Sourdough Starter Discard Sugar Cookies

Tender sugar cookies are the perfect bake whenever you’re within the temper for a deal with, however not serious about a undertaking that takes all day (or an additional grocery store). These sourdough starter discard sugar cookies keep on with a easy elements record, with an added bonus for many who hold a sourdough starter: They use almost a full cup of starter discard.

I can say with confidence it’s almost inconceivable to eat only one.

By omitting—and eradicating—a few of the flour and water that might naturally happen in a normal gentle sugar cookie recipe, there’s room to stir in sourdough discard. And as anybody who commonly feeds their starter is aware of, our cups (and jars and containers) usually runneth over with discard. The result’s a pillowy-soft, subtly tangy cookie with a touch of nuttiness. I can say with confidence it’s almost inconceivable to eat only one.

Portioning out sourdough starter discard sugar cookie dough.Portioning out sourdough starter discard sugar cookie dough.
Portioning out sourdough starter discard sugar cookie dough. Photograph by Rebecca Firkser.

In contrast to many sourdough recipes, these cookies don’t depend on discard for carry, which might take hours. And in contrast to many cookie recipes, this dough doesn’t must relaxation within the fridge in a single day. This implies the dough comes collectively in about half-hour, and then you definately’re able to bake. In truth, with such a minimal record of elements, most house bakers needs to be ready to place collectively a batch proper now. This simply would possibly develop into your new favourite sourdough discard and sugar cookie recipe.

The Perfect Loaf Sourdough Starter IllustrationThe Perfect Loaf Sourdough Starter Illustration
Michael Hoeweler

Use Unfed Starter Discard

Since this recipe additionally requires a chemical leavener (baking powder), there’s no want to make use of ripe, just lately fed sourdough starter to provide the cookies carry. As a result of it’s actually simply changing a few of the recipe’s water and flour, unfed sourdough starter discard (chilly from the fridge or at room temperature) works completely. 

To Take away Extra Water, Use Brown Butter and Egg Yolks

To make room for sourdough starter discard (which, we all know is fermented flour and water in equal components by weight) on this recipe, extra flour and water wanted to be omitted from the opposite elements. I began out with a tough sketch of sugar cookie elements: butter, egg, sugar, flour, salt, chemical leavener. Changing a part of the flour within the recipe with starter discard is simple sufficient: I’d merely subtract half the quantity (by weight) of starter used within the recipe from any extra flour I deliberate so as to add. To determine precisely how a lot that might be, I first wanted to see how a lot water I may change.

Eradicating water to switch with discard proves extra difficult, as sugar cookie recipes don’t have a tendency to incorporate pure water. However a detailed have a look at the elements record truly reveals fairly a little bit of water, it’s simply hiding. Most American-style meals-details/789828/vitamins” goal=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>butter is about 80% fats and 20% water. Melting, after which slowly browning, butter permits for a lot of that water to evaporate, leaving room so as to add that liquid again in through starter discard—as an added bonus, you’ll additionally impart a stunning nutty taste attributable to all these toasted milk solids. To include as a lot starter as I may this manner, I made a decision to construct the recipe round 2 sticks (226 grams; 1 cup) of butter. By browning this quantity of butter over medium warmth for about 10 minutes, I may take away that 20% (or 45 grams) of water whereas leaving all the mandatory fats. That meant I may add 90 grams of starter (45 grams every water and flour) to my dough. 

Rolling sourdough starter discard sugar cookie dough in granulated sugar.Rolling sourdough starter discard sugar cookie dough in granulated sugar.
Rolling sourdough starter discard sugar cookie dough in granulated sugar. Photograph by Rebecca Firkser.

Eggs additionally current the chance to take away water from batter, as they’re about 75% water (whites are about 90% water and 10% protein; yolks are about 50% water, 30% fats, and 20% protein). Eggs assist cookie dough correctly bind collectively, in addition to help with aeration and unfold, so I clearly didn’t wish to omit them utterly: Since yolks supply fats, which I needed to protect within the recipe, I made a decision to omit solely whites. 

In cookie dough, egg whites’ water helps type steam throughout baking, making a puffy, cakey cookie. It’s the most straightforward to take away the white fully versus weighing out 90% of 1, so the absence of 1 35-gram giant egg white meant I may add one other 70 grams of starter discard (35 grams every water and flour) to the dough. After testing a couple of occasions with only one egg yolk and some ratios of flour and chemical leavener, leading to exceptionally cakey cookies, I made the choice so as to add a further yolk to assist add fudginess (a trick I’ve usually turned to when baking chocolate chip cookies), however not add any extra starter to imitate one other full egg’s price of water.

90 grams’ price of starter from the butter and 70 grams’ price from egg white meant I’d add a complete of 160 grams of starter to the dough. (It additionally meant I may take away 80 grams’ price of extra flour from the recipe.)

The Finest Flour For Sourdough Sugar Cookies

The fantastic thing about these cookies is their simplicity, so a normal grocery store’s all-purpose flour is the only option for these cookies. I developed and examined these cookies with King Arthur Baking Firm’s unbleached all-purpose and Gold Medal bleached all-purpose (which can be enriched and pre-sifted), considered one of which needs to be out there at most supermarkets. No matter which flours you employ to feed your starter, I like to recommend a no-frills all-purpose for the cookie recipe. For what it’s price, these days, I’ve been feeding my starter as Maurizio recommends, with 20 grams carryover starter, 30 grams rye flour and 70 grams all-purpose (and 100 grams water).

Half eaten sourdough starter discard sugar cookie.Half eaten sourdough starter discard sugar cookie.
Tender, candy, and a contact of nuttiness from the added browned butter. Photograph by Rebecca Firkser.

The Finest Butter For Sourdough Sugar Cookies 

As talked about earlier, American-style butter is about 80% fats and 20% water. European-style butter may be wherever from 82% to 90% fats (18% and 10% water, respectively); you could possibly use both for the recipe so long as you hit the right weight of remaining butter after browning, however I developed and examined this with American-style butter, in order that’s what I’d advocate. (Although both will work!)

Instruments For the Finest Sourdough Sugar Cookies

The fantastic thing about this cookie recipe is it requires no particular gear. No hand or stand mixer, no particular baking pan or cookie cutter. You’ll want a small skillet or saucepan to brown the butter, giant and medium bowls for the batter, and 1 or 2 normal half sheet pans for baking. When you can actually weigh or measure out every cookie earlier than rolling right into a ball, I do advocate a #40 (2-tablespoon) cookie scoop to make sure they’re uniform in measurement.

Sourdough Starter Discard Sugar Cookies Recipe


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The platonic very best gentle sugar cookie, made with a small portion of sourdough starter discard.

  • 226 grams (1 cup, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, reduce into 1-inch items
  • 330 grams (2 ⅔ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 6 grams (1 ½ teaspoons) baking powder
  • 4 grams (1 ½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal or ¾ teaspoon Morton) kosher salt
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) gentle brown sugar
  • 28 grams (2 giant) egg yolks, chilly from the fridge
  • 9 grams (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 160 grams (scant ¾ cup) sourdough starter discard (unfed, 100% hydration), ideally chilly from the fridge

  1. Place the butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium warmth. Soften the butter till it begins to foam and sputter, 3-5 minutes. Whisking usually, proceed to cook dinner the butter till it begins to cool down, smells nutty, and turns deeply golden brown, 7-10 minutes. As you whisk, attempt to carry any browning milk solids which can be caught to the pot. Take away from the warmth and instantly pour into a big heatsafe bowl positioned over a digital scale, ensuring to scrape in as many browned bits caught to the pan as attainable. It’s best to have about 180-190 grams butter remaining. Let the butter cool barely, about 5 minutes, whilst you prep the dry elements.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk collectively the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. When the butter has cooled barely, add the sugars and use a whisk to beat till well-combined, about 1 minute (the sugar received’t dissolve utterly and should look separated). Beat within the egg yolk and vanilla till well-combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat within the discard till simply mixed, about 30 seconds (the dough needs to be emulsified now). Scrape down the bowl and fold within the flour combination till simply mixed. Let the dough relaxation for 10 minutes.
  4. Whereas the dough rests, preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC) with a rack within the heart, and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  5. Fill a small bowl with extra granulated sugar. Use a #40 (2-tablespoon) cookie scoop to portion out 12 mounds of dough (every ought to weigh about 30 grams) onto one of many sheet pans. Roll every mound right into a ball after which place within the bowl of granulated sugar and toss to coat.
  6. Evenly divide the 12 cookie balls on one ready sheet pan, leaving about 2 inches of area between every ball. Bake the cookies, rotating the sheet pan from again to entrance midway by baking, till the cookies are golden on the edges and simply set within the heart, 13-16 minutes. Whereas the primary batch is baking, scoop, roll out, and sugar the subsequent batch and organize on the second sheet pan.
  7. Pop the second tray of cookies into the oven. Let the primary batch of baked cookies cool on the sheet pan for five minutes earlier than eradicating to a wire rack to chill utterly. Scoop, roll, and sugar the remaining dough. When the second tray of cookies comes out of the oven, bake off the third tray of cookies (reuse the sheet pan and parchment from the primary batch).
  8. Let the cookies cool utterly, then retailer in hermetic containers at room temperature for as much as 1 week, or freeze for as much as 3 months.

Key phrases: Sourdough discard, Starter, Cookies, Butter, Flour, Egg

Sourdough Starter Discard Cookies FAQs

Can I exploit a sourdough starter discard from the fridge? 

Sure! In truth, chilly starter discard will in the end assist chill down the batter, which begins on the hotter facet on account of the melted butter. I examined with discard that had been refrigerated for 12 hours or extra, and with some that had simply been discarded (and was due to this fact unrefrigerated); however at all times discovered the dough barely simpler to emulsify and roll when the starter was added chilly. Usually I used one which was a couple of days outdated; however in some batches of cookies I used a discard that had been unattended within the fridge for upwards of two weeks.

Can I exploit a vegan butter right here?

Vegan butters do comprise water, however not essentially the identical ~20% as American-style dairy butter; and additional, many don’t comprise fatty elements that brown the identical approach. I can’t say I like to recommend it (however if in case you have luck, let me know!). 

Do I’ve to let the dough relaxation for 10 minutes?

This temporary relaxation at room temperature helps the flour hydrate and permits the sugar to soak up some moisture, which retains these cookies gentle. In contrast to many cookie dough recipes that use melted butter, which want at the least a pair hours’ (if not in a single day) relaxation within the fridge, this one wants simply 10 minutes. Don’t skip it!

Do I’ve to roll the cookie dough balls in sugar?

No, that’s technically an additional—however scrumptious!— remaining pre-bake step you’ll usually see in gentle cookie recipes like this. If you wish to save your self 5 minutes, skip it.

What’s Subsequent?

When you’ve got extra sourdough starter discard mendacity round after making these cookies, put it to good use in Ciabella, an Italian lemon cake. 
Or, see all of the sourdough starter discard recipes for extra inspiration.

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