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.

Jump to Sourdough Blueberry Crumb Cake Recipe

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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Sourdough French Bread

As a girl living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I used to always add loaves of French bread to the grocery list from our local grocery store. It was light, fluffy and was easily one of my favorite breads of all time. That bread, however, doesn’t exist in many parts of the U.S. so I decided to make my own loaf of French bread using 100% sourdough starter and no commercial yeast in sight. While the end product doesn’t taste exactly like the Bay Area store-bought version (which undoubtedly has commercial yeast, dough enhancers, etc…), it is a stand-alone delicious bread in its own right. This sourdough french bread is initially a little crispy on the outside. As it cools it softens and you cut into a tender, light and just slightly tangy inside. With just a few simple ingredients and an active sourdough starter,  you can have this bread on your dinner table too!

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Power-Feed the Starter Before Baking

Before beginning to bake a loaf using 100% sourdough starter, make sure that your starter is active. I like to “power-feed” my starter before beginning a loaf that has no commercial yeast in it. Starters can be trained to rise bread predictably and giving them a little power-feed refresh is the best way to do this. In the past when I have not power-fed the starter, I tend to get a sluggish rise from my bread. There’s nothing worse than spending two days to make a loaf of bread and coming out with a sub-par rise. Note that if your starter is already doubling or tripling in size every time you feed it, you may not need to “power-feed” before mixing your leaven.

How to Power-Feed Your Starter

A day before you mix up the bread, feed your starter 2-3 times in a 24 hour period. To do so, discard all but a few Tablespoons of starter. Feed with ½ cup flour and ¼ cup water (may need a tad more water depending on how you scoop your flour). Mix, mark your jar and let rise. About 6-8 hours later repeat the process, noting how much your starter rose. Discard starter for the second time (all but a few tablespoons), feed the remaining starter again and mark the jar. Six to eight hours later, before you go to bed, repeat the process a third time, discarding and feeding. When you wake up the next morning, your starter should be doubling or tripling in size (check it out with the marked jar). This is the kind of activity you want to see from a starter to be able to raise bread.  

Double Check With The Float Test

If you are like me and want to double check that your starter is ready to raise bread, you can always perform the float test. Fill a clear cup with some room temperature water. Take a little spoonful of bubbly starter and plop it in the cup. If it floats, you are ready to proceed with the recipe. If it sinks, give it a bit more time and test again in another hour. If your starter is still not floating, but it has doubled or tripled in size, it may be over-ripe. You can still use this starter, but your bread may end up with more “sour” notes. You can see a video of how to perform the float test here.

Making the Leaven

Once your starter is consistently doubling or tripling in size, you are ready to use it to mix up the leaven for the bread. I think of my sourdough starter as my “mother starter” that I constantly feed. To make any of my sourdough breads, I take some of the “mother starter” and add flour and water to it to create the amount of leaven I need to use in my bread. Technically you could directly use bubbly sourdough starter, but I find that recipes are easier to understand and come out more consistently when I use my starter in this way. To mix up the leaven, take 1 Tablespoon of sourdough starter and add to it flour and water. Cover it and let it sit 8-12 hours until it has risen and can pass the float test. Then it is ready to raise the bread.

Vital Wheat Gluten

I don’t always have bread flour on hand. To help combat this issue, I bought a large bag of vital wheat gluten (affiliate link). Vital wheat gluten is made from wheat flour and is almost pure gluten. I use this all the time in my bread recipes to increase the protein in bread, build structure and improve the elasticity and rise in my dough. A little goes a long way and I typically use about 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten per cup of all-purpose flour, which makes a great substitute for bread flour. If you don’t have vital wheat gluten, you can substitute bread flour for the all purpose flour in this recipe and omit the vital wheat gluten.

Time and Health Benefits

As with all sourdough and natural yeast recipes, this recipe is going to take some time to rise. The cultures in your fresh yeast break down the bran of the wheat, making the bread more digestible and providing more health benefits than bread made with commercial yeast. The temperature of your kitchen will have an effect on the length of time the bread will take to rise. The recipe calls out a range of time because of those temperature factors. If you are making this sourdough french bread in the winter it may take closer to 6 hours for your loaf’s second rise (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). One of the reasons I love this recipe is that the bulk rise happens overnight, which means the starter is doing all the work while you are asleep.

A Sample Timeline: Sourdough French Bread

Day 1: Power-Feed Your Starter 2-3 times (omit this step if it’s already doubling/tripling in size regularly)

Day 2: 

  • 8-10 AM Mix the leaven. Cover and leave to rise until it has doubled in size and passes the float test.
  • 6-8 PM Mix the dough using a stand mixer. Cover and let rise overnight.

Day 3

  • 6-8 AM Shape dough, cover and let rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled.
  • 11-2 PM Score loaves and bake.

Baking Tips

I often place my loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet to rise and they turn out great. If you want your loaf to turn out similar to a traditional baguette and you are planning to bake a lot of baguette style loaves, investing in one of these (affiliate link) special baguette pans is worth it in my opinion. They help give a crispy crust with the air flow around the entire baguette and produce a superior product. This is not to say you can’t get a beautiful loaf on a traditional baking sheet and if you aren’t planning to bake much baguette, I wouldn’t worry about a baguette pan. To help either type of loaf get a crispy crust, I like to throw a few ice cubes into the bottom of my preheated oven right before before baking the baguettes. The ice cubes produce steam throughout the baking process which gives a beautiful crispy crust to these sourdough baguettes. 

If you love sourdough or want an easy-to-follow recipe to use your starter with, this recipe is really a great one. The dough is mixed in a stand mixer, it rises overnight and produces a few delicious loaves of french bread. The only “tricky” part for sourdough newbies is just making sure your starter is active and able to raise a loaf of bread. I’m hoping these tips will help you feel confident to try it out! Before you know it you can be pulling out some beautiful loaves of sourdough bread to sop up some soup, enjoy with butter or just to tear apart on a a family picnic. Enjoy!

Soft Sourdough French Bread

Crispy but soft, tangy and light this sourdough french bread is made with 100% sourdough starter and is absolutely delicious.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Rise Time 16 hrs
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 2 loaves

Ingredients
  

Leaven: 8-12 hours before mixing dough

  • 1 Tablespoon sourdough starter
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup room temperature water

Dough

  • All of the leaven or 1 1/4 cups bubbly sourdough starter
  • 2 cups room temperature water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6-7 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten *see recipe notes

Instructions
 

Leaven

  • Eight to twelve hours before mixing the dough, add 1 Tablespoon of ripe sourdough starter to a small bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup water to the starter. Mix together and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 8-12 hours until it has doubled in size and passes the float test.

Mixing the Dough

  • To the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook add the bubbly leaven, water, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil.
  • Add 5.5 cups flour and the vital wheat gluten and mix. Continue adding flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, the dough is tacky (but not overly sticky) and you can pinch of a piece of dough, roll it in your fingers and just have a little bit of residual dough on your fingers. Check out these tips to know if your dough is ready.
  • Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes (set a timer and let the mixer go) and add a Tablespoon of flour at a time as needed.
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 8-12 hours (overnight).
  • The next morning the dough will have risen. The amount of rise depends a lot on the temperature of your kitchen. Don't worry, if your starter is very active, it will be okay.
  • Transfer the dough to a countertop. Cut the dough in two sections for two large loaves or in three for three smaller loaves.
  • Pat the dough into a rectangle and roll up cinnamon-roll style, pinching the seams closed as you roll.
  • Repeat with the remaining sourdough loaves.
  • Place the loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet or use a baguette bread pan. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let the loaves rise for 3-6 hours until puffy and almost doubled in size (the time will depend on the warmth of your kitchen).

Baking the Bread

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Throw a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven while it preheats.
  • Slash or score the loaves with a bread lame or sharp knife.
  • Bake the bread for 35 minutes until a nice golden color. Brush with melted butter and let cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

Vital Wheat Gluten: If you don’t have vital wheat gluten (I buy mine here), you can omit it and use bread flour in place of all purpose flour. 
Keyword soft french bread, sourdough bread

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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!

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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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The Best Zucchini Bread with Sourdough Discard

I had big dreams this year of planting a large beautiful garden and watching it grow all summer long. This did not happen. My big beautiful garden did not grow very well this summer (thank you bunnies, weird weather and a somewhat last-minute long-distance road trip that kept me from tending to the garden much throughout the summer). I was hoping for big, beautiful zucchini to sautee as a side to any meal, turn into our favorite zucchini boats or make many loaves of this amazing zucchini bread. This zucchini bread is light, tender, fluffy and uses up some of the sourdough discard that I always seem to have lurking in the back of my fridge. Lucky for me, my local farmers market and grocery store carry lots of zucchini this time of year.

Jump Ahead to The Best Zucchini Bread Recipe

Sourdough Discard in Zucchini Bread

If you have zucchini coming out your ears and sourdough discard taking over your fridge, this recipe is for you! I love using sourdough discard in recipes, not only for the little tang it gives but also because I’m not a fan of wasting food. This recipe uses ½ cup of sourdough discard directly from your fridge (you can also use bubbly sourdough starter) and it enhances the flavor of this delicious zucchini bread. If you don’t have sourdough starter, don’t worry. You can still make an awesome loaf of zucchini bread: Omit the sourdough starter. Add 2 cups of flour instead of 1 2/3 cups and 1/4 cup of milk to the batter. That’s it. I made both recipes side by side (pictured above) and both were delicious. You don’t need sourdough starter to make this delicious loaf, but if you have it on hand, it is the perfect way to use up some of your sourdough discard.

Wringing Out the Zucchini 

Did you know that 1 cup of chopped zucchini is made up of 90% water? Because of this high water content, it’s important to wring out the zucchini a bit before adding it to the recipe. The pictures below show the easy way I do this. Take a box grater, shred the zucchini and then use a paper towel to wring the zucchini. I give it about three squeezes over my sink and call it good. This little extra step will help your zucchini bread to turn out perfectly moist and delicious.

Baking Temperature and Time

One of the tricks I’ve learned over the years I’ve been baking is to bake quickbreads, like zucchini bread, at a high temperature for the first 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to finish the longer bake time. The high heat helps activate the baking powder giving a nice lift and rounded dome shape to your loaf of zucchini bread. This zucchini bread takes about an hour to bake. I like to stick a knife or toothpick in the center to see if it’s completely baked all the way through. Depending on the temperature of your oven it may need more or less time.

Quick Mix. Long Bake. Delicious Zucchini Bread

Whatever way you slice it, this zucchini bread is delicious. It is tender, moist and perfect to gift this time of year. It is my kids’ favorite way to eat zucchini. They do eat other preparations of zucchini, though maybe not as willingly. If I only had to make one zucchini bread recipe for the rest of my life, this would be the one. It is that good! I hope you enjoy it too.

The Best Zucchini Bread with Sourdough Discard

Amy
Light, fluffy, tender and absolutely delicious, this zucchini bread recipe is perfect for using up garden zucchini and sourdough discard.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Bread, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf of zucchini bread

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup sourdough discard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt (sour cream can be substituted in a pinch)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 8.5 by 4.5 loaf pan (you can also use a 9 by 5 loaf pan) with parchment paper.
  • Wash 1 lb of zucchini and chop off the ends. Use a box grater (affiliate link) to shred the zucchini. Grab a sheet or two of paper towel. Add the shredded zucchini to the middle of the paper towel and wrap the zucchini up to form a ball. Squeeze the paper-towel ball of zucchini over the sink 2-3 times to wring most of the water out of the zucchini. Continue this process until you have 1 ½ cups of shredded zucchini.
  • To a bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Stir together with a fork until fluffy and combined. Add the zucchini and stir until the zucchini is spread throughout the dry mixture and thoroughly combined.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, measure out ½ cup of sourdough starter. Add the eggs, vegetable oil and greek yogurt. Stir well to combine.
  • Add the liquids to the dry ingredients. Mix together with a fork or spoon until just combined (over-mixing will result in tough zucchini bread and nobody wants that).
  • Pour the zucchini bread batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. This helps ensure a nicely domed loaf of bread.
  • After 10 minutes reduce the temperature to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Insert a toothpick or sharp knife into the center of the bread to check if it is ready. If it comes out clean with no streaks of batter, it is ready! If it has streaks of wet batter, bake it a little longer and check again.
  • Allow the zucchini loaf to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the loaf pans. Move the loaf to a cooling rack and cool completely before digging in. Enjoy!

Notes

To make an absolutely amazing loaf of zucchini bread without the sourdough discard, omit the sourdough discard. Increase the all purpose flour to 2 cups. Add ¼ of milk  to the liquid ingredients before mixing with the batter.
 

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Dehydrating Sourdough starter: Long-Term Storage

I love baking in general but sourdough has a special place in my heart. I have spent countless hours researching, experimenting and baking with sourdough starter. Sourdough is a labor of love and I still have a spark of joy every time I take the top off my dutch oven and see the “oven spring” in a beautiful loaf of bread. 

What do you do when you need to take a break from your sourdough “baby?”

Because keeping sourdough alive is such a process, (tips for maintaining your sourdough starter here), it can be a little disheartening to leave your “sourdough baby” when you have a vacation or you just want to take a little break from the daily or weekly feeding process. In the past, after months of successful baking, I have let my starter die because I didn’t know how to travel with it or store it properly when I needed a break from the daily feeding process (when I had my babies, job changes or moves, etc…). 

This year I feel a particularly special connection to my sourdough starter. We’ve been through a lot together…COVID-19, my son’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis, “unintentional homeschooling,” and starting up this blog. We have baked a lot of good loaves of bread together. When I decided to travel across the country to visit family post-quarantine, I didn’t want to leave my sourdough starter behind. I knew I had to find a way to travel with it that didn’t have me stopping at gas stations every morning to feed my starter or having it confiscated at airport security for it being a “liquid.”

Long-Term or Short-Term Sourdough Starter Storage

Sourdough starter can be kept in your fridge with a weekly feeding and honestly it can usually keep in the fridge for up to a month or longer if you really “forget about it” (though I wouldn’t recommend it!). The best way I’ve found to travel with sourdough starter or to store it if you just need a little break from a weekly feeding is to dehydrate your starter. Once the starter has been dehydrated and placed in an air-tight container, you can store the starter in a cool, dry, dark location for many months…even years.

How to Dehydrate Sourdough Starter

  1. If you have been feeding your starter at room temperature daily: Feed it like normal and wait until the starter barely doubles in size (usually 4-6 hours) and is very bubbly.
  2. If you have been feeding your starter weekly in the fridge: Feed your starter like normal and leave it on the counter. After 12 hours, feed it again and wait 12 hours at room temperature. Feed it for the third time and wait (usually 4-6 hours) until it is very bubbly.
  3. Once the starter is very bubbly (usually 4-6 hours after feeding), line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an offset spatula (affiliate link), spread the bubbly sourdough starter very thinly onto the piece of parchment paper.
  1. 4. Let the starter air dry for up to 24 hours. If after 24 hours the starter is not dry, try setting it in your oven with the oven light on. Make sure your oven is turned OFF. Turning the oven on will kill your starter. Leaving just the oven light on with the starter inside and the door closed will give off enough heat to help dry out the starter. Alternatively you can leave it out at room temperature to dry for another few hours.
  1. 5. Once the starter is completely dry, break it up into little pieces and place in an airtight container. Store in a dark, cool place for many months or up to a few years (Full disclosure: I haven’t stored my starter for years, but everything I’ve researched has shown that with proper storage a dehydrated starter will store for a long time).

Travel. Take a Break. Mail some to a Friend.

Once your starter is dehydrated and stored, go ahead and feel the freedom of traveling…or just not being tied to the feeding process. Sometimes you need a little break. Bring a little starter with you if you want to bake for family/friends you are visiting, or keep it in your pantry if you want a little break. You could even mail some to a friend who wants to make their own sourdough bread but can’t seem to figure out how to get a starter going. If you need tips for creating your own starter, check them out here. Once you are ready to bake with your starter again, start the re-hydration process. This will take about 2 days (48ish hours) to get your starter nice and bubbly, and is very dependent on temperature and climate, so plan accordingly.

Dehydrated starter ready to re-hydrate (or store in an airtight container).

How to Re-hydrate your Sourdough Starter

Note: If you are in a new-to-you area and don’t know the properties of tap water (some tap water has small amounts of chlorine in it, which is not good for sourdough), feed your dehydrated starter with distilled or bottled water

First Hour

Choose a jar to rehydrate your starter in. Place the dehydrated starter into the new jar. Using distilled water (or water from a water bottle), cover the dehydrated starter with water. The water should just cover the dehydrated starter.

1-4 Hours

Stir the starter every hour for about four hours. Every time you stir the starter, notice how the sourdough is breaking down and the mixture is turning cloudy. After about four hours, the starter should be dissolved in the water. If it’s not dissolved, give it a little more time and keep stirring. Proceed once the starter is completely dissolved.

4-16 hours (or overnight)

Spoon about 1/4 cup of flour into the dissolved sourdough and mix to combine. Add more flour if the mixture is soupy. It should be the consistency of a thick batter. If needed, add 1-2 Tablespoons of water to keep the mixture the consistency of a very thick batter. Let the mixture sit overnight or about 12 hours.

16-28 hours Stir, Feed and let sit for 12 hours 

Check on the mixture. Look for bubbles, activity and maybe even some hooch (a thin, sour smelling liquid on the surface of the starter). If the starter has bubbles and looks active, feed* it. If it doesn’t look very active, let it sit in a warm place for a little bit longer.

*To feed the starter, discard 3/4 of the starter. Add 1/3-1/2 cup flour to the jar with the 1/4 cup starter remaining. Add a few Tablespoons of water and mix to combine to a thick batter consistency.

28-40 hours Stir, Feed and let sit overnight (12 hours)

Stir down the starter, pour off any hooch and feed the starter. Mark your jar and watch as the starter rises and falls.

40-52 hours Stir, Feed and let sit for 12 hours

If the starter hasn’t doubled in size yet, repeat the feeding process. Feed the starter. Mark the jar and watch for it to become bubbly and rise.

Ready to use Again

Once your starter is rising and falling predictably, it is ready to use! Location, ambient temperature, environment etc… will determine how quickly this process or re-hydrating works but your starter should be rising and falling within 48-72 hours.  

Ready to bake with! One bowl of leaven and continuing to feed my starter.

From this point, you are just a few simple ingredients away from some very, very good bread that won’t take you a week or more to make your own starter! If you are looking for some good sourdough bread recipes, check out some of my favorites here, here and here.

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Sourdough Discard: Soft White Rolls

This recipe uses a full cup of sourdough discard

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for another delicious dinner roll recipe. And I am always looking for creative ways to use up my extra sourdough discard (check out a few of my other favorite discard recipes, here, here and here). It’s one of the “hazards” of baking with sourdough I guess…always being on the lookout for somewhere to use that extra! I think especially right now in our current climate, it is important to find uses for as much as we can and waste as little as possible. These soft white sourdough discard rolls started out as a recipe to reduce waste and now…they are a reason I want to keep my starter fed. Just so I can have discard to make these rolls!

Jump to Recipe Jump to Recipe

Tender with a slight Sourdough Tang

Super soft, tender, light and a slight tang for the sourdough discard, these rolls are sure to be a hit in your family as well. My kids were all begging for seconds when I pulled these out of the oven and popped them on our dinner table a few weeks ago. And I couldn’t blame them. I may have sneaked another one as I was putting the leftovers in a ziplock bag and sticking them in the freezer. I love freezing my bread because it keeps it fresh and I don’t have to see it staring me in the face, begging me to just have one more pinch!

Smooth, Light and Slathered with Melted Butter

The dough for these rolls is very smooth and light. It may take a little longer to rise because it is often made with cold sourdough discard directly from the fridge, but don’t let that stop you from trying out this recipe. Once they are baked, these rolls are slathered with melted butter. I like to take my cold stick of butter and gently run it over the top of the hot rolls. This saves me from having to wash my pastry brush and an extra bowl (can you tell I’m all about saving on the dishes around here?!).

However you choose to eat these rolls: with your dinner, for breakfast with some jam and butter spread on top or as a mini turkey sandwich for lunch, you will love them. I hope you give them a try!

Sourdough Discard Soft White Rolls

Tender, light, fluffy and filled with sourdough discard, these soft white rolls are perfect for dinnertime!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Rise Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 16 rolls

Ingredients
  

  • 2/3 cup milk lightly warmed
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sourdough discard about 8 oz
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour about 12.5 oz

Instructions
 

  • To a stand mixer (or a bowl if you are kneading by hand), mix together the yeast, sugar and warm milk. Let it sit for a minute and use your nose to see if the yeast is working (It will smell very "yeasty" once the sugar and warm milk are mixed in. Technically using instant yeast you can omit this "proofing" step and throw the yeast in the with the flour, but I like to double check that my yeast is working so I do it anyway).
  • Add the room temperature melted butter. Make sure it is not too hot so it doesn’t kill the yeast. 
  • Add the sourdough discard, salt and cornstarch. Begin mixing with your dough hook as you add in the flour a cup at a time. Reserve the half cup of flour to mix in toward the end as you look for readiness of the dough. If the dough is pulling away from the sides, you may not need to add more flour. If the dough is still very sticky, add a little more flour until it is tacky, pulls away from the sides and rolls up into a ball in your fingers (a little stickiness is okay!). This post may help you to check for readiness of dough.
  • Knead the dough for about 5 minutes in the stand mixer or 7-10 minutes by hand. I like to set a timer and let the dough hook or mixer do the work for 5 minutes or so.
  • Add a drop of oil to a bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and place into the bowl. Roll the ball around until it is completely covered in the oil. (The oil keeps the dough moist as it rises and makes it easier to handle once risen). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size. If your sourdough discard is cold, it may take longer for the dough to rise. You may want to turn your oven light on and let the dough rise covered in the oven (just make sure not to turn the actual oven on during this process).
  • Cover the bottom of two 8 or 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Alternatively, prepare a half sheet pan (affiliate link for my favorite pans) with parchment paper.
  •  After the first rise, turn the dough out onto the counter and punch it down. Using a bench scraper or a knife, separate the dough into 16 equally-sized pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball and place eight dough balls into each pan, for a total of 16 rolls. If you are baking on a half sheet pan, place all the rolls on the same pan. Cover and let rise again in a warm place for about an hour until just about doubled in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 22-25 minutes until lightly browned on top. Cover the tops with melted butter (I take a stick of cold butter and lightly touch it on the tops of all the rolls). Enjoy warm or freeze for later!
Keyword dinner roll

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Sourdough Discard: Crispy Crackers

When I started my sourdough journey many years ago, I initially thought, “What do I do with all this waste?” I felt like I was constantly feeding and then throwing out a lot of the discard every day. I didn’t realize at the time that discard is actually pretty amazing in its own right and can be used in a variety of recipes. This is especially nice right now when we are doing our best to use up every little bit of flour we can.

I keep my discard in a Tupperware in my fridge. Remember to stir it before using it.

I keep one (sometimes two) Tupperware in my fridge and every time I feed my sourdough starter I “discard” about 80 percent of it into my Tupperware. If I’m feeding my starter once a week and keeping it in the fridge I don’t end up with very much discard. If I’m feeding my starter daily, the discard really piles up and I have plenty to use in special “discard” recipes. 

I’ve been experimenting with different recipes for “discard” crackers for the past month and this recipe turned out even better than I anticipated. When I set them out for my family to try all of my kids said, “Mom, these are AMAZING!” And that is high praise coming from some pretty picky eight-year-olds. The wonderful thing about this recipe is how adaptable it is to what you have in your pantry. You can add in your favorite herbs or choose to sweeten them up with a little cinnamon and sugar. We like them with our favorite cheese baked in too. These crackers are thin, crispy, light and have the perfect tang that sets these apart from your regular crackers.

So I’m here to tell you don’t throw away that discard! This recipe is so simple, so delicious and can be made today. You will want to keep a sourdough starter going just so you can make these crackers…they are that good! My kids devoured them.

Yield: 1 half sheet pan of crackers

Time: 10 minute mix, 40 minute bake

Ingredients: Pick one of the recipes below

Herb Seasoned Discard Crackers

  • ½ cup sourdough discard (about 135 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour (about 25 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons (about 25 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon “everything but the Bagel” seasoning (or dried herbs)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Cinnamon Sugar Discard Crackers

  • ½ cup sourdough discard (about 135 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour (about 25 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons (about 25 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar, plus another 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling on top
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Cheesy Discard Crackers

  • ½ cup sourdough discard (about 135 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour (about 25 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons (about 25 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Asiago cheese (or other hard, strong-flavored cheese)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Front to back: Herb seasoned, Asiago, Cinnamon Sugar crackers

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and line a half sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Stir down your sourdough discard (if there is any “hooch” on the top, pour it off). 
  3. In a small bowl stir together 135 grams sourdough discard, 2 Tablespoons of flour and 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. 
  4. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and your seasoning of choice. Mix together with a spatula. The dough will resemble a thick batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the middle of the parchment paper. Using an offset spatula or a butter knife, spread the batter very evenly and thinly to cover the parchment paper.
  6. If you are making the cinnamon-sugar crackers sprinkle the top with 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 300 degrees. Check your crackers around the 30 minute mark to make sure they are not getting too brown. Oven temperatures do vary, so your crackers may need a little less or a little more time. I find 40 minutes to be perfect in my oven.
  8. Let the crackers cool for 10 minutes and then break into pieces. If you want them a little more flavorful, sprinkle a little extra salt on top. Enjoy! If you have any leftovers, store in an airtight container for a few days.

Recipe Notes: If you use salted butter, leave out the salt in the recipe. We love the “Everything But the Bagel Seasoning” in place of dried herbs in the Herb Seasoned Discard Crackers. If you want to “cut” the crackers into squares, pull the pan out after 10 minutes of baking. Use a pizza cutter to cut into shapes and then continue baking. 

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No Knead, Rustic Sourdough

I am the type of person who likes to do things really, really well the first time. I always want the best of the best and I like to “shoot for the stars.” This can be a good quality but it also has its downsides. Sometimes I won’t try if I don’t think I can do it well enough. Sometimes I bypass the “easy” and “beginner” recipes for the more complicated ones and miss out on some really great bread, like this no knead, rustic sourdough.

Jump to No Knead, Rustic Sourdough Recipe

Perfect Beginner Sourdough Bread

No knead, rustic sourdough is the perfect beginner recipe for a delicious loaf of crusty sourdough bread. It will produce an addictive, crunchy crust and a yummy middle. It doesn’t take much active time, just a lot of “hands off” time and you can have a delicious loaf of bread with no commercial yeast. This bread is no-knead and even the newest bakers can make it and treat their families and loved ones to some of the best bread right out of your home oven. Basically, it’s the perfect starter recipe. In some ways I wish I had learned to make this recipe when I first learned about sourdough because it would have been helpful to understand some basics before trying to wrap my mind around “more advanced” techniques. I also love how simple this bread is and that you can keep the dough in your fridge for up to two days before baking. Fresh-baked bread on demand?! Sign me up! If you are new to sourdough, this recipe is for you!

Sourdough Basics

If you are a sourdough beginner, it’s important to understand a couple basics. People will often use different terms when talking about the rising agent in sourdough. You will see recipes on the internet or in cookbooks that talk about starter and leaven (levain in French). The makeup of these is basically the same…flour, water and natural yeast/bacteria. The purpose of them is different. 

Sourdough Leaven Explained

A sourdough starter can be thought of as the “mother” (maybe you have heard of the term “mother yeast?). You keep the “mother” at the same level, re-feeding it weekly by getting rid of the discard and adding flour and water to the “mother” starter. Anytime you want to make bread, you take a portion of the “mother” and create leaven with it (the offspring of the mother). The leaven is the yeast that is actually used in the bread. It is an offshoot of the “mother yeast.” The process of building the leaven looks the same as the starter. Take a small amount of the sourdough starter (“mother”), add flour and water as dictated by the recipe and allow it to rise and ferment over the course of a few hours or overnight. This is a new leaven. The leaven is what you will use when you make your loaf of bread.

Said another way, your leaven is “built” using a small portion of your starter. In all my sourdough recipes, I keep my “mother” starter separate from my leaven. I always build a leaven (using the starter) for the recipe. Clear as mud?! You can also look at few of my other sourdough posts for more information on working with sourdough.

Making the Bread

I like to mix my leaven the night before I plan to make the bread. I let my leaven sit out, covered, on the counter overnight and then it is ready to use in the morning to mix the bread dough. After mixing the dough, you will spend the day doing a series of stretch and folds and letting the sourdough work in the dough to create air and gas bubbles. In the recipe notes I have an option to bake the bread the same day as you are developing the dough. This works but the flavor will be better if you can put it in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours. To watch the recipe start to finish on IGTV click here.

Dutch Oven

One more important note about this recipe and about artisan sourdough bread is that you will need a dutch oven. A dutch oven helps trap the steam which gives your loaf of bread a beautiful “oven spring” and rise. If you don’t have a dutch oven or a bread and potato pot (my new favorite, affiliate link) and want to bake sourdough, you can try using a pizza stone (affiliate link). The pizza stone may not give quite the same results, but they should be good if you follow these steps: Throw in a few handfuls of ice cubes at the bottom of your oven right before you close the oven door to bake your loaf. This will generate some steam and give you some crust and rise. I do highly recommend investing in a dutch oven if you can and are planning to  make this bread. It is worth it. The caramelized crust and delicious flavor with a hint of sourdough are perfect when paired with some soft butter or a dollop of jam.

No Knead, Rustic Sourdough

The perfect no knead, rustic sourdough bread for beginners! This recipe will produce a crunchy crust, yummy middle and it does all the work itself in this relatively hands-off sourdough made with no commercial yeast. It's the perfect starter recipe if you are new to sourdough.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Resting/Rising Time 23 hrs
Course Bread, Sourdough
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients
  

Leaven (8 hour rise)

  • 50 grams ripe sourdough starter
  • 200 grams water, room temperature about 3/4 cup (plus 2 Tablespoons)
  • 200 grams all purpose flour about 1 1/3 cups

Dough (8-36 hour rise)

  • 230 grams leaven about 1 cup
  • 400 grams water, room temperature about 1 3/4 cups
  • 600 grams bread flour or all purpose (see recipe note) about 4 1/2 cups
  • 12 grams salt about 2 teaspoons

Instructions
 

Build the Leaven

  • To a bowl or large jar add 50 grams of starter, 200 grams of water and 200 grams of flour. Mix together. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 5-8 hours until the mixture has doubled in size (this will take longer in a cold kitchen and speed up in a warm environment).
  • Once the leaven has doubled in size it is ready to use. At this point you can do the float test to see if it is ready to use. Drop a small piece of the leaven in a glass of water. If it floats, it is ready. If not, leave it to sit a little longer. If you decided to mix your leaven the night before, let it sit out covered on the counter overnight. In this case you don't need to worry about the float test.

Sourdough Bread

  • Mix 230 grams of ripe leaven (you will have some leftover), room temperature water, flour and salt in a bowl using a wooden spoon or dough whisk (affiliate link). The dough will look “shaggy” but will come together. 
  • Cover the bowl and let it sit for an hour. After an hour, uncover the bowl and do a series of three "fold-and-turns". To do this, pick up the underside of the dough and fold it on top of itself, turning the bowl after each fold and picking up a different section of the dough to fold and turn. An example of this folding technique is found here (halfway through the video).
  • Cover the bowl again and let it rest for another hour. Notice how the dough is coming together. It doesn’t feel shaggy anymore and is becoming more stretchy and cohesive. For the second time, do the series of three folds.
  • Cover the bowl again and let it rest for its third and final hour. Repeat the series of three folds.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and put it in the refrigerator to rest overnight. The dough can stay in the refrigerator for 8 to 48 hours. See recipe notes for instructions on baking the same day.
  • The next morning (or whenever you are ready to bake your bread), put a dutch oven (affiliate link and see recipe notes for more options) into your oven with the lid on and set the oven to 500 degrees. Preheat the dutch oven by leaving it in the oven for 50 minutes.
  • Immediately after setting the dutch oven to preheat, pull out a piece of parchment paper. Take your dough out of the fridge and shape into a round ball. Do not punch down the dough, just lightly form with the palms of your hands. It should be fairly easy to work with because it is cold. 
  • When your dutch oven has preheated for 50 minutes, score the top of your bread with a bread lame (affiliate link), sharp knife or razor.
  • Take the dutch oven out of the oven. Warning: This is a VERY HOT dutch oven. Keep those oven mitts on and be very careful not to burn yourself. Take the top off the dutch oven and place the dough and parchment paper into the dutch oven. Place the top back on the dutch oven and close the oven door.
  • Immediately decrease the baking time to 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.
  • After 25 minutes, take the top off the dutch oven and continue baking for 20 more minutes. This will produce the crisp crust you are looking for.
  • Pull your bread out of the oven. Wait (if you can) to cut into it until your bread has cooled. Enjoy!

Notes

Bread Flour: If you don’t have bread flour on hand, you can substitute all purpose flour and vital wheat gluten. Use 600 grams of all purpose flour and add a Tablespoon vital wheat gluten. 
Instructions for Baking without Refrigerating the Dough: The sourdough flavor comes through the most and is more complex the longer you refrigerate the dough. If you want to bake the bread immediately without refrigerating, once you finish your series of stretch and folds, let the dough rest in the container a couple of hours to rise. Once it is puffed up and doubled in size, preheat the oven and pot. Gently shape the dough into a round ball, doing your best not to deflate the dough. Cover and let sit for another hour while the oven preheats. Then score and bake according to the recipe.
Dutch Oven: This is the dutch oven I have used for many years. I recently purchased this bread and potato pot and love the bake I get with it. If you don’t have a dutch oven you can also heat a pizza stone to 500 degrees. Once the pizza stone is pre-heated, throw a handful of ice cubes into the hot oven and place the bread on the pizza stone. This will mimic a dutch-oven bake.
Keyword beginner sourdough, easy sourdough, sourdough

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Sourdough Series: Maintaining Your Starter

Okay, so you’ve made or acquired a sourdough starter. “Now what?! Do I really have to keep feeding it forever??!! What do I do with it now? Help!!” These are thoughts that many of us have when we are new to baking with sourdough. I hope to set your mind at ease and answer a few sourdough starter questions for a sourdough “newbie.”

Feeding Your Starter

If you keep feeding your starter at the same time every day, it will be active, happy and ready to bake when you are. The proportion I like best is:

  • 30 grams starter
  • 100 grams flour (you can use all purpose, or a 50/50 blend of whole wheat and white – it’s your personal preference, but it is best to include at least some white flour in the blend)
  • 100 grams water, room temperature
A happy, active starter that is regularly doubling in size

Start by stirring it down. Usually by the time 24 hours is up and my starter is ready to be fed, it looks a little more runny than it does right after feeding. This is because the bacteria/yeast is hungry again and wants to feed on fresh flour. Discard all but 30 grams of your starter. To the 30 grams, add 100 grams of water and 100 grams of flour. If you do not have a kitchen scale, do yourself a favor and get one now. Almost all sourdough recipes use the metric system to measure all the ingredients, so a scale that can display metric units is ideal. If you don’t have one yet, you can take about 2-3 Tablespoons of starter and add 1 cup of flour and ½ cup water to the starter for feeding. 

Mark the top level of your starter (I use a rubber band to do this) and then watch as it rises throughout the day and falls. Feed it again 24 hours later. Choose a time when you are reasonably confident you will be able to feed your starter daily. I like feeding it either in the morning or the evening, pick whatever works best for you. If you are off by a couple of hours, it’s okay. Just feed the starter when you can.

I like to feed my starter every 24 hours because it fits better into the rhythm of my life. There are times when you may want to increase the daily feedings to two or three times a day, for example if you are trying to revive a starter or want to bake a lot of sourdough bread in a day. If you feed your starter twice a day (once in the morning and once at night), your starter will become more active and learn to rise and fall every 12 hours, doubling or tripling in size while rising. If you feed your starter 3 times a day (every 6-8 hours) it will be even more active.

But, Amy”, you say…“Do I really have to feed this starter daily for the rest of my life??!!” The answer is, “No!” One of the beautiful things about modern technology and baking is that we can use the refrigerator to our advantage. 

Refrigerating Starter

Refrigerating sourdough starter significantly slows down the fermentation process, which means you only have to feed it weekly. This is really nice for a home-baker who doesn’t make sourdough bread every day. You may only want to make bread once every week or two or even once a month. Many home-bakers who keep sourdough in their fridge keep it in a crock in the back of their fridge. Others use a covered mason jar or small tupperware. It doesn’t really matter what you use. What matters is that you continue feeding your starter regularly – once a week. 

When you are doing a maintenance feed to a refrigerated starter, pull it out of the fridge. Often the starter will have some liquid on the top that smells strong. This is called “hooch.” You can stir that back in to your starter if you want a strong-tasting sourdough. Alternatively (and what I recommend) is to get rid of the hooch by pouring it into the sink (when the starter has been kept refrigerated, the hooch should easily pour off while the starter will remain in the container). Once the hooch is poured off, stir down your starter. In your jar mix the following (the proportion is the same as above):

  • 30 grams of the stirred down starter (discard the rest of the starter)
  • 100 grams water, room temperature
  • 100 grams flour

Cover your starter and let it sit on the counter for 1-4 hours. Then put it back in the fridge for another week or until you are ready to use it. If you continue this process feeding it weekly, you will always have the key to sourdough bread at your fingertips. You can watch this process here.

When you want to bake with a refrigerated starter, pull your starter out of the fridge a day or two before you need to mix your leaven. Feed your starter twice that day (once in the morning and once in the evening). This will help revive your starter and re-activate the yeast back to its robust self. If you don’t do this your bread may not rise as well.

If you end up forgetting about your starter in the back of the fridge for awhile, don’t panic. Lift the lid and check it out. It may be possible to revive your starter. Pull back any dark discard/skin and look at the starter underneath it. Get rid of the gray/dark colored part and use the starter at the bottom (that is not discolored) to feed and try to revive. You may want to feed it two or three times a day to try and revive a starter that has been sitting in the fridge for a month or two without feeding.

Discard: The nitty gritty

What’s the deal with the discard? Discard is actually a pretty beautiful by-product of sourdough. It is the part of the starter that you don’t feed and that you can throw away, but I wouldn’t. Once you have a strong, active and healthy sourdough starter, the “discard” or the part of the starter that you get rid of every time you feed the starter can be stored in the refrigerator. I keep a tupperware in my fridge specifically for my sourdough discard. Every time I go to feed my starter, I take out the 30 grams I need to feed. Then I pour all of my unused starter into my discard tupperware and put it back in the fridge. I continue adding discard to this same tupperware throughout my week of baking with sourdough.

Store your discard in the fridge

I use the discard to bake with. Typically discard is used in a specific “discard recipe.” You can “google” discard recipes or check out some that I have on my blog. Discard is often found in recipes for pancakes, waffles, muffins, scones, white bread, biscuits, banana bread, homemade pasta, etc… Sourdough discard enhances the flavor of recipes. It does not act as the rising agent in the recipes but instead adds some acidity and can keep your baked goods very tender. So don’t throw away your discard. Keep it in your fridge and bake with it. I feel comfortable using my discard for up to about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Time to Make Bread

So now that my starter is active and I’m feeding it regularly, how do I actually use it in a recipe? That’s a great question and it kind of depends on the recipe itself. Typically you want to choose a recipe that is written for sourdough bread and starter. These recipes are formulated to the measurements needed for leaven instead of commercial yeast. I wouldn’t take a recipe for commercial yeast and sub in leaven…it most likely won’t work well. Almost every sourdough recipe is going to have you build a leaven before making the actual bread. This is an extra step that you wouldn’t necessarily take when baking with commercial yeast. 

To build your leaven you usually take a small amount of your sourdough starter and add flour and water to it in a separate bowl. The required amounts depend on the recipe. Often you will mix your leaven the night before you mix your bread. Sometimes you can mix your leaven the day of (it depends on the recipe). The leaven is kept separate from your starter, even though the process of creating leaven is very similar to feeding starter.

After you have mixed your leaven you will need to wait until it is ready to use for your recipe. To test for the readiness of your leaven you can perform the float test. The float test tells you if there is enough carbon dioxide to raise bread. Usually your leaven will pass the float test when it reaches its peak height (doubled in size).

Float test: Fill a clear cup with some room temperature water. Take a little drop of your leaven and plop it in the cup. If it floats, you are ready to proceed with the recipe. If it sinks, give it a bit more time and test again in another hour. However, leaven that has risen too much will not float. You can still use this leaven, but your bread may end up with more “sour” notes (not necessarily bad). You can watch an example of the float test here.

After your leaven passes the float test, you are ready to mix the dough for your sourdough bread. 

This beauty is worth the wait!

Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

Basic Country White Bread (the crispy crust sourdough bread that dreams are made of)

Sourdough Sandwich Bread (soft, white sandwich bread that has a beautiful flavor and crumb)

I hope that this was a helpful introduction to maintaining a sourdough starter. You can do this! If you can’t find commercial yeast right now, you can still make your own home-made bread. Make your own sourdough starter using my guide, or find someone who will share some of theirs with you. If you are local to Kentucky, I’m happy to give you some 🙂

One more note: Sourdough will take longer to rise than traditional commercial yeast. This is normal. Be prepared for long rise times with the reward of delicious bread.

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