headache for the first two days that went away with some ibuprofen/tylenol but after that was fine. My husband drank the coca tea that they offer everywhere and said that he thought it helped him. All in all, I would recommend spending a couple days in Cusco and the Sacred Valley to help acclimate yourself before hiking on the Inca Trail. The highest point we reached on our trip was 16,000 feet at Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain. We planned this toward the end of our trip so the elevation change wasn’t as difficult, but we took the hike nice and slow.

Don’t Miss This On Your Trip to Peru

We booked all of these “excursions” with Sun Gate Tours. They took us on a private tour; just us, our guide and a driver to all of these sites. Sun Gate Tours will plan exactly what you want your vacation to be and give a reasonable price.

  • Cusco City Tour: This was a great introduction to Peru, the Incas and the Andes mountain region. We visited Qorikancha, a local market (my favorite) and the Sacsayhuaman ruins. Our driver would drop us off, we would walk for a bit with our guide and then get picked up and taken to the next location of the tour.
  • Sacred Valley Tour: We drove from Cusco about an hour down into the Sacred Valley (about 1,000 feet lower than Cusco in elevation) heading toward Ollantaytambo. On our way we stopped for a breathtaking small hike in Pisaq. You can just walk around the site or you can do a small hike from here. We thought the hike was definitely worth it with beautiful views and it helped prepare us a bit for the Inca Trail we would be hiking a few days later. After Pisaq we had a delicious lunch (included in our tour) and then drove the rest of the way to the ruins at Ollantaytambo. The driving time from Cusco to Ollantaytambo was about 2 hours. The Incan ruins and terraces were worth the climb, and we ended our tour in Ollantaytambo.
  • ATV Tour to Moray/Maras Salt Mines: We took this excursion, also booked through Sun Gate Tours. We were picked up from our hotel and drove about 45 minutes away to get on the ATVs. We rode through beautiful fields to the ruins at Moray. Make sure to use sunscreen especially on sunny days, even on your hands (or wear gloves). After the ATV ride, we were driven to the local salt mines and enjoyed learning all about the history of these unique mines. We had such a fun day and would highly recommend adding this to your trip if you have an extra day on your itinerary.
  • Inca Trail One-Day Hike: We woke up early, met a car (all arranged by Sun Gate Tours) who took us to the train station in Ollantaytambo and transferred our luggage back to Cusco. We carried with us all of our things for the 12 kilometer hike and an overnight in Aguas Calientes. After about a 1.5 hour train ride we got off at Kilometer 104 and met our guide (tell the conductor you are getting off at KM 104 and they will help you to not miss it). We spent the whole day hiking up stone paths built by the Incas into the mountain. We hiked through waterfalls and the incredible ruins of Winay Wayna until we reached the Sun Gate, from which we could see beautiful views of Machu Picchu. The hike ended by walking down into Machu Picchu shortly before it closed and taking a bus down to the city of Aguas Calientes, the city closest to Machu Picchu. One of the benefits of this hike is we had the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu twice–when we arrived directly from the trail (close to the site closing time), and then our ticket was valid for the next day to tour the whole archeological site. The short Inca trail was a difficult but very rewarding hike, especially with the higher elevation. We were glad we did not bring kids (teenagers could probably do it) but we were so grateful we did it!
    • Tips: I highly recommend wearing hiking boots (these were wonderful for sensitive feet). They saved my ankles multiple times on this hike! A hiking stick was also invaluable (our guide brought them for us, check with your guide or bring your own). We also liked these ponchos as we experienced a little rain on the trail.
  • Machu Picchu: Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world for a reason! It was absolutely breathtaking. We took a bus from Aguas Calientes back up the mountain to the entry point. You are required to have a guide take you through Machu Picchu. You can find a guide in the city, but we had our awesome guide Richard from Sun Gate Tours. When you arrive you can only enter once (and bathrooms are OUTSIDE the entrance, so be sure to go to the bathroom before entering). It used to be that you could walk wherever you wanted around Machu Picchu. Due to COVID, different paths have been organized to reduce crowding. You now choose a path you’d like to follow (the guides know) and take time walking around on your path. You are not supposed to backtrack on your path. We enjoyed gorgeous views and learning more about the history of such an amazing place. You can also choose to hike up Wayna Picchu directly from Machu Picchu, if tickets are available. We skipped this and just enjoyed a leisurely visit. After our tour, we took the bus back down the mountain, ate lunch and then took the train to Ollantaytambo and a bus back to Cusco. It took us at least 4 hours to get from Machu Picchu back to Cusco. During the dry season the train usually runs from Machu Picchu all the way to Cusco. During the wet season the train only runs to Ollantaytambo and a bus shuttles you the rest of the way.
  • Tip: We rode on the Peru Rail expedition train and on the Vistadome train. The Vistadome train had a “show” specifically for tourists and souvenirs for tourists to buy. In non-Covid times I think they have food too. The windows are a little bigger on the Vistadome train but overall we preferred the expedition train and wouldn’t choose to pay extra for Vistadome.
  • Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain: Talk about a highlight! This is an all-day excursion from Cusco. We left early in the morning, were provided a box lunch and drove about 4 hours to Palcoyo. The last hour of the drive was beautiful going through the Andes Mountains and seeing hundreds of alpaca and local farming communities built into terraces on the mountainsides. Once we arrived, we had a gentle hike (much easier than the Inca Trail hike, though the elevation was much higher about 16,000 feet) to see a beautiful range of colorful mountains. We hiked on an overcast day, but the colors were still stunning. This area is not yet very built up with tourists, but we expect it will become very popular with its sheer beauty and relative ease of the hike. It was cold at this high elevation, so it is helpful to bring gloves and layers as well as water for this hike. In total we spent about 2 hours at Palcoyo before returning back to Cusco. On our drive home, our guide had us stop and check out the local baking area of Cusco. It was fun to see how much of the bread in the region is made.
  • Tourist Bus to Lake Titicaca: I don’t think this is a necessity, but it was a convenient and interesting way to get from Cusco to Puno. We did not have the option of taking a train, and we preferred seeing more of the country instead of flying, so we choose to take the tourist bus. The sites were interesting, but nothing i would go out of my way to see. It included lunch and it was a comfortable ride. The bus goes both directions: Cusco to Puno and back. We only used it one way and would recommend it as a good option instead of flying. However if we had the option to take the train, we probably would have.
  • Lake Titicaca: Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake (elevation of 12,500 feet) and is shared by Peru and Bolivia. It is right near the city, Puno with Juliaca being the closest airport in Peru. Lake Titicaca is home to the Uru who live on floating islands. You can choose to stay on the floating islands or just visit them. We enjoyed a day trip boat tour where we learned about their way of life and how they build and maintain the floating islands. We then took a boat ride to Taquile island where we learned about a whole different group of people, walked along the beautiful island streets and watched people celebrating Carnaval. We also enjoyed a traditional lunch with beautiful views of the lake. Because we happened to be visiting over the Carnaval holiday we got to witness the local festivities including parades throughout the town. This tour was unique and a must-do when visiting Puno. Once again, we booked with Sun Gate Tours. If you’ve learned anything from this post, it’s that we were blown away with our tour company: Sun Gate Tours! One of the best tour companies we’ve ever worked with.

What should I pack for a trip to Peru?

We travelled to Peru at the end of February/March during their “wet season.” This also happens to be summer season, so we had temperatures varying between 50-70 degrees. Pack layers! I packed a few pairs of hiking pants, a few t-shirts, some long-sleeves, a sweatshirt and a rain jacket/shell. I also packed:

  • good walking shoes
  • hiking boots that saved my feet,
  • amazing hiking socks (they were so comfortable and not too hot in any weather),
  • rain ponchos (these were awesome)
  • a hat
  • sunscreen (that sun is STRONG)
  • headache medication to help the first few days with elevation
  • toilet paper/hand sanitizer: carry some toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you–not all the restrooms always had toilet paper/soap

COVID Pre-cautions

This seems to change from day to day. What I will say: If you are fine masking, you will be fine traveling in Peru! Sometimes you are asked to double mask, wear N95 masks or even use a face shield (differs depending on the mode of transportation). It was not difficult for us to mask on our trip. COVID has really decimated the tourist industry in Peru and we felt very fortunate to be able to visit and hopefully help encourage tourism to come back. Currently many places have reduced numbers (Machu Picchu at the time we went had decreased their visitor limit from 5000 people a day to 2500–and still only around 1000 a day were coming…if that). If you are vaccinated and willing to mask throughout your trip at times, you will be rewarded with very few crowds on your trip. Be sure to bring your vaccination card as you will need it throughout your trip (you must also have your booster to be considered fully vaccinated). Check out this website for more information about COVID-19 in Peru. To get back into the U.S. we needed to have a negative COVID test. Many hotels in Cusco can book you an appointment for a COVID test and send someone to your hotel to test you. We ended our trip in Puno, though and our hotel did not offer that service. Instead, we bought the BinaxNow COVID tests and brought them with us on our trip. One day before our flight left Peru, we took the tests with a virtual person watching us. The tests gave us a quick result that we could send to the airline (we flew with Delta) to get back into the U.S. If you do this, make sure to register using your full name on your passport (we had to enter first and middle name in the first name box because there was no box for middle names, but it gives you the best chance of success when submitting the info to the airlines). Overall, it was a very easy process and we would use those tests again. Bring 1 or 2 extra just in case though!

We had an absolutely amazing trip to Peru! I know we only scratched the surface, but Peru blew us away with its beauty, kind people and amazing food. If you have the opportunity to go to Peru, take it! It was a bucket list adventure that we will never forget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drink the water in Peru?

Most likely no. Some of our hotels provided filtered drinking water but it was always labeled as such. We avoided foods that may have been washed in tap water (think lettuce) and we used bottled water to drink and brush our teeth. The locals are just more used to the water and their immune systems tolerate it better, but as a tourist you should avoid it.

How hard is hiking the Inca Trail?

We hiked the “short” Inca trail which takes 5-6 hours and is 12 kilometers long. The path is carved into the mountain with the first 2-3+ hours being a hike up the mountain side (somewhat gradual but lots of rocky stairs as well). Once you reach the beautiful ruins of Winay Wayna, the trail is fairly flat with a few up and downs until you have to climb up the stairs to the Sun Gate. After the Sun Gate it is all downhill to reach Machu Picchu. This was a difficult hike and we were exhausted by the end of it. All that to say it is worth preparing for and doing if you can. It was the highlight of our trip, despite the difficulty.

Will I get altitude sickness in Peru?

If you live at sea level or close to it, expect to feel some effects from the altitude, but it affects some more than others. Drink the coca tea you are offered and bring some good headache medication with you. I needed it for about 2 days before I acclimated to the elevation. My husband drank the coca tea daily.

If I only have 5 days is it enough for Peru?

If you are coming solely for Machu Picchu, I think it’s worth it. Take a red eye to Lima, spend day 1 in Cusco. Day 2 Sacred Valley. Day 3 Hike the Short Inca Trail. Day 4 Machu Picchu and back to Cusco. Day 5 Head Home. If you’re coming from the U.S. you will likely have little to no jet lag to get over (Cusco was in the same time zone as the Eastern US, but I don’t know if that will always be the case with the US switching to permanent DST). This makes it a lot more do-able for a quick trip than some destinations.

Which Rainbow Mountain Should I Visit?

Most tourists heading to Peru and the Andes have heard of Rainbow Mountain. We did not go to the traditional “Rainbow Mountain” known as Vinicunca. This hike we’ve heard is very difficult where you hike for a couple of hours to get to it and you get one iconic view of a “Rainbow Mountain.” Instead we went to the lesser known Palcoyo Mountain, which was incredible. The hike was considerably easier and although for a lot of the hike you get teased with just seeing one Rainbow Mountain, when you get to the top of that mountain you will suddenly see a whole range of them instead of just one. Ask your tour guide about Palcoyo, lesser known but an incredible experience!

Did you feel safe in Peru?

We felt completely safe everywhere we travelled. People were very kind and helpful, even when we didn’t speak any Spanish.

What is the best time of year to travel to Peru?

We loved traveling during the rainy season. We experienced very little rain, mostly warm weather and low crowds. However, the dry season tends to be more popular with a better chance at dry weather and cooler temperatures.

Should I tip in Peru?

From everything we read and saw, locals don’t tip much if at all. However, tips are somewhat expected from foreigners. We felt it appropriate to tip our guides, drivers and leave a small tip at restaurants.

Did you have cell service in Peru?

You will have to have a plan that allows international roaming, usually this costs a daily fee if you use it. One possibility for a couple is for one person to use it and then turn on a hot spot for the other person when needed. All of our hotels had wifi which we used in the evenings to connect with our kids.


I love writing about our travel destinations and hope that it can help some of you who are planning your own trips. You can read about another of our couple trips here and some of our family vacations here and here.

Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a very small amount from qualifying purchases.

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread, like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest for my baking ideas with a few travel adventures too.

Sourdough “Pizza Oven” Pizza

I am a big-time pizza lover. My whole family loves pizza and Friday night pizza has been on the rotation for many years. We love this recipe that we’ve been using in our regular oven, but recently we added an Ooni Koda pizza oven to our appliances. Even though it was quite the long wait (supply chain issues), we love the way this pizza oven cooks and everything that we pull out of it is top notch! Check out this naan bread I made that is one of our favorites. I decided to combine my love for sourdough everything with my love for pizza and have found the perfect sourdough pizza recipe for our family. I’ve made it a number of times and will continue using this recipe for years to come. It is delicious, the perfect chewy crust and makes the most delicious pizza. We are obsessed and it has revitalized our family pizza nights.

Type 00 Flour or Bread Flour?

Ooni gives instructions with their pizza oven to use a special Italian flour, “type 00.” Type 00 flour is known for making traditional Neapolitan-style pizza (the type of pizza this recipe is trying its best to mimic) and it historically gives a crispy, thin crust while being chewy at the same time. In Europe, flour is categorized by how finely ground it is, not by protein content (which is what we use in America to categorize our flour). You can buy type 00 flour used in Italian pizza crust in some stores (our local Kroger carries it now!) or on Amazon, but with a big family that gets a little expensive if you want to make pizza often. An option that I prefer is to use American bread flour with about 11-12% protein content. I use unbleached bread flour from my local mill that is finely ground. The combination of bread flour, a long rise, high hydration content and sourdough helps to soften the gluten and to produce a light and airy crust that mimics the type 00 flour.

Side by Side Comparison of Sourdough Pizza

I actually did a side-by-side comparison of this recipe using both bread flour and type 00 flour and guess what?! My family preferred the pizza made with the bread flour. I thought the difference was negligible between the two and both are good options for the pizza. They both had a light, airy crust thanks to the high hydration, which produced lots of air pockets and a beautiful rise. Both had good flavor from being refrigerated overnight and baked up the next day. If you’d like to save a little money, look for a bread flour with 11-12% protein content that is finely ground, and you will have a much more affordable way to make pizza night happen weekly in your pizza oven.

Sourdough Starter

I feed my sourdough starter usually once a day, sometimes twice depending on how often I’m baking. This recipe uses 100 grams of ripe sourdough starter. This can be discard from the last few days or starter that is at its peak point. If you want to make starter specifically for this recipe, take a teaspoon of starter and feed it 75 grams of flour, 75 grams of water. Stir it, cover it and wait for 6-8 hours for the starter to double in size. Then use it in this recipe for sourdough pizza.

Sample Schedule for Sourdough Pizza

Day 1

  • 8 AM Mix together the dough ingredients with a stand mixer/dough hook
  • 8:30 AM Bulk Rest – perform 1st fold
  • 9:00 AM Bulk Rest – perform 2nd fold
  • 9:30 AM Bulk Rest – perform 3rd fold
  • 10:00 AM Bulk Rest – perform 4th fold (at this point the dough should be strong and smooth)
  • 11:00 AM Cover the dough and place in the refrigerator overnight
Dough risen and ready to be separated and shaped into balls on day 2

Day 2

  • 8 AM Shape dough into balls, cover and rest at room temperature
  • 1 PM Check on dough, place in refrigerator until ready to bake 
  • 5 PM Preheat pizza oven
  • 5:30 PM Take dough out of refrigerator, shape into pizzas, top and bake

Shaping the Balls of Sourdough Pizza Dough

The more you work with dough, the easier this will become. Don’t worry if it seems hard at first. It will turn out okay! To shape a ball of dough, pick it up in your hand and gently pull the dough together as you turn it in your hand, forming a ball. Then take the ball and tightly move it in a circular motion on the countertop to seal the ball. You should be left with a taught, round ball of dough. It will flatten as it rises, but this shaping process sets your pizza crust up for a successful rise in the oven.

How I pre-shape pizza dough

Working with Cold Dough

The process for making this pizza dough is two days but it is not a lot of hands-on time. Most of the work is done while the dough is resting. I don’t like to add extra flour to the dough while I’m working with it on the counter. Cold dough is easier to shape without extra flour. Once your dough has been shaped into balls, let it rise at room temperature for 5-6 hours. You will notice it expand and puff up. Once the dough has risen, stick it back in the refrigerator until ready to make the pizzas. Cold dough doesn’t stick as much to the pizza peel, especially with a sprinkle of cornmeal underneath it. Work quickly so it doesn’t warm up too much and your dough should slide right off the pizza peel or wooden cutting board.

Cornmeal and an Ooni Pizza Oven

I like to use cornmeal on the bottom of my pizzas. This is not necessarily traditional, but I have found cornmeal is the best way to provide a little friction between the wet dough and the pizza peel or cutting board. The friction makes it much easier to launch into the pizza oven. Be careful that you don’t use too much cornmeal because it can burn up in the pizza oven; you really just want a light dusting of cornmeal.

Too Many Toppings?

With this pizza recipe, it is possible to have too many toppings. Part of the beauty of this style of pizza is in the simplicity of the ingredients. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment. You should! Just be careful to not load your pizza up with too many toppings. It will make it difficult to get your pizza into the pizza oven without half of your pizza collapsing, giving you a melty/cheesy mess that will need to burn up before baking your next pizza—not that I have experienced this or anything 🙂

Launching and Baking Pizza In an Ooni Pizza Oven

The more you make the pizza, the better you will get at this step. I like to use a wooden cutting board to assemble my pizza on. Spread a little cornmeal and place the stretched dough on top of the cornmeal. Press the pizza into a circular shape and top with pizza sauce, chunks of mozzarella and any other toppings you’d like. Check that your pizza is not sticking to the board (if it is, lightly lift it off), and scoot the pizza toward the end of the board. Launch the pizza with a quick thrust of the board into the pizza oven. Do not stick your fingers into the oven! Have a pizza peel and a fork nearby. Once the pizza has cooked about 45 seconds and starts to look crispy, pull it out with the pizza peel, rotate it 180 degrees (one half turn) with the fork and bake for another 30-45 seconds until the crust is perfect.

Pizza Oven vs. Conventional Oven

This pizza recipe works best in a pizza oven. I’ve made it many times in an Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven. You will get the best texture, taste and crispness using the high heat and baking stone of a pizza oven. If you don’t have a pizza oven, you can still make good pizza from this recipe, though you may want to check out this one instead. Crank your home oven up to the highest temperature it will go (550 is the temperature I tested it at). Place a pizza stone in the oven and let it pre-heat for at least 30-40 minutes. This long pre-heat is crucial to the texture of the pizza dough. Proceed with the recipe as written and bake the pizza in the regular oven for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is puffed up and baked through.

The top pizza was baked in an Ooni Pizza Oven. The bottom pizza was baked on a pizza stone in a conventional oven at 550 degrees.

Pizza Sauce for Sourdough Pizza

Neapolitan style pizza traditionally uses a fresh, non-cooked sauce. We prefer our pizza with a cooked sauce and the recipe I have listed is one of our favorites. It doesn’t take too long to make and can keep fresh in the fridge for a week or two. I like to make this sauce, cool it down and use it on our homemade pizza nights. A jarred sauce will work too, just find one that you love.

Why do I need to refrigerate the dough in this sourdough pizza? Can I skip this step and make it in one day?

The long fermentation time in the refrigerator helps the dough build flavor and softens the gluten in the dough which allows for lots of air pockets which means a light, airy and open pizza crust. Don’t skip this step!

What are the Best Pizza Topping Combinations in Sourdough Pizza?

Traditionally this Neapolitan-style pizza is made with a simple tomato sauce, chunks of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. We love making a “white” pizza with a bit of olive oil, goat cheese, mozzarella, roasted garlic and adding a bit of arugula and balsamic vinegar on top after it bakes. Our kids love traditional pepperoni on this pizza dough too.

Can I use Sourdough Discard that is a few days old in this sourdough pizza?

Yes! Due to the long, slow rise, sourdough discard works great in this recipe. The older the discard, the more soudough flavor the crust will have.

Where Can I buy “type 00” flour?

I buy it online on Amazon and most recently I’ve found some at our local Kroger.

Can this Sourdough Pizza Recipe be made in one day?

It can, but it really tastes much better when it’s had time to ferment overnight in the refrigerator. The long rise breaks down the gluten making an amazing, tender, chewy & light pizza crust.

Pizza night has never been better with this sourdough pizza in an Ooni Pizza oven. Give it a try! I hope you’ll love it as much as we do.

Sourdough Pizza for a Pizza Oven

Chewy, tender and perfect Neapolitan-style sourdough pizza made for a pizza oven. This is the perfect pizza crust for family pizza night or to make when you are craving delicious pizza.
Prep Time 1 d
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 d 17 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8 6-8 inch pizzas

Ingredients
  

Sourdough Pizza Crust

  • 100 grams ripe sourdough starter 100% hydration see recipe notes
  • 400 grams water room temperature
  • 575 grams bread flour see recipe notes
  • 65 grams whole wheat flour finely ground
  • 4 grams diastatic malt powder see recipe notes
  • 12 grams salt
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal reserved for sprinkling when shaping pizza

Pizza Toppings

  • 16 slices mozzarella cheese good quality
  • fresh basil torn
  • 2 cups pizza sauce recipe below works great
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • other toppings as desired

Pizza Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed/diced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper chili pepper for spicy–up this if you want more spicy
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes nothing else in it but tomato
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-3 springs basil with stems/leaves on

Instructions
 

Sourdough Pizza Dough

    Day 1

    • To a stand mixer, add the ripe sourdough starter and water. Mix with your hands until mostly dissolved. Add the bread flour, whole wheat flour, diastatic malt powder and salt. Mix together with a dough whisk or spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
    • Using the dough hook on your stand mixer, mix the dough for 7-8 minutes until smooth. Alternatively you can knead the dough by hand for 8-10 minutes until smooth. Transfer the dough to a bowl or container.
    • Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for about 2-3 hours on the counter at room temperature (if your kitchen is warmer err on the side of 2 hours; colder err on the side of 3-4 hours).
    • During this bulk rest, perform a series of stretch and folds every half hour to continue developing the dough.
    • After the bulk rise, cover the dough and place in the refrigerator overnight for a long, slow rise.

    Day 2

    • Add a little olive oil to one or two baking dishes or pans with high edges.
    • Pull the dough out of the refrigerator and separate into 8 pieces, about 145-150 grams per piece. This will make about a 6-8 inch pizza. If you'd like to make larger pizzas, divide the dough into 4 balls about 290 grams a piece.
    • Use your fingers to shape the dough into 8 tight balls. Pinch the dough together into a ball shape and drag in a circular motion on your countertop to form a taught, tight ball. Place the dough ball into the prepared, lightly oiled pan. Repeat with the next dough ball, placing it apart from the first ball to allow room for the dough to rise. Continue this process until the dough balls have been shaped.
    • Cover the pans with plastic wrap and leave on the counter to rise for 4-6 hours (depending on the temperature in your kitchen). The dough will puff up a bit and flatten out to a disc-like shape.
    • Check on your dough after about 4 hours. If it has puffed and flattened considerably, move on to the next step. If not, give it a little more time to rise. At this point, the dough balls can be placed in the refrigerator to use later that day or the next day.

    Baking the Pizza

    • Preheat a pizza oven to 700-800 degrees (see recipe note about using a regular oven) and place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes while setting up the pizza toppings. This dough is easiest to work with chilled.
    • On a pizza peel or large wooden cutting board, sprinkle cornmeal to dust the board. The cornmeal provides the friction needed to Take one piece of dough and stretch it with your hands to form a circle. Place it on top of the cornmeal and continue working it around in a circle until you a 6-8 inch pizza shape.
    • Work quickly to top the pizza with about 2-3 Tablespoons pizza sauce. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and place pieces on top of the pizza dough. Tear the fresh basil and sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Check that the dough is not sticking to the board (this can happen if you don't work quickly enough). If it is sticking, unstick it with your fingers, add a bit of cornmeal if needed and try again.
    • Launch your pizza into the pre-heated pizza oven with a quick thrust forward. Let the pizza cook for about 45 seconds, then using the pizza peel pull the pizza out of the oven, turn it with a fork and return it to the pizza oven for another 30-45 seconds. This ensures that the pizza is cooked on both sides. You can watch a video of this process here.
    • Repeat the process with the rest of your pizza dough, adding whatever toppings you desire and enjoy!

    Pizza Sauce

    • To a small saucepan add the butter, olive and garlic over medium heat. Sautee garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the oregano, salt & pepper and sautee 1 more minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir.
    • Slice the onion in half and add to the sauce. Add two sprigs of fresh basil to the sauce. Simmer on low heat for about an hour until the sauce is reduced and concentrated. Remove the basil and onion. Season with a teaspoon of sugar and more salt if desired.
    • Remove to container and let cool before using on pizza dough. Sauce can be refrigerated for a week or two if desired.

    Notes

    Sourdough Starter: This recipe is based on 100% hydration sourdough starter (fed equal parts flour/water). You can use bubbly sourdough starter or sourdough discard for this recipe.
    Flour: Most recipes for Neapolitan-style pizza call for special Italian type 00 flour. Italian type 00 flour is difficult to come by in a typical U.S. grocery store but can be easily found on Amazon. If you are looking for a more cost-effective option, and the one I use most regularly, I’ve had very good results using bread flour with around a 12% protein content.
    Diastatic Malt Powder: This helps the pizza dough in its long rise and gives the dough a strong rise and a caramelized color crust. You can buy it on Amazon or check your local grocery. If you don’t have any on hand, leave it out.
    Oven: This pizza recipe works best for a pizza oven. I’ve made it many times in an Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven. You will get the best texture, taste and crispness using the high heat and baking stone of a pizza oven. If you don’t have a pizza oven, you can still make good pizza from this recipe. Crank your home oven up to the highest temperature it will go (550 is the temperature I tested it at). Place a pizza stone in the oven and let it pre-heat for at least 30-40 minutes. This long pre-heat is crucial to the texture of the pizza dough. Proceed with the recipe as written and bake the pizza in the regular oven for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is puffed up and baked through.
    Keyword beginner sourdough, neapolitan style pizza, ooni koda, ooni pizza oven, sourdough pizza

    Rating: 1 out of 5.

    Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a very small amount from qualifying purchases.

    Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread, like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest for more baking ideas. Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake.

    Soft French Bread

    As a child, my family lived as expats in Europe. A favorite memory of mine is visiting the local bakeries, where I saw loaves of baguette bread dotting the shelves. Most of the loaves were narrow and crispy on the outside with a soft, pillowy middle. When we moved back to the United States, I found a different type of the bread that we call “French” bread. This American version was larger, not as crispy and had a super soft middle. American-style French bread can be found in many grocery store bakeries and is not typically hard or crispy like a baguette. This soft French bread is light, airy, soft and downright delicious. We love it for a weeknight dinner and use leftovers for French toast in the morning. It’s also perfect to dip into fondue or to slice for the toaster.

    Use Bread Flour for Soft French Bread

    I never used to keep bread flour on hand, thinking that I could make all my baked goods from the cheaper all-purpose flour available on every grocery store shelf. This worked for a time, but as soon as I started using bread flour in bread, surprise, surprise…my bread turned out a whole lot better. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. The protein content in flour affects the development of gluten strands. When making scones or waffles, you don’t want to develop gluten strands, so a low-protein flour (soft wheat) will produce the best baked good. When baking bread on the other hand, you want to develop gluten strands. These strands trap the air as the dough rises and gives the baked bread a light, fluffy, chewy texture. Can you use all-purpose flour in this recipe? You can. But starting with a good bread flour is setting you up for the best loaf of bread you can produce.

    Coconut Oil: A Secret Ingredient

    The key to a super soft, tender French bread that has a longer shelf-life? Coconut oil. I love using coconut oil in place of the neutral-flavored oil in this bread. It gives the softest interior texture, and we can’t taste any coconut flavor. If you are highly sensitive to coconut flavor, use 2 Tablespoons neutral-flavored oil and 2 Tablespoons coconut oil to get the closest result. Coconut oil should be melted and at room temperature before adding it to the bread. Make sure it is not too hot (you may have to heat the coconut oil to melt it a bit) so it doesn’t kill the yeast.

    Kneading Soft French Bread

    Soft French bread dough can be kneaded by hand, but I love making this bread in a Bosch Mixer. The Bosch has a very powerful motor, which means it can knead bread for a long, long time. Check out this NutriMill Artiste for a more affordable version of a Bosch. You can also use a KitchenAid, though it is not my go-to for dough kneading. If you use a KitchenAid be careful that you don’t burn out the motor while kneading (check that it’s not overheating). Once all the ingredients are mixed together, I like to set a timer and let this dough knead for about 8 minutes. Then let the dough rest for 15 minutes until it is slightly puffy and knead it back down for about 20 seconds. Do you have to add in this step? No, but I have made it both ways and this additional knead down/gluten-strengthening makes for an extra-chewy, light and springy crumb. At that point, cover the dough and let rise until doubled or even tripled in size.

    Shaping Loaves

    Once the French bread dough has risen, turn it out onto a countertop. I like using one of these pastry mats on top of my kitchen counter. The measurements are so helpful. Divide the dough into two large portions. To make the loaves even, you can weigh them to help make them exactly the same size. Starting with one piece of dough, spread it out into a rectangle shape using your fingers. The shape should be a little smaller than the size of the baking sheet. Roll up the dough, pinching in the seams as you go. Pinch the dough closed and flip it over, seam-side down. Lightly push the ends under the dough if needed to give it a uniform shape. Place the shaped loaf on one side of the baking sheet. Repeat the shaping process with the other piece of dough and place on the other side of the baking sheet. Cover and let rise again until puffed up and just about doubled in size.

    Press your finger lightly into the dough after its second rise. If it springs back, it needs more time to rise. If it springs back just a bit but leaves a small indentation, it is ready to bake!

    Score French Bread with a Bread Lame

    I used to think bread lames were only for sourdough bread. Not true! A bread lame is a great tool to have in your kitchen to score the top of bread bowls, French bread and of course sourdough too. I love the UFO bread lame for scoring bread but this one from Amazon gets a lot of use too. My best tip for scoring bread: be quick, concise and have confidence!

    So You Want a Crispy Crust?

    Sometimes you want that crispy crust that you find in European bakeries. The best way to mimic that with this recipe is to throw a couple ice cubes into the pre-heated oven right before baking this bread. The ice cubes will melt, produce steam and give a nice crispy crust to your soft French bread. The crust will soften over time a bit but it’s a great way to get that crisp crust if you want it.

    So what are you waiting for? This super soft French bread can be made start to finish in about 2.5 hours. My whole family loves it, especially right out of the oven when I top it with melted butter. Enjoy!

    Looking for a sourdough version of Soft French Bread? You can find that here.

    Can I substitute All Purpose Flour for the bread flour?

    This bread is best with bread flour. You can substitute all purpose flour but won’t have quite the same spring and chew as you do with bread flour. Add a Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to your all purpose flour to help mimic bread flour if you have it on hand.

    I don’t have Coconut Oil. Can I use Olive Oil?

    You can use any neutral-flavored oil in this soft french bread. My personal preference is coconut oil followed by vegetable or canola oil.

    How do you store extra bread?

    Extra bread?! Ha! We do usually have some extra. I slice and freeze any extra bread we have. I’ll pull out the frozen bread, thaw it and use it for french toast, garlic bread or we make sandwiches from it too.

    Does this recipe double well?

    This recipe does double well to make 4 loaves of soft french bread. Give one to a friend. Freeze a couple for dinner or enjoy over a couple days. A double recipe works well in a Bosch Mixer. Doubling it may be a little too much for a KitchenAid.

    Soft French Bread

    Light, airy, soft and delicious french bread. This bread is the perfect side to a weeknight dinner or makes great french toast. We love dipping it in fondue or slicing for toast.
    Prep Time 20 mins
    Cook Time 30 mins
    Rise Time 2 hrs 30 mins
    Course Bread
    Cuisine American
    Servings 2 loaves

    Ingredients
      

    • 2.5 cups warm water temperature of baby's bathwater
    • 1 Tablespoons instant yeast
    • 2 Tablespoons honey
    • 1/4 cup neutral flavored oil or coconut oil (see recipe notes)
    • 1 Tablespoon salt
    • 5 1/2-6 cups bread flour see note

    Instructions
     

    • To the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water, instant yeast and honey. Let sit until it smells yeasty and is a little foamy (this shows you that your yeast is active).
    • Add the oil, salt and 5 cups of bread flour. Knead together and a little bit more flour as needed until you can pinch off a piece of dough and roll it up into a ball with only a little bit of sticky residue left on your fingers. The dough will probably need 5 1/2 to 6 cups of flour. Start on the lower end and work your way up so as not to over-flour the dough Knead in between additions of flour. If the dough needs more flour, add flour 1/4 cup at a time until slightly tacky. More tips for how to tell when dough is ready here.
    • Once the flour has all been added and the dough is at the right consistency, knead with a dough hook for about 8 minutes. Set a timer and let the dough knead for the full eight minutes to achieve perfect elasticity and gluten development.
    • After eight minutes of kneading, let the dough sit for 15 minutes in the mixer. It will expand and rise a bit. Stir down the dough after 15 minutes by kneading for 20 seconds.
    • Transfer the dough to a dough container (affiliate link) and let the dough rise again for about an hour until doubled or tripled in size.
    • Turn dough out onto the counter and cut into two pieces. With your fingers, press each piece into a rectangle shape (not quite as long as your baking sheet). Roll up, pinching in the seams as you go. Pinch the dough closed and place on one half of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other portion of dough.
    • Cover the shaped dough with a kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour until puffy and doubled in size.
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Using a bread lame or sharp knife, score the loaves.
    • For a crispier crust: Throw a handful of ice cubes into the oven loaves putting the bread into the oven to bake. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
    • Brush with melted butter and let cool before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Bread Flour: If you don’t have bread flour on hand, you can substitute 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus 2 Tablespoons of vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten will increase the protein content and improve the elasticity, crust and crumb of the dough making it similar to bread flour.
    Crispier Crust: For a crispier crust, throw a handful of ice cubes into the oven after it pre-heats and right before placing the loaves in the oven to bake. The steam will help create a crisp crust if you eat it immediately. The crust will soften over time. 
    Coconut Oil: For a super tender loaf, use coconut oil in place of a neutral-flavored oil. It won’t change the taste of the bread, just makes for a rich and fluffy texture.
    Keyword bread,, soft french bread

    Rating: 1 out of 5.

    Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a very small amount from qualifying purchases.

    Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread, like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest for more baking ideas. Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake.

    Chocolate Raspberry Brioche Buns

    Sometimes we just want to make something special. Something fruity, something chocolatey, something enriched with a whole cup of butter. These brioche buns stuffed with chocolate and raspberry puree are special. They taste of sweet raspberries dotted with chocolate and all wrapped up in a decadent brioche bun. Chocolate raspberry brioche buns are the Valentine treat you didn’t know you wanted to make. I baked up a bunch of them before Valentine’s Day, froze them and will re-heat a couple for our Valentine breakfast…along with this favorite chocolate puff oven pancake and of course a sugar cookie or two.

    Enriched Dough

    Brioche is an enriched dough, meaning it is made with a lot of eggs, butter and milk. The majority of the liquid in this dough comes from eggs (and milk). Do you remember hearing the quote attributed to Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake!”? Translated properly, the phrase would read, “Let them eat brioche!” At the time of Marie Antoinette, only the very rich could afford brioche, which was highly enriched with expensive butter. Brioche can be made with 100% butter (this is super rich and the dough becomes very difficult to handle), 50% butter (which is what I use for this recipe), or even 20% butter is still considered brioche. Each of these doughs are delicious in their own right, but I have found this recipe to be the perfect amount of butter/flour ratio for these buns.

    Use a Stand Mixer for Brioche

    Brioche often needs the use of a stand mixer. It is a very, very soft dough and difficult to knead by hand as you incorporate the butter. One of the goals when mixing brioche is to keep the dough at room temperature while the butter incorporates. If your hands are warm, they are going to melt the dough as you knead. I prefer using my Bosch mixer to make brioche dough, because this dough needs a long mix to incorporate all the butter and to develop the gluten.

    Evolution of Brioche: From Crumbly to Soft Dough

    To begin making this dough, mix together the warm milk, bread flour and instant yeast. Let this mixture sit for 10-20 minutes until it gets nice and yeasty and starts to expand a bit. The sugars in the milk help activate the yeast. Continue adding in the eggs, flour, sugar and salt and mix until you get a crumbly and fairly stiff dough. Mix with your stand mixer for a few minutes before adding the butter. Cut the butter into Tablespoons and add a Tablespoon at a time until the dough becomes very shiny and all the butter is incorporated. You will notice the texture of the dough begin to change as you continue mixing. I like to set a timer and just let my mixer mix for about 8-10 minutes until the dough is very shiny, silky and smooth. It may also be a little sticky to the touch.

    Refrigerating Brioche (4 hours or longer)

    Once the brioche has been thoroughly mixed, transfer the dough to a large bowl. It will feel different (more wet/sticky) than most doughs. That is okay! Cover the dough with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge until chilled all the way through, at least four hours or up to overnight. While in the fridge the cold air helps solidify the butter and makes the dough more workable and easier to shape. I like to mix my dough the night before for a morning bake or I mix in the morning and then bake for an after school snack, because who doesn’t love fresh brioche when they get off the school bus?

    Make the Raspberry Puree

    If you have a favorite raspberry jam (seedless is my preference), you can use that in place of making the raspberry puree. The puree itself is fairly simple to whisk up and tastes delicious. Place 6 oz raspberries into a saucepan with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tablespoons water. If you use frozen raspberries, use 1 Tablespoon water instead of 2. Mash up the raspberries and let the mixture come to a boil at medium heat. Boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the raspberry puree through a fine-mesh strainer into a container. Use a spatula or stir the raspberry mixture as it strains through. Mix around until all you have left in the strainer is seeds. Make sure you check the underside of the strainer to get any extra puree that might be there before discarding the seeds. You will end up with about 1/4 -1/3 cup raspberry puree. Let the puree cool before using in these chocolate raspberry brioche buns.