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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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. 

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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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. 

This is the case with today’s 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!

This recipe is the perfect rustic sourdough bread for anyone looking to learn the simple basics of sourdough. 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. If you are new to sourdough, this recipe is for you! If you are looking for a more advanced recipe, I have my favorite one here.

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. 

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?! Comment if you have questions and I am happy to clarify.

The dutch oven I’ve used for 8 years still going strong

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 and want to try this anyway, you may not get the same results. However, you can try baking it on a pizza stone. 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.

To see the recipe start to finish on IGTV click here.

Yield: 1 loaf of rustic sourdough bread

Time: 5 minute mix, 8 hour rise, 10 minute mix, 15 hour rise, 10 minute shape, 40 minute bake This recipe only takes about 25 minutes active time. The rest is rising time.

Ingredients:

Leaven (mix the morning of or the night before)

  • 50 grams sourdough starter
  • 200 grams (about 1 cup) water
  • 200 grams (about 2 cups) flour, all purpose or bread flour

Dough

  • 230 grams leaven
  • 400 grams (1 ¾ cup) room temperature water
  • 600 grams (5 cups) flour, all purpose or bread flour 
  • 12 grams (2 teaspoons) of salt 

Instructions:

  1. In the morning mix your 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 a few hours until the mixture has doubled in size. 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.
  2. Mix 230 grams of ripe leaven (you will have some leftover), room temperature water, flour and salt in a bowl using a wooden spoon. The dough will look “shaggy” but will come together. 
  3. 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.
  4. Cover the bowl again and let it rest for another hour. Notice how the dough is coming together. It doesn’t feel shaggy anymore. For the second time, do the series of three folds.
  5. Cover the bowl again and let it rest for its third and final hour. Repeat the series of three folds.
  6. Now 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.
  7. The next morning (or whenever you are ready to bake your bread), put a dutch oven 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.
  8. 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. 
  9. When your dutch oven has preheated for 50 minutes, score the top of your bread with a bread lame, sharp knife or razor.
  10. 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.
  11. Immediately decrease the baking time to 450 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.
  12. After 20 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.
  13. Pull your bread out of the oven. Wait (if you can) to cut into it until your bread has cooled. Enjoy!

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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.

Please share this post if you enjoyed it. If you need help with your sourdough starter, send me a message on Facebook or Instagram.

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread or like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook for more baking fun with kids and delicious recipes.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Perfect sourdough sandwich bread

When I first started making sourdough bread, it never occurred to me to make a loaf of sourdough sandwich bread. I love the crusty artisan bread so much and I had a favorite white sandwich bread recipe already, so I never thought about looking for a soft sourdough sandwich bread. That all changed a few months ago.

During this coronavirus epidemic, yeast is proving difficult to find. I am looking for more and more recipes that don’t use very much yeast so I can conserve the amount of yeast I do have…considering we don’t know when this pandemic is going to end. This sourdough bread is perfect because it calls for such small amount of yeast and can even be made with no yeast at all, if you have a really strong sourdough starter (just leave the commercial yeast out completely)! 

With the amount of sourdough starter used in this recipe, the rise time will be a little longer than most commercially yeasted breads. That is the nature of sourdough and natural yeast. Just make sure that your bread rises a little bit above your loaf pans before popping them in the oven and you will be good to go.

The crumb of this white bread is absolutely delicious, tender and great for the perfect sandwich, cinnamon sugar toast or just to eat plain. My whole family loves this bread and even when this whole pandemic ends, it will be one of my go-to white bread recipes. The sourdough doesn’t give any “sour” flavor to the bread, it just enhances the tenderness and flavor. It is such a delicious bread that I am already scheming for when I can make my next loaf. If you have a sourdough starter you’ve been playing around with these last few weeks, this is definitely a recipe you will want to try and bookmark. It’s delicious!

The sourdough gives this loaf a beautiful crumb and flavor

Yield: 2 loaves of white sourdough sandwich bread

Time: Overnight build leaven, 20 minute mix/knead, 2 hour rise, 10 minute shape, 2 hour rise (using leaven as the main yeast in the recipe makes the dough rise a bit slower than commercial yeast)

Ingredients:

Leaven:

  • 50 grams sourdough starter
  • 150 grams white flour
  • 150 grams warm water 

Dough:

  • 340 grams water (1 ½ cups)
  • All of the ripe leaven
  • 50 grams of sugar (¼ cup)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt, 20 grams
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast, 10 grams
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil, 50 grams
  • 690 grams all purpose flour (about 4 ¾ cups)

Directions:

  1. The night before making the bread, mix the ingredients to form the leaven. 
  2. In the morning mix together the water, all of the ripe leaven, sugar, salt, instant yeast and vegetable oil. Add flour a cup at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. The dough will still be sticky but should form a ball easily. Knead for 5-10 minutes. This helps develop the gluten and elasticity in the dough.
  3. Put a drop of oil in a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise in a warm place. To encourage rising I will turn the light on in my oven (don’t turn the oven on) and place my covered dough inside the oven (not directly under the light). This acts as a “proofing” box and will keep the temperature warm for a quicker rise.
  4. After the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto the counter and cut in half. This recipe makes two loaves of bread. Shape the dough into a rectangle. You will be rolling the dough into a cylinder shape. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up the dough. Take care to press in the dough at the seam after each roll and pinch the seam closed at the end.
  5. Transfer the dough, seam side-down to a bread pan. I use an 8.5 by 4.5 bread pan. Repeat with the second loaf of bread.
  6. Allow the dough to rise again (1-2 hours), covered and in a warm place. The dough should just rise a little bit over the top of the bread pan (it will rise more in the oven). 
  7. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Top with melted butter if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes: This bread will work without the addition of the commercial yeast if you have a strong sourdough starter. It will take more time for the bread to rise (2-4 hours for each rise depending on the temperature of your kitchen), but if you have no commercial yeast (or can’t find any), you can still make a delicious loaf of white bread. Just leave the commercial yeast out and use the power of your strong sourdough starter to raise the bread.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Cinnamon Sugar Muffins Two Ways

When I first started this blog, I had every intention of sharing recipes about sourdough…eventually. I had planned to take it slow and introduce my love for all things sourdough gradually because while I love all things sourdough, it’s not very common for a home baker and I wasn’t sure how many people would be interested in that area of bread baking. 

My sourdough starter

Fast forward a few weeks and we were at the beginning of a global pandemic with yeast flying off the shelves and food shortages everywhere. All of a sudden people showed a lot more interest in sourdough baking. Most of us are at home looking for things to do and learning to become a little more self-reliant. With this in mind (and a cancelled trip that made it possible), I upped my sourdough game and started sharing about sourdough earlier than planned. I have tutorials on my Instagram about making a sourdough starter and I have a handy worksheet that can help you make your own starter if you are interested. I’ve also got an awesome recipe that turns out some delicious sourdough bread.

One of the things that makes sourdough unique is the feeding process. You feed your starter daily (or once a week or so if it’s refrigerated) and then end up with a bunch of discard. I keep my extra discard in a tupperware in the fridge and then find recipes to make with the discard throughout the week…waste not want not! This recipe for cinnamon sugar muffins is the perfect vehicle for the sourdough discard.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins…two ways: with or without sourdough discard

I also know that not everyone has a tupperware of sourdough discard sitting in your fridge and I didn’t want you to not be able to make these delicious muffins just because of that. I have a recipe option below for cinnamon sugar muffins without the sourdough discard. Both recipes use the same technique for the cinnamon sugar topping and are equally delicious and worth making. This recipe would be a fun treat to make with kids or the perfect treat for a family brunch or breakfast. The cinnamon sugar topping makes these muffins a standout weekly breakfast or sweet snack for a day at home.

Yield: 12-14 muffins

Time: 10 minute mix, 16 minute bake

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup milk, 2% or whole preferable
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon Sugar Sourdough Discard Muffins

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ⅔ cup milk, 2% or whole preferable
  • ¾ cup sourdough discard (150 grams)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The topping is the same for both recipes, don’t forget about it! It adds a sweet cinnamon crunch to the muffins that should not be left out.

Topping for both recipes

  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 4 Tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a small microwave-proof bowl, melt the butter. Add the white sugar and combine with a spoon. Mix in the milk, eggs and vanilla. If you are using sourdough discard, mix it in with the wet ingredients now.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon. Be careful not to overmix the batter. Your batter may still have small streaks of flour in it…that is okay. 
  5. Line and lightly grease 12-14 muffin tins. If you have extra muffin wells with no batter in them, fill them about ½  way full with water (this helps protect your pans and gives your muffins an even bake). 
  6. Bake for 6 minutes at 425 degrees, then decrease the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 10 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted in the muffin and it comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the topping. Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a bowl. Mix together ⅓ cup white sugar with 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon in a separate bowl. Dip the top of each muffin into the butter and then dip into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Continue this process until every muffin in coated in cinnamon/sugar. Enjoy warm or at room temperature! Tip: I freeze any extra muffins in a ziplock bag and they work great.

Recipe Notes: Baking your muffins at a high initial temperature and then decreasing to a lower temperature gives you the beautiful domed muffins that you look for in a bakery. It’s worth it…I promise!

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread or like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook for more baking ideas.

Southern Biscuits

My family hails from the West Coast of the United States. I grew up eating pancakes and waffles for Saturday morning breakfast and shopping at Costco for ALL.THE.THINGS. After I married and my husband changed jobs, we relocated to the Bluegrass. Kentucky is geographically part of the Midwest, but culturally it is more southern. Biscuits and gravy is a staple breakfast at every restaurant (or hotel chain). Local self-rising flour is purchased with a recipe for biscuits on the back of the package, and I don’t blame them – southern biscuits are delicious! They are also simple to make. This recipe is based on a recipe printed on the back of the bags of self-rising flour from our local mill. 

You only need 5 ingredients to turn out a delicious biscuit; three if you use self-rising flour. These biscuits make the perfect snack or a delicious side to any meal. They also make for a yummy breakfast smothered with chocolate gravy (yes it’s a thing!), sausage gravy or butter, honey and jam. 

I do think that buttermilk is essential to these biscuits. It gives the biscuit the tenderness you are looking for in the layers of flaky goodness. I always keep buttermilk on hand for recipes after years of trying the substitutes because it just turns out better using real buttermilk. If you want to try a substitute (they won’t be 100% the same), you can mix equal parts of sour cream with milk together and add a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let it sit in the fridge for 5 minutes before using.

However, if you are baking with sourdough and have sourdough discard on hand, you can replace the buttermilk with cold sourdough discard from your fridge. This makes for an insanely delicious biscuit with the subtle hint of sourdough. The sourdough has the same acidic properties of buttermilk, which enhances the tenderness and flavor of the biscuits. 

A few other tips for a light and fluffy biscuit:

If you want circle biscuits, don’t twist the cutter or it will seal off the edges and you won’t get the rise you’re looking for
  1. Keep your ingredients COLD: this is key. Some people keep their bowl in the fridge before working with their dough, others use frozen butter. I try to work quickly so my hands don’t warm up the butter too much. Cold butter creates the air pockets in the biscuits when they are baked quickly at high heat.
  2. The dough should be rolled thick (1- 1 ½ inches high )–be careful of rolling too thin.
  3. Use a biscuit cutter or bench knife (or sharp knife). Don’t twist the cutter when cutting the biscuits out (it seals off the layers and they won’t rise as well).
  4. Use a light hand–be careful not to over mix the dough. Biscuit dough is like pie crust in that way. You don’t want to activate the gluten in the dough.

Whatever you choose to make, if you follow these steps I am sure they will turn out delicious. So without further ado…amazing Southern Biscuits. I hope you love them as much as we do.

Ingredients:

Buttermilk Biscuits 

  • 2 cups of plain flour (pastry flour) or all-purpose flour 
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick, I prefer unsalted butter)
  • ¾ cup cold buttermilk
Roll your biscuits an inch to an inch and a half thick for tall biscuits

Alternatively you can try the sourdough biscuits with this recipe:

Sourdough Discard Biscuits

  • 2 cups of plain flour (pastry flour) or all-purpose flour 
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick, I prefer unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup cold sourdough discard

Note: If using self-rising flour, omit the salt and baking powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. 
  3. Using a pastry cutter or the holes on a box grater, cut in the butter with the flour. A pastry cutter is a very handy tool for this purpose. You want pea-sized pieces of butter throughout the flour mixture. If you freeze your butter it will grate easily into the mixture which is another great option. The colder you can keep the butter, the better.
  4. Make a well in the center of your flour mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk OR the cold sourdough starter and mix with a fork until it holds together.
  5. When the mixture is just combined, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and fold over two to three times. Pat into a square or circle. 
  6. Roll out to 1-1½ inches thick and use a bench knife to cut 12-15 rectangular biscuits. If you want circular biscuits, use a biscuit cutter dipped in flour. 
  7. Place the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. For soft-edged biscuits place them in the center of the pan touching each other. For crispy biscuits place them apart.
  8. Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter. Enjoy!

Recipe notes: You can use shortening in place of butter in the biscuits.

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