Make Sourdough Biscuits from Scratch
Since the pandemic started, I have been cooking with a sourdough starter and looking for ways to use the discard that I just can’t throw away. My niece recently posted a recipe for caramel apple bombs using canned biscuit dough and store-bought apple pie filling. They looked delicious, but I thought I could add more flavor by using sourdough biscuits.
I began looking at all the biscuit recipes I could find in my cookbooks and online. They all were basically the same. I wanted to use the sourdough starter to leaven the biscuits instead of the baking powder and baking soda used in traditional recipes and even most sourdough biscuit recipes I found.
I came across one recipe that didn’t use those items and used it to guide my own version. I wanted my biscuits to be light and tangy. I wanted them to be easy to make and not require special ingredients. I came up with three versions that anyone can make easily.
Ingredients — My Favorite Version
2 Cups (284 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (24 grams) granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon (4 grams) Kosher salt
8 (170 grams) tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
¼ cup (60 grams) very cold milk
¼ cup (60 grams) sour cream
1 cup (227 grams) sourdough starter, recently fed
Mix the dry ingredients together
First, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a fork, cut in the cold unsalted butter. I usually use the fork to mash the butter into small pieces and then use my hand to gently mix it into the dry ingredients, breaking up large chunks with my fingers.
You want the butter to be cold so that it will take some elbow grease. You want to have small pea-sized pieces of butter in the mixture when you are finished. It should not be smooth but somewhat chunky. I like to put the bowl in the refrigerator while I mix together the wet ingredients, just to keep it chilled.
Mix the liquid ingredients together
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix your recently fed starter, sour cream, and milk. Stir together until the mixture is smooth. I usually mix this up several hours before making the biscuits and putting it into the refrigerator to get it as cold as possible.
Your starter should be cold before combining these ingredients. I will take my starter out of the refrigerator, feed it, and let it rest on the counter for an hour. Then, I will put it in the refrigerator to get it very cold before mixing it into my recipe.
Combine the wet and dry mixtures
Once you have let your mixtures chill for a few minutes, pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently fold the dry ingredients over the wet until it is just combined. The dough will be a little shaggy and slightly sticky.
Dust your counter with 1–2 tablespoons of flour and dump the dough out onto it. Gently fold the dough over and mash it flat 3–4 times. If the dough becomes too sticky, sprinkle a little more flour on the counter.
Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes if it has become too loose and hard to handle. Once it has firmed up, roll the dough into a single layer that is ¾" thick. Using a 2 ½" cutter, cut out 6 biscuits. Place them into a greased 9" round pie dish or cake pan. You can also use a cast-iron skillet.
Reroll the scraps and cut more biscuits. You will get between 8–10 biscuits cut. Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush the tops of each biscuit.
Proof your biscuits
Unlike traditional biscuits, you need to give the sourdough time to leaven these. It will take between 3 and 4 hours to complete the rise. This is called proofing.
I have a proofing drawer in my oven, but I usually opt for a simpler way to proof bread. I put a pan of boiling water in the bottom of my regular oven and turn on the oven light. This raises the temperature in the oven to the perfect level for helping bread to rise. The hot water prevents the bread from drying out before it can rise.
Bake your biscuits
After your biscuits have risen, remove them from your oven. Also, remove the pan of water from the bottom. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. After it is preheated, brush melted butter on the top of each biscuit, if you wish, and bake them for 20–25 minutes.
Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into one of the biscuits. If it comes out clean, they are done. If you have a kitchen thermometer, the biscuits will be done when they reach 200 degrees.
Several variations you can try
There are several variations that I experimented with that are almost as good as this recipe. The first variation simply uses ½ cup of milk instead of ¼ cup of milk and ¼ cup of sour cream. If you don’t like the tanginess of sourdough, this would be a good option for you.
The second variation substitutes ½ cup of buttermilk for the ¼ cup of milk and ¼ cup of sour cream. I think this version is slightly tangier than my favorite version. If you love that tangy sourdough taste, this version may be for you.
Finally, if you just don’t have that sourdough made or don’t have time for all that waiting, you can simply use a non-sourdough version. Instead of the sourdough starter, milk and sour cream used in the original recipe, use 1 cup of buttermilk, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and ¾ teaspoon of baking soda. In this version, you will bake them immediately, without needing to proof them.
These biscuits do take some time to make, mostly waiting time, but they are so worth it. They make delicious Apple Bombs, which I make using my own apple pie filling recipe. The original recipe includes using a square of caramel, but since we have diabetics in our family, I leave out the extra sugar.
You could drizzle them with a combination of caramel sauce and sugar icing, if you liked, or just leave them plain and add a scoop of ice cream.
I am planning to try using this recipe to make cinnamon rolls. Instead of cutting out biscuits, I will roll the dough out, spread melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon over the surface and roll it into a log. Then I will cut 1" slices and place them in my pie plate and let them rise before baking them.
However you make these, they will be a hit!
If you need my recipe for creating and feeding a sourdough starter, check out my post.