Best Basic Banana Bread

You know how some recipes just seem elusive? I felt that way for a long time about cookies. I could make a good cookie, but the best? That was hard to find. Now I help my kids run a cookie business and after much trial and error we’ve baked our way into some pretty amazing cookies. I feel the same way about banana bread. I’ve always had good banana bread. Even very good banana bread, but I just keep trying recipes because I couldn’t find a recipe that I really loved. After tinkering around for years, I’ve finally come up with a recipe that I will be making again and again.

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My Perfect Banana Bread

My perfect recipe makes a great loaf but could also be used for 24 muffins. It tastes of banana but not overpowering. It is light, tender and can hold up to some mini chocolate chips thrown in. I like a banana bread recipe best if I can use one bowl for easier cleanup and I especially love a recipe that all of my kids like. This banana bread hits all of those notes. Even my daughter who is not typically a fan has been begging me to make this recipe again…and again! It is delicious 

Combining Butter and Oil for the Perfect Bread

A lot of quick bread recipes call for just butter or just oil. I love using a combination of the two in this recipe. Both oil and butter bring different properties to banana bread. Butter brings a rich flavor and oil helps with a tender, moist and delicious crumb. I find a combination of the two results in the best loaf of bread.

Brown, Over-Ripe Bananas for the Best Flavor

Banana bread has the most flavor when the bananas are really brown…disgustingly brown…even black. The “riper” the banana, the more flavor your bread will have. If you want a milder flavor, use a more brown/yellow banana. I often keep bananas on my counter and whenever I have one that has gotten overripe and no one in my family will eat it, I’ll let it sit a little bit longer until the peel is pretty dark. Then I’ll make a batch of banana bread if I have enough of them, or I’ll peel the banana and pop it in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. To use frozen bananas, let the bananas thaw and then drain a little bit of the excess water before using.

Brown Sugar and Yogurt Makes Moist Banana Bread

I used to always use white sugar in my banana bread. Never again! Brown sugar adds the perfect moistness, sweetness and flavor. The yogurt in this recipe also helps increase the moistness in this bread. If you want to substitute Greek yogurt, you can. The batter will be a little bit thicker than a regular plain yogurt.

Banana Bread Mix-Ins

My kids love this recipe plain, but they really love it when I add some mini chocolate chips into the batter. In my younger years I used to put almost as many chocolate chips as cups of flour into the banana bread for a resulting baked good that tasted more like chocolate bread with a bit of banana. Over the years I’ve cut back, and I love the addition of little mini chocolate chips. They give the perfect pop of chocolate with the sweetness and compliment the banana bread flavor instead of trying to hide it. You could also add some chopped nuts instead of mini chips, or leave them out all together.

A Few Tips

This recipe works perfectly in one bowl. You can mix the dry ingredients together first, but more often that not I pour the flour on top of the liquid ingredients and then the salt and baking soda on top of that. Lightly combine the dry ingredients and then mix the whole thing together carefully. This results in fewer dishes for me and seriously yummy banana bread. Another trick to get a nice high domed top is to bake the bread at a high heat for the first few minutes. The high heat reacts with the baking soda in the recipe and give the tall, domed loaf that you would find at a bakery. I’ve used this technique with great results in these amazing chocolate chip muffins, this sourdough zucchini bread and our favorite applesauce bread.

Bread, Muffins and Mini Muffins

I love this recipe so much because it makes one loaf of bread or twenty-four regular-sized muffins. These muffin tins (affiliate link), are my favorite because they don’t need to be greased. If i’m being honest, we make banana bread muffins far more often than actual banana bread because they are so helpful for a quick breakfast or to stick in school lunches. I also love that this recipe makes perfect mini muffins for when you don’t want to eat an entire muffin. It’s just an all around perfect banana bread! If you’re looking for a stellar sourdough discard banana bread, check out my other favorite banana bread recipe that uses sourdough discard. You can’t go wrong with either one of these recipes. Enjoy!

Best Basic Banana Bread

The best basic banana bread recipe. Tender, full of banana flavor and easy to whip up. This recipe makes one loaf of banana bread or two dozen muffins.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Bread, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients
  

  • 3 brown/black bananas mashed, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or other neutral flavored oil
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt see recipe notes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips or other mix-in optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To a liquid measuring cup, mash the brown bananas until you have about 1 1/2 cups of mashed banana. It's okay if you have a few little chunks of banana. Set aside.
  • To a medium-sized bowl, whip the softened butter with a hand mixer until creamy.
  • Add the brown sugar and mix again until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix again until completely incorporated.
  • Drizzle in the vegetable oil while mixing and add the yogurt and vanilla extract. Add the mashed banana and mix together.
  • Put the hand mixer away and pull out a wooden or large spoon. Add the flour to the bowl. Add the salt and baking soda right on top of the flour and carefully mix (not letting any of the baking soda or salt leave the bowl as you mix). Mix just until the flour is just incorporated and only a few dry streaks remain.
  • Add mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts or dried fruit and lightly mix.
  • Lightly grease or line with parchment paper a 9 by 5 pan, affiliate link (see recipe note for muffin instructions). Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. After ten minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 45-55 minutes until baked all the way through. Stick a sharp knife or toothpick into the center of the banana bread. If it comes out clean (with no batter sticking to it), it is ready to pull out of the oven.

Notes

Plain Yogurt: If you don’t have plain yogurt, you can substitute sour cream. Greek yogurt will make the batter a little thicker, but you can also substitute it for the plain yogurt if you don’t have anything else on hand.
Banana Muffins: Recipe makes about 24 muffins. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake muffins for 5 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 15-16 minutes until baked all the way through.
Mini Banana Muffins: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake mini muffins for 4 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 8-10 minutes until baked through.
Keyword banana, banana bread

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Soft Sourdough Pretzels

Is there anything better than a fresh, hot pretzel? The chewy texture, salty exterior and just all around deliciousness! My husband and I both lived in Germany as kids (not at the same time and we didn’t know each other at the time). One of our favorite shared food memories are the “Laugenbrezel” (a traditional German soft pretzel) and the “Laugenbrot” which was basically a roll or bun made from pretzel dough. Top it with some melty cheese or dip the soft pretzel in some mustard and you have yourself the perfect snack or lunch. This recipe for sourdough pretzels brings us back to those childhood days and fills our kitchen with the aroma of a German bakery. Soft sourdough pretzels are being made on repeat right now because we love them so much. This recipe takes almost 24 hours start to finish (with lots of hands-off time). If you are looking for a quick and simple recipe, try these pretzel bites with sourdough discard.

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Sample Soft Sourdough Pretzel Schedule

Working with sourdough takes time. I find it helpful to see a sample schedule so I have a reference point for making the recipe fit in my own life. When I make soft sourdough pretzels, this is often how I do it. You may need more or less time depending on the warmth of your kitchen and how quickly your sourdough rises.

Day 1 (night): 8-10 PM: Mix Leaven the night before baking

Day 2 (morning): 8 AM Mix the dough and give it a long rise with one stretch and fold

12-2 PM: After the dough has risen and is a bit puffy: pre-shape, rest, shape pretzels and refrigerate

2-4 PM: Score and bake

Building the Pretzel Leaven

The night before you want to make the pretzels, build the leaven. Take 1 Tablespoon of ripe sourdough starter (i.e. starter that has not been recently fed and needs to be refreshed). Add 150 grams all purpose flour and 150 grams of water. Stir it up, cover it and let it work overnight. The next morning, your leaven should have doubled in size and be nice and puffy, ready to use. These pretzel use a large percentage of leaven and no commercial yeast. The recipe has been developed based on the percentage of flour and water in the leaven. If you choose to use bubbly sourdough starter instead, you may need to increase or decrease the amount of flour and water in the dough recipe relative to your leaven. 

Diastatic Malt Powder in Pretzels

One ingredient you may not be familiar with in the list of ingredients is diastatic malt powder. This can be purchased online (affiliate link) or you may be able to find it in your local grocery store. The technical explanation is that diastatic malt powder contains the amylase enzyme, which consumes the starches in your pretzel dough and creates sugars. This helps create an evenly browned pretzel and good crust. Diastatic malt powder also promotes a good rise. The yeast has “more food” from the breakdown of starches into sugars, which gives your pretzels a better rise. When working with diastatic malt powder, a little goes a long way. Typically you only want about 1/2 a teaspoon of diastatic malt powder per cup of flour. This recipe only calls for a small amount. Too much diastatic malt powder and your pretzels will overproof quickly. If you don’t have diastatic malt powder you can add a teaspoon of brown sugar to the dough.

Soft Sourdough Pretzel Dough

Once your leaven is ready, add the dough ingredients to a stand mixer and mix together using a dough hook. Every time I make soft sourdough pretzels, I wonder if I’ve added too much flour to the dough because initially it looks and feels a little stiff, almost crumbly. Don’t worry! This is normal. As you add the chunks of softened butter to the dough while it’s mixing, the dough will change from a little shaggy into the most perfect soft pretzel dough. After kneading for 5-6 minutes, let the dough rise and perform one stretch and fold about an hour into the bulk rise (you can watch a video on folding techniques here—stretch and fold is about halfway through the short video). The bulk rise time takes about 4-6 hours (remember this is sourdough and will take much longer than commercial yeast), depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Shaping Soft Sourdough Pretzels

In the past I’ve struggled shaping pretzels. I’ve found that this dough is the perfect consistency for shaping. No extra flour is needed, just a good countertop space. Once the dough as risen, use a bench knife to cut the dough into twelve equal pieces. Let the dough rest for another 20 minutes to relax before shaping.

To shape: Take a ball of dough. Roll it out like a rope, using both hands starting in the middle and going out toward the ends of the dough. Repeat this process, leaving the middle of the “rope” larger as you taper out toward the ends. Once you have the length you want, pull the ends up and around, twisting them together and then bringing them back down to the dough. Pinch the ends into the dough and set the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet (my favorite baking sheets here, affiliate link). Repeat with the other balls of dough until you have 12 shaped pretzels. Check out this video to watch the process below.

It is also possible to shape the dough into “logs” or even rolls for a German-style “Laugenbrot” pretzel roll. These rolls may need an extra few minutes of baking time because of their thicker shape.

Refrigerate Pretzel Dough

One of the keys to keeping a good shape on the pretzels and not letting them break apart when soaking them before baking is to refrigerate the shaped dough for an hour. You just need it long enough to help the pretzels keep their shape. After shaping, stick the soft sourdough pretzels in the refrigerator on their baking sheet for about an hour. I have never kept them in the refrigerator for a longer period of time. They could most likely be refrigerated overnight and baked the next day, though I haven’t tried it yet. I wouldn’t let them sit much longer than 24 hours refrigerated before baking. If you try it out, let me know!

European-Style Soft Pretzel Flavor

To get the traditional pretzel flavor, you have one of two options before baking. Your can dip the pretzels in a lye solution or you can boil them in a baking soda bath. The lye solution is traditional and will produce a beautiful mahogany color, glossy sheen and a chewy crust. Lye is also caustic and you need to take safety precautions when using it. The baking soda method is a bit more cumbersome ie: boiling water, adding baking soda, boiling the pretzels and then baking them. Pick which method works for you. I’ve done both and both produce delicious pretzels. If I’m going for most “authentic,” I will choose the lye method.

Lye Method

Disclaimer: lye is caustic. Always use safety glasses and rubber gloves. Wear long sleeves/pants and closed toed-shoes. Use paper towel to wipe up spills and throw them away. Rinse everything that touches lye with large amounts of water. Be sure to wash your hands and arms throughout and if you do feel anything burning, re-wash wherever it burns with soap and water and rinse dry. Lye should not be around children or pets.

I bought food grade lye here (affiliate link). It comes in a large jar and you add small amounts of lye to water to dilute it which makes it safe to consume once baked. To use the lye, begin by putting on your protective gear (including protective goggles and rubber gloves). To a large bowl, add 5 cups of water and 3 Tablespoons of food grade lye. Stir together with a spatula until dissolved. Dip each pretzel in the lye solution for 15-20 seconds. Place pretzel back on the parchment-lined baking sheet to bake.

Baking Soda Method

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add 6 Tablespoons of baking soda once the water is boiling. The water should be vigorously boiling, not just a simmer before boiling the dough. Taking a few pretzels at at time, place them in the boiling water for 90 seconds per pretzel. Remove the pretzels and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Scoring/Salt

Once the pretzels have been soaked or boiled, take a bread lame and score the bottom, thicker- part of the pretzel. A bread lame (affiliate link) will help give you the perfect score but a sharp knife will work in a pinch. Sprinkle the top of the pretzel with some flaky sea salt (affiliate link) or pretzel salt (affiliate link) for the perfect flavor. Bake the pretzels at 475 degrees for 15 minutes. 

These sourdough pretzels evoke all the best memories and are just delicious. We love them dipped in mustard, covered in melty cheese or just eaten hot and plain. The crisp, chewy crust with the flaky sea salt means that these are basically devoured once they come out of the oven, though they do freeze well after they cool to enjoy a few days later. Enjoy!

Soft Sourdough Pretzels

European-style soft, sourdough pretzels made with baking soda or lye and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. Chewy, soft and delicious!
Course Bread, Snack
Cuisine American, German
Servings 12 pretzels

Ingredients
  

Leaven

  • 1 Tablespoon ripe sourdough starter
  • 150 grams all purpose flour
  • 150 grams water

Sourdough Pretzel Dough

  • 850 grams bread flour see note
  • 420 grams water
  • 250 grams leaven
  • 19 grams salt
  • 3 grams diastatic malt powder
  • 68 grams unsalted butter softened

Lye or Baking Soda Solution

  • 3 Tablespoons food grade lye OR
  • 6 Tablespoons baking soda
  • flaky sea salt for topping

Instructions
 

Leaven

  • The night before making the pretzels, mix together 1 Tablespoon of ripe sourdough starter with 150 grams flour and 150 grams water. Cover and let rest overnight.

Sourdough Pretzel Dough

  • The next morning, in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the risen leaven, water, flour, salt and malt powder using a dough hook. The dough will be very thick, almost crumbly at first, but will come together as you add the butter.
  • Within the first minute or two of kneading, add the softened butter, 1/2 Tablespoon at a time and knead for 5-6 minutes until completely incorporated.
  • Let dough rise for 4-6 hours until puffy and just about doubled in size. After the first hour, perform one stretch and fold: reach down onto the side of the dough, pull the dough up and stretch it over the top, pushing it back down onto the other side of the dough. Rotate the bowl and repeat two or three more times as you go around the bowl. The warmth of your dough/kitchen will determine the length of rise time, though this is typically 4-6 hours.
  • After 4-6 hours, pre-shape the dough into 12 equal-sized balls, cover and rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.
  • Shape the pretzels by rolling them into a long rope. Begin rolling in the middle and then easing your way out. The middle of the "rope" should be thicker than the ends. Pull the thinner ends up, twist and press down into the pretzel. (LINK to video). See recipe note for pretzel rolls.
  • Place pretzels on a parchment lined baking sheet. Stick in the fridge for 1 hour.

Baking Sourdough Pretzels

  • Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Lye Method: Put on protective goggles and rubber gloves. Lye can burn your skin or eyes. It should not be around children or pets. To a large bowl, add 5 cups of water. Add 3 Tablespoons of food grade lye (affiliate link). Stir together with a spatula. Dip each pretzel in the lye solution for 15-20 seconds per pretzel. Place pretzels back on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Baking Soda Method: Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add 6 Tablespoons baking soda. Place pretzels in the boiling baking soda water and boil for 90 seconds per pretzel. Remove pretzels from the boiling water and place on the baking sheets.
  • Score the bottom half, thick part of the pretzel with a sharp knife or bread lame.
  • Sprinkle with pretzel salt or my favorite flaky sea salt.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Let cool or enjoy warm. For longer-term storage, freeze pretzels in a ziplock bag and re-heat when ready to eat.

Notes

Bread Flour: To substitute for bread flour, use 810 grams all purpose flour and 40 grams vital wheat gluten.
Using Lye: Lye is caustic. Always use safety glasses and rubber gloves. Wear long sleeves, pants and closed-toed shoes. Wipe up any spills with paper towels and throw away. Rinse everything that touched the lye with large amounts of water and wash hands and arms thoroughly. If you feel anything burning, re-wash affected area with soap and water, rinse and dry.
Shaping: These pretzels can also be shaped into logs or rolls for a traditional “Laugenbrot” roll. Roll up into a cylinder or shape into a roll. Proceed with recipe. Add a few minutes to the baking time so they are baked all the way through.
Keyword pretzel, sourdough

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Sweet Spinach Banana Muffins

I make a lot of muffins. Muffins are delicious, quick, easy and freeze well for quick breakfasts, snacks and even perfect to pack in lunch boxes. We have been making these sweet spinach banana muffins for years and they are a hit every time. My youngest (preschooler) seems to have a vendetta against any and all vegetables (except carrots…he’ll eat carrots). These muffins though, are his favorite. Spinach banana muffins and green smoothies are about the only way I can get green veggies into him right now. The struggle is real over here folks. But these spinach banana muffins get him his greens and he begs to make them with me. I call that a win-win!

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Kid Friendly Muffin Making

Sweet spinach banana muffins are super easy to make with kids. The wet ingredients, including the banana and 8 ounces of spinach get blended up in a blender until nice and smooth. My preschooler loves packing the spinach into the blender, whirling it around and watching all those ingredients blend together into a very green liquid mixture. The dry ingredients only need a quick whisk in a bowl and then the magic happens…pouring the green spinach liquid into the flour mixture. It is very, very green. Kids love this fun green color and it’s all natural too.

Twenty-Four Beautiful Muffins

I love a muffin recipe that makes twenty-four muffins. If you fill the muffin tins just a little over halfway full, you’ll get 24 muffins out it. If I have any leftover batter I’ll usually spoon it into the tins that look like they need a little extra batter. These USA pans (affiliate link) are my favorite muffin tins. With these pans, I only need a little spritz of cooking spray and then I can bake my muffins without muffin liners. You can also use muffin liners if you prefer that option. Let the muffins cool a bit in the tins before popping them out.

Jam-Packed with Spinach and Whole Grains

I have always loved baking and cooking but as soon as I had my first baby (over 11 years ago), I became passionate about feeding my kids the least-processed foods as possible. Making almost everything from scratch was an affordable way I found to feed my family healthy foods. Spinach banana muffins have been our go-to for years because they are delicious but also filled with whole grains and veggies. I make these muffins with 100% whole wheat flour. I buy mine at our local mill, but any whole wheat flour should work. I always use fresh spinach and don’t notice much if any flavor from the spinach in the muffins…just the bright green color.

Freeze for a Quick Meal

I’ve mentioned this before but I love freezing muffins. Let the muffins cool completely and then stick them in a gallon-sized ziplock bag in the freezer. Sometimes I’ll individually wrap them if my kids take them as part of their school lunch. To reheat, just pop in the microwave for 10-20 seconds or let them come to room temperature and enjoy. A school lunch tip that we use all the time: put them in the lunchbox frozen. They thaw throughout the morning and are nice and moist when lunchtime rolls around.

Brown Bananas and Coconut Oil

Spinach banana muffins have a pleasant banana flavor. This flavor is more pronounced if you use brown (even black) bananas. The more ripe the banana is, the more banana flavor your muffins will have. If you prefer not as strong banana flavor, use a yellow-green banana. Because you are blending the banana up in the blender with the other ingredients, you can easily use any banana you have on hand, even if it’s not quite ripe. I also like to add the coconut oil while the blender is running. Coconut oil solidifies quickly if a certain temperature is not met and adding it while blending prevents the coconut oil from solidifying into chunks.

These spinach banana muffins are really and truly some of our family’s favorites. I find myself in the kitchen making them at least once a month and I don’t mind one bit if my kids eat them for an after school snack or a quick breakfast as we’re heading out the door because they are packed with vitamins and nutrients. We are a muffin-loving family, so even when we don’t have these spinach banana muffins on hand, we usually have some kind of muffins. Some of our other favorites are these amazing chocolate chip muffins, cinnamon sugar muffins (with or without sourdough discard), carrot cake muffins (perfect for spring), pumpkin spice muffins and so many more.

Sweet Spinach Banana Muffins

Sweet spinach banana muffins are packed with 8 ounces of spinach, sweet bananas and whole wheat flour. These muffins are delicious, full of nutrients and perfect for a healthy breakfast or snack.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Total Time 38 mins
Course Bread, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 24 muffins

Ingredients
  

  • 3 medium-sized bananas mashed, see recipe notes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk see recipe notes
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted you may substitute any neutral flavored oil
  • 8 ounces baby spinach
  • 3 3/4 cup whole wheat flour see recipe note
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two muffin tins with cooking spray (my favorite muffin tins here, affiliate link).
  • To a blender, add the bananas, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, spinach and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds to a minute until the mixture is smooth and creamy. With the blender running, drizzle in the melted coconut oil and blend together until the ingredients are completely blended together.
  • To a large bowl, add the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together.
  • Pour the spinach banana liquid into the flour mixture and gently combine with a large spoon. Stir until only a few streaks of flour mixture remain (be careful not to over-mix).
  • Fill each muffin tin about half full (about 1/4 cup batter per muffin tin) until all 24 tins are filled.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes until muffins are baked all the way through. Stick a toothpick in the middle of a muffin. If it comes out clean, the muffins are ready. If a little wet batter is stuck to the toothpick, the muffins need a few minutes longer.
  • Let the muffins cool for 5-10 minutes and then remove from the tins to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Notes

Bananas: If you want a strong banana flavor in the muffins, use very ripe bananas where most of the banana is brown or even black. If you want a more mild banana flavor, use yellow bananas.
Buttermilk: I prefer to use buttermilk. If you don’t have it on hand, you can mix together 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt (for a total of 1 cup liquid) as a substitute.
Whole Wheat Flour: I like using all whole wheat flour. You can also substitute all purpose flour or 50% all purpose and 50% whole wheat flour.
This recipe was adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe “Whole Grain Hulk Muffins.” This recipe makes 24 muffins instead of 16, calls for a little less spinach and I decreased the amount of sugar from the original recipe.
Keyword banana, muffins,, spinach

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Sourdough Blueberry Crumb Cake

My family has shopped at Costco since I was a child. I was actually brought home from the hospital to Kirkland, Washington (Costco’s headquarters city) where my parents lived at the time. That name may sound familiar to you if you’ve shopped at Costco, because Kirkland is the “Costco” store brand. My grandma used to buy us Costco muffins (you know those giant muffins that are more like cake than muffin?!) and I would always, always pick blueberry. I love the taste of the tart blueberries mixed with a sweet muffin. The minute I cut into this sourdough blueberry crumb cake I had a childhood flashback to those Costco muffins. This cake is thick and full of blueberries. It also has considerably less sugar than a Costco muffin and is jam-packed with tart blueberries. The crumb topping takes it over the top and had me coming back for “tastes” throughout the day. If you are also a fan of blueberry muffins, you’ve got to try this sourdough blueberry crumb cake.

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Sourdough Discard or Sourdough Starter?

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 breads to put it into. The sourdough discard enhances the flavor and creates less kitchen waste. Not all sourdough discard is created equal, though. 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.

Fresh or Frozen Blueberries?

My local Kroger had a great deal on blueberries this past week, so I used fresh blueberries in this sourdough blueberry crumb cake. The fresh blueberries gave this crumb cake delicious flavor. If you can, I recommend using fresh blueberries. If fresh isn’t not an option, you can use frozen blueberries. Truthfully I don’t always have fresh blueberries on hand and more often than not have a bag of frozen berries available. Toss the frozen blueberries in 1-2 teaspoons of flour, lightly coating them before stirring the berries into the cake mixture. This helps so they don’t all fall to the bottom of the cake and will be more evenly dispersed throughout. I’ve made this sourdough blueberry crumb cake with fresh and frozen blueberries and it’s delicious both times. The frozen blueberry cake did take a little more time to bake, so be prepared to add on 5-10 minutes of bake time if you use frozen blueberries.

Blueberry Crumb Topping

One of the things that sets this cake apart is the delicious crumb topping. Melt the butter, add in the dry ingredients and mix together with a spoon until you get a thick and crumbly topping. Use your fingers to sprinkle the crumb topping all over the top of the cake. I also like to dot the top of the cake with a few more fresh blueberries, pressing them in between pieces of crumb topping so that there is blueberry in every bite. Once this crumb topping is baked up, it makes the perfect sweet, crumbly crust. My four year old could be found sneaking pieces of crumb topping all. day. long. And I don’t blame him. It is GOOD!

Baking the Sourdough Blueberry Crumb Cake

Sourdough blueberry crumb cake takes a little over an hour to bake. It bakes up nice and tall and can be cut into 16 good sized pieces. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the crumb cake for a little over an hour. I like to check on the cake after about 55 minutes (oven temperatures can vary). If the cake is jiggly in the middle, keep baking for another 10 minutes. I’ve found that my cake needs about 65-75 minutes to bake all the way through. If you are using frozen blueberries it may take a little bit longer than if using fresh blueberries.

I love this sourdough blueberry crumb cake. It is not overly sweet (you can add a little more sugar if you want a sweeter cake) and the blueberry really shines through. The cake rises beautifully and would be perfect for a family brunch, to pull out as a special after-school snack or even to drink with a cup of tea on a snowy day. If you are a blueberry muffin lover like me, add this recipe to your “to-make” list. It’s delicious.

Sourdough Blueberry Crumb Cake

Sourdough blueberry crumb cake is a lightly sweetened cake made with sourdough discard, studded with sweet blueberries and topped with a sweet crumb topping. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or a snack, this crumb cake is delicious!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 16 slices

Ingredients
  

Crumb Topping

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Sourdough Blueberry Cake

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sourdough discard or bubbly sourdough starter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk see recipe notes for substitutions
  • 2.5 cups fresh blueberries see recipe note for frozen blueberries

Instructions
 

Crumb Topping

  • Melt 6 Tablespoons of butter. Add the sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, salt and flour. Mix together until it forms a moist, crumbly topping. Set aside the crumb topping for later.

Sourdough Blueberry Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • To a small bowl, add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Fluff together with a fork. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer, mix together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and creamy.
  • Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix again, scraping the sides and bottom as needed until fully incorporated, light and fluffy.
  • Pour ¾ cup sourdough discard (direct from the fridge or use ripe sourdough starter) and add to the bowl. Mix together.
  • Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until smooth.
  • Add 2 cups of fresh blueberries (reserving ½ cup for topping) to the batter and stir lightly to combine. See recipe note if using fresh blueberries.
  • Line an 8 by 8 pan (my favorite, affiliate link) with parchment paper. Pour blueberry cake mixture into the pan and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the cake, spreading it evenly and breaking up clumps with your fingers as you go. Dot the top with the reserved ½ cup of blueberries.
  • Bake the cake for 60-75 minutes until baked through. Once the cake has stopped jiggling in the middle, take a sharp knife and stick it straight in the middle of the cake. If it has batter on it, continue baking a few more minutes. If it comes out clean, the cake is finished baking.
  • Cool and slice to serve. The cake stores well at room temperature for a day or two or can be frozen for longer storage.

Notes

Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can substitute 1/4 cup milk mixed with 1/4 cup sour cream.
Blueberries: Fresh blueberries are best for this recipe, but frozen blueberries work too in a pinch. If using frozen blueberries, toss them in 1-2 teaspoons of flour and then gently stir into the batter. This helps the blueberries spread throughout the cake and not sink to the bottom. Using frozen blueberries may also increase the baking time about 10 minutes. 
Keyword blueberry, crumb cake, snack cake

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Gingerbread Snack Cake with Sourdough Discard

Gingerbread has always been one of my favorite holiday flavors. As a kid living in Europe with my family, I grew up going to German Christmas markets: stalls filled with nutcrackers, handmade trinkets and intricately iced “Lebkuchen” (gingerbread). I was always intrigued by the sweet and spicy smell and the delicious flavor. This sourdough gingerbread cake evokes so many of those Christmas childhood memories and will make your whole house smell like Christmas. It is a soft and tender crumb, jam-packed with gingerbread/molasses flavor and uses up a bunch of sourdough discard. My kids especially love this sourdough gingerbread snack cake and always ask for extra whipped cream. It takes me back to my childhood Christmas memories and is the perfect snack cake to eat all winter long.

Jump to Gingerbread Snack Cake with Sourdough Discard Recipe

Sourdough Discard in Gingerbread Cake

A word of warning: not all sourdough discard is created equal, age makes a difference. The discard that has been sitting in my fridge for a week or two gives a lot more “tang” to this cake. For some recipes you will want to taste that sourdough flavor. For this recipe, I prefer to use sourdough discard that is only a day or two old, so it cuts down on the tang. My family didn’t even know there was sourdough in this recipe. You can also use bubbly sourdough starter if you want in this gingerbread snack cake and it should work well. If you want to taste the tangy sourdough along with the gingerbread spices, go ahead and use up that 2 week old discard from your fridge. It will still taste delicious.

Blackstrap Molasses

Molasses is made out of sugar cane, and it is categorized depending on how many times the sugar cane syrup has been boiled and then extracted. The first boiling/extracting is light molasses. Second boiling/extracting is dark molasses and third boiling/extracting produces Blackstrap molasses (affiliate link). It is the most concentrated molasses and has a bittersweet flavor on its own. Typically you will find the “light” molasses in a regular grocery store. Health food stores and some grocery stores will often carry blackstrap molasses due to the concentrated nutrients found in it. In this cake, I love the flavor the blackstrap molasses brings when combined with the sugars. It gives a depth of delicious molasses flavor that pairs so nicely with the spices. If you don’t have blackstrap molasses on hand, you can substitute it for regular molasses (it just might not have as “punchy” of a flavor).

A Few Gingerbread Snack Cake Tips:

  1. The first step in making this gingerbread snack cake is to mix very hot (nearly boiling) water with the molasses. This helps break down the sugars in the molasses and lets it fully incorporate into the cake batter. 
  2. I use one bowl for this gingerbread snack cake. I add my spices directly to the center of the bowl and mix them in before adding in the sourdough discard and flour. I like to go with “less cleanup”, and with four kids, we always have a lot of dishes. You can find some of my other favorite one-bowl recipes: here, here and here.
  3. I like to bake this cake at 400 degrees for the first ten minutes and then reduce the temperature and continue the bake. This hot temperature activates the baking powder in the cake, giving it a beautiful domed top. 

Deep Gingerbread/Molasses Flavor

If you really want the deep gingerbread flavor, this cake needs to cool completely before serving. As the cake cools, the flavors bloom and turn into the perfect mix of molasses/gingerbread heaven. If I am making this cake for my family, we will often snack on a piece fresh out of the oven…and then wait for it to cool and have another slice. We like to top it with whipped cream (fresh is best, but we don’t always have heavy whipping cream on hand), and it is just delicious. I hope you enjoy it too!

Gingerbread Snack Cake with Sourdough Discard

A soft and tender crumb, jam packed with gingerbread/molasses flavor and uses up a bunch of sourdough discard: the perfect Christmas snack cake.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cake

Ingredients
  

  • 1/3 cup very hot water
  • 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses can substitute regular molasses
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar can also use dark brown
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil any neutral flavored oil works
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup sourdough discard see note
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat an 8 by 8 pan with cooking spray or a parchment sling.
  • To a liquid measuring cup, add 1/3 cup water. Microwave it until very hot or almost boiling. You can also do this on the stovetop. Add the molasses to the hot water and mix together. Set aside.
  • To a medium-sized bowl, add brown sugar, granulated sugar and oil. Mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and mix.
  • Add the molasses/water mixture, mixing as your pour it in (this helps temper the egg if the molasses mixture is still very hot). Continue mixing until completely incorporated.
  • Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and cloves directly to the middle of the bowl and mix together, taking care not to splash any of it out of the bowl.
  • Add the greek yogurt and sourdough discard. Mix together. Then add the flour and mix until just combined.
  • Pour the mixture into your greased pan and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-40 minutes until the center is no longer jiggly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool before serving. This gingerbread snack cake deepens in flavor as it cools. Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar or fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!

Notes

Not all sourdough discard is created equal. For best results, use discard that is only a few days old at the most. You can also substitute ripe, bubbly sourdough starter for the discard in this recipe.
Keyword gingerbread, sourdough

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Pretzel Bites with Sourdough Discard

You guys know how much I love sourdough, right? It is one of my favorite things to bake with. I love the smell of fresh yeast, the light tang of the dough and the quality of the bread. I also love developing and baking recipes with my sourdough discard. It’s the perfect way to boost the flavor in a roll, biscuit or even pancakes and waffles. These sourdough discard pretzel bites are the best of the best when it comes to sourdough baking. They are light, fluffy and use up some of that discard lurking in the back of your fridge. Come on…I know it’s back there…just waiting for the perfect recipe to be used in. This is it!

Jump Directly to Pretzel Bites with Sourdough Discard Recipe

Why Use Sourdough Discard in Pretzel Bites? 

I am not a fan of food waste. I try to find uses for almost everything in my kitchen, and I enjoy meal planning to use up all the random veggies I have at the end of the week. This same thought process goes for sourdough discard. I love that this recipe helps me do my part in decreasing food waste by utilizing the sourdough discard. Truthfully, I keep discard in my fridge just so I can make this recipe—it is that good! If you don’t have discard in your fridge, go ahead and sub fresh sourdough starter. It will work too. 

Instant Yeast Helps the Pretzel Dough Rise

Discard in this recipe refers to refrigerated sourdough culture that is past its prime and over-ripe. it won’t have the same properties as a fresh, young, bubbly leaven (or sourdough starter). The cultures are often sluggish and do not produce the same rise as a bubbly starter would. Because of this, the pretzel dough benefits from the addition of instant yeast (affiliate link: I buy my yeast at my local mill, so look around to price check ). I love instant yeast for its fool-proof nature, but if you only have active dry, that’s okay too. Just proof it with a little warm water and sugar, wait 5 minutes and you should be good to go. The instant yeast gives the dough a quick rise while the sourdough discard gives a slight depth of flavor to the pretzel bites.

Baking Soda Wash

One of the unique things about these sourdough pretzel bites is the baking soda wash that is applied to the pretzels before baking in the oven. This gives the pretzels a golden brown, crunchy exterior with a soft, chewy middle that is just delicious. The baking soda wash is so simple and perfect for those little fingers that want to help you in the kitchen. Heat up ½ cup of water in the microwave until very hot (almost boiling but not quite). Add in a Tablespoon of baking soda (watch for the mixture to fizz up). Stir vigorously until the baking soda is completely combined with the water. Then brush the mixture using a pastry brush (affiliate link) onto each pretzel bite. Let the pretzel bites rise for 10-15 minutes while the oven preheats and then bake to perfection.

Brush on that Butter and Top or Dip to Perfection

Don’t skip over this step when making these sourdough discard pretzel bites. Keep on brushing the melted butter on top of the hot pretzel bites until it is all used up. The butter helps the toppings adhere and gives a delicious flavor to the pretzel bites. It’s worth it. Promise. Once the pretzels are fully covered in butter and toppings, enjoy them hot. They definitely do taste best eaten right away. We also like dipping them in cheese sauce or this yummy honey mustard sauce

  • Dipping sauce: 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard and 2 Tablespoons honey

Perfect Recipe to Bake with Kids

If you’re looking for a particularly kid-friendly recipe, this one is it. You can mix up the dough with your child or ahead of time and then after the dough’s first rise, let them help you roll the pretzels into logs, cut them up into bites and brush with the baking soda mixture. Kids can be so hands-on in this recipe and they love brushing the tops of the pretzels with melted butter and toppings at the end…not to mention eating them! Definitely check this recipe out if you are looking for a fun afternoon baking with your kids.

Double the Recipe to Make a Batch of Pretzels Too

While I am partial to the pretzel bites, this dough does make delicious pretzels too. My kids seem to love shaping the pretzels and playing with the dough, so I often double this recipe and shape half into pretzel bites and let them shape the other half into pretzels. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece and shape into a U. Fold over, twist around and then bring the ends down and pinch into the bottom part of the dough (see pictures for visual). Brush with the baking soda wash, bake for 9 minutes at 500 degrees, brush with melted butter and toppings and you have some delicious sourdough discard pretzels. These pretzel are yummy and fun for kids to make, though I really am partial to the pretzel bites; the perfect chewy, “pillowy” goodness in one bite.

Sourdough Pretzel Bites Make the Perfect Snack

Sourdough discard pretzel bites are the perfect snack. They are small, perfect to feed a crowd and absolutely delicious. I love how easy these are to customize so everyone can enjoy their perfect pretzel bite. Go find that sourdough discard in the back of your fridge and enjoy an ethereal soft, crispy sourdough discard pretzel bite. Yum!

Pretzel Bites with Sourdough Discard

Crispy, chewy and delicious pretzel bites made with sourdough discard. Perfect for a crowd or a snack. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 32 pretzel bites

Ingredients
  

Pretzel Dough

  • 1/2 cup sourdough discard or bubbly sourdough starter, 145 grams
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water 175 grams
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 5 grams
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast 7 grams
  • 1 teaspoon salt 5 grams
  • 2 cups all purpose flour* 285 grams, plus more for rolling

Baking Soda Wash

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda

Toppings

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons salt for topping
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese if desired
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar if desired

Instructions
 

  • To a large bowl or to bowl in a stand mixer, mix together the sourdough discard, water, sugar, instant yeast, salt and flour.
  • Knead by hand about 5-8 minutes or knead in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. Add a little more flour as needed. The dough will still be sticky, but not overly sticky. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a ball in your fingers. If it forms a ball with minimal sticky residue left on your fingers, you can stop adding flour. Check out a few other tips for kneading dough here.
  • Lightly oil a bowl or container (affiliate link) and turn the dough around in the bowl to cover it lightly with the oil. Drape a kitchen towel or some plastic wrap over the bowl and let dough rise for 1-1 ½ hours.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once dough has doubled in size, flour a counter with 1-2 Tablespoons flour and punch down the dough. Turn it out onto the floured surface and separate into 4 sections.
  • Roll each section into a long strand and cut each strand into 6-8 pretzel pieces. Place each pretzel bite on the parchment paper.
  • Heat ½ cup of water in the microwave until almost boiling. Add 1 Tablespoon of baking soda (it will bubble up a little) and mix together. Make sure the baking soda is completely dissolved before proceeding.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush each pretzel bite with the baking soda/water mixture.
  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Let the pretzel bites rise for about 10-15 minutes (usually the amount of time it takes for the oven to preheat) before baking.
  • Bake the pretzel bites for about 8 minutes until crisp and lightly brown on the outside.
  • While the pretzel bites are baking, melt the unsalted butter and prepare any toppings (salt, parmesan cheese, cinnamon sugar).
  • As soon as the pretzel bites are baked through, remove them from the oven and brush with melted butter. Continue adding butter until all of the butter is on the pretzel bites. It may seem like a lot of butter, but keep adding it for the best taste and flavor.
  • Top with salt, cinnamon sugar or parmesan cheese and enjoy immediately.

Notes

*Flour: You may need more or less flour than called for in this recipe depending on the percentage of flour and water your sourdough discard has. Check for readiness of the dough by rolling the dough into a ball in your fingertips. If it forms a ball with just a little sticky residue on your fingers, you can stop adding flour. If it is very sticky, add a little more flour about a Tablespoon at a time.
Substitutions: Bubbly sourdough starter can be substituted for sourdough discard. Alternatively, if you don’t have sourdough discard on hand, the discard can be omitted and you can increase the flour to 2 1/3 cups the water to 1 cup of water in the recipe. Keep the other ingredients the same.
 
Keyword pretzel bites, pretzels,

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Irish Soda Bread

I am a “tradition” kind of mom. I don’t think it needs to take a lot of work or brain power to make holidays fun for our family. Just putting out a few decorative plates or making a unique recipe from ingredients I already have on hand is enough. It’s amazing how the little things can form into new family traditions! This Irish Soda Bread is a quick, easy way to bring a little fun to the month of March or to enjoy with a hearty soup year round.

Jump to Irish Soda Bread Recipe

St. Patrick’s Day Traditions

St. Patrick’s Day has always been a day of fun in our house. The weekend before my kids create “houses” for the leprechaun to visit when he comes to our house. I know some families make leprechaun traps which are also a fun idea. We use recycled boxes (thank you amazon prime), all the green construction paper from our craft closet and our imaginations. The night before St. Patrick’s Day they pull out their little houses and set them up around our house. The leprechaun “magically” pays a visit that night leaving little green footprints and a trail to follow which leads to a pot of gold (coins) at the end of the trail. 

St. Patrick’s Day Meal

Other ways we make this somewhat ordinary day special are by wearing green, checking out books from the library on leprechauns and Ireland and eating something green or Irish for dinner. This varies from year to year but we always try to make our dinner something special. I often make this Irish Soda Bread. Paired with a hearty stew, corned beef and cabbage or even some baked potatoes and roasted veggies this would make a great addition to your St. Patrick’s Day meal. By the middle of March, we are all looking for fun things to celebrate as we are coming out of the winter months.

History Behind Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread was adopted in the 1800s after the potato famine. It was inexpensive, with only a few ingredients and easy to make. Originally the bread contained nothing more than flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Over the years, recipes have been changed to increase the flavor and taste but the leavening agent remains the same: baking soda. Some areas of Ireland would cut a cross in the top of the bread to ward off evil and protect their families. The texture and flavor of Irish Soda Bread reminds me of a giant biscuit with a hard crust. It is a crowd-pleaser, quick to make and fun to eat. I hope you’ll give it a try!

Irish Soda Bread

A giant loaf of biscuit-like bread, studded with currants and flavored with some orange zest. This is the perfect bread to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, serve with soup or enjoy as a snack.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Course Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine Irish
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients
  

  • 1 3/4 cup buttermilk see recipe notes
  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup currants or raisins optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Set aside.
  • Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and lightly mix together. Add the currants and orange zest if using and lightly coat with the flour mixture.
  • Grate the cold butter directly into the mixture or cut the butter into small chunks or use a pastry cutter until the butter is finely incorporated. There should be no big lumps of butter, just small pea-sized pieces.
  • Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir to lightly incorporate. If the dough is a little sticky, add a little extra flour. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead once or twice. This is a quick bread, so you don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour with a lot of kneading. Shape into a round circle.
  • Transfer the loaf to the baking pan and score a large X on the top. Bake for 20 minutes and then check the top of your bread. If it is browning quickly, cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent burning. Bake until the bread is cooked through, about 45-50 minutes. 
  • Allow bread to cool 15 minutes and then serve warm. It can also be eaten at room temperature or toasted for a snack later. Enjoy!

Notes

Buttermilk: I always pick up buttermilk at the store to use in my baking. I think it is superior to most substitutions. With that said, the best substitutions I have found for one cup of buttermilk are:
  • a mixture of ½ cup plain yogurt (or sour cream) and ½ cup milk mixed together (per cup of buttermilk)
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar replaces 1 Tablespoon whole milk in a cup, let it sit for 5 minutes before using
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice replaces 1 Tablespoon whole milk in a cup, let it sit for 5 minutes before using
Keyword biscuit,, Irish Soad Bread, St. Patrick’s Day

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