These sourdough apple muffins were requested by a reader who asked for an apple muffin recipe packed with apples. Because fruit is an afterthought in too many recipes.
Not true for these sourdough discard muffins, with over one cup of apple in eight muffins. And, as a bonus, they are quick and easy, coming together in under 30 minutes.
Key technique: baking ratios
The base of this sourdough discard muffin recipe is from Michael Ruhlman’s ratios. According to Ruhlman, the standard formula for muffins and quick breads should be 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part butter by weight. The only trick is to account for the flour and liquid in the sourdough discard.
Key ingredient: sourdough discard
Sourdough discard is what you are left with after you feed a sourdough starter. Instead of throwing it away, you can use sourdough discard in any recipe that has flour and liquid like water, milk, or buttermilk. The discard will give it a slightly sour or tangy taste, which is particularly great in recipes with buttermilk. You just need to calculate the amount of flour and water in your starter and reduce the amount of flour and liquid in your recipe by that amount.
You can obviously use your sourdough discard for flavor when making yeast breads, like in this sourdough discard bread. But there are lots of other ways to use sourdough discard including this sourdough apple cake.
Tips and tricks
Baking with apples
The best apple for these sourdough muffins is one that remains firm when cooked and has a strong apple flavor. Using a tart apple like a Granny Smith or Pink Lady will increase the tang even more.
Disclosure: I was recently given two boxes of HunnyZ apples by the folks at Gee Whiz after I wrote a post about late season apples. The HunnyZ (pronounced “hunnies”) is a cross between a Honeycrisp and Crimson Crisp apple.
Step by step
Brown butter adds a deeper, caramel and nutty flavor to your baking. If you prefer, you can just melt the butter and stop before the browning stage.
Muffins are typically made using the “muffin method.” Using this method, you first whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl. You then combine the buttermilk, brown butter, egg, and vanilla in a large measuring cup and add them to the dry ingredients.
Like with other muffins, waffles, and pancakes, mix only until the dry ingredients are completely moistened. Then add the chopped apples and scoop into your prepared muffin tin.
Variations and substitutions
- Substitute yogurt, milk, or an unsweetened non-dairy milk for the buttermilk.
- Decorate your muffins by adding coarse decorating sugar to the top about 10 minutes into baking. Or make a glaze with a cup of confectioners’ sugar, teaspoon of cinnamon, and a tablespoon or two of buttermilk, cream, or milk.
No, you don’t have to do anything, but you will get more consistent results if you weigh your ingredients, especially for baking. Plus you dirty fewer measuring cups!
A 100% hydration starter is equal amounts of water and flour. If you don’t have a starter, just add an additional 2 ounces (57 grams or one-third cup) of flour to the dry ingredients and an additional 2 ounces (one quarter cup) of buttermilk or other liquid.
Yes, you’ll need to calculate the amount of water and flour in your starter. And add flour and liquid to get to 4 ounces of each.
You should always make muffins, pancakes, and waffles soon after you make the batter. It’s always better to bake muffins and then freeze them if you want to make them in advance.
Yes! Muffins freeze well. Put cooled muffins into a freezer bag and remove all of the air. You can let them warm at room temperature, or pop them in a warm oven to defrost.
Sourdough Discard Apple Muffins
- butter for greasing or muffin liners
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (57 grams) bleached all purpose flour
- ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon (57grams) granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 ounces (113 grams) 100% hydration sourdough discard
- ¼ cup (2 ounces) buttermilk, shaken
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 medium apple, cored, peeled, and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Butter eight cups in a twelve-cup muffin tin or line it with muffin liners.butter for greasing or muffin liners
- Brown the butter by melting and cooking it over a medium-low heat until it starts to leave brown bits at the bottom of the pan, swirling or stirring occasionally. This is right about when the bubbling sounds stop. Let cool slightly.4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda) in a medium-large bowl.½ cup (57 grams) bleached all purpose flour, ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon (57grams) granulated sugar, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Combine the sourdough starter, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add the cooled butter, and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients.4 ounces (113 grams) 100% hydration sourdough discard, ¼ cup (2 ounces) buttermilk, shaken, 1 egg, slightly beaten, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Stir just enough to wet the dry ingredients, and then add the apple and mix to stir.1 medium apple, cored, peeled, and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
- Use a large cookie scoop or large spoon to fill the muffin cups about two-thirds of the way full.
- Bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
This recipe was first published May 27, 2021. It was last updated September 16, 2022.
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