Sourdough Discard Apple Cinnamon Muffins

These sourdough discard apple cinnamon muffins have a tall crunchy cinnamon-sugar top and a soft tender interior.

Muffins are one of the easiest ways to use up excess sourdough discard because unlike other sourdough recipes they don’t take hours to make. They rely on chemical leaveners, like baking powder and baking soda, rather than yeast for their rise.

Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a white napkin.
Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a white napkin.

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Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Bursting with cinnamon apple flavor these muffins are the perfect fall treat.
  • The muffins are so easy to mix together. You don’t need a mixer just two bowls and minimal arm power.
  • If, like me, you are always looking for a way to use up your sourdough discard you will be happy to hear that this sourdough discard recipe uses an entire cup of sourdough discard!

What is sourdough discard?

Sourdough discard is the part of your sourdough starter that you usually throw away when you feed it. I feel guilty about throwing away food and am always looking for ways to reduce food waste.

Sourdough discard adds tons of incredible flavor to baked goods. The lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough discard adds flavor and tenderizes wheat proteins.

This recipe can use sourdough discarded from any step in the sourdough starter process. It can be bubbly and freshly fed, dormant from sitting in your refrigerator, or anywhere in between. It also doesn’t matter what type of flour your starter has been fed with. All-purpose, whole wheat, or any variety of flour will work.

If you are looking for more simple ways to use your sourdough discard, try these sourdough crackers, some sourdough flatbread, or this sourdough snickerdoodle cookie recipe.

Sourdough Tip: Keep a glass jar in your refrigerator to store your sourdough discard. Continue adding to it until you have enough to make your chosen sourdough discard recipe.

What if you don’t have any sourdough?

While this recipe was created to use up excess sourdough discard, you can easily substitute the same amount of sour cream, yogurt, or unsweetened applesauce if you don’t have any discard.

What variety of apples is best for baking?

When baking with apples you want to look for apples that will hold their shape and not turn to mush when they are baked. Granny Smith apples are typically the go-to apple when baking but they are not your only option.

My personal favorite is the Honey Crisp apple. It is my favorite apple to eat, which means I always have them on hand. Their not-too-sweet crisp texture also holds up well when baked.

Other apple varieties to try:

  • Jonagold: These apples are a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples. They are tart and sweet and hold up well in the oven. They do not store well so make sure to use them up quickly.
  • Fuji: Sweet, juicy and widely available these firm apples are great for baking.
  • Braeburn: Another crisp apple that has a spicy-sweet flavor and remains juicy but not mushy when baked.
  • Mutsu or Crispin: This apple has firm flesh that holds up well when heated.
  • Pink Lady: These apples have a balanced sweet and tart flavor and will retain their shape when baked.

What is your favorite baking apple? Let me know in the comments below.

Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin ingredients on a dark wood backgound.
Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin ingredients on a dark wood background.

Ingredients

  • Flour: This muffin recipe uses more than 3 cups of all-purpose flour. The batter is thick like cookie dough to keep the fruit from sinking to the bottom.
  • Baking Powder Baking Soda: I really wanted a tall muffin top. So this recipe uses both types of leaveners.
  • Cinnamon and Nutmeg: Cinnamon and nutmeg are a classic pairing for apples. You can also substitute an equal amount of apple pie spice.
  • Salt: I add at least a pinch of salt to all of my dessert recipes. Salt complements and intensifies the other flavors. For all of my recipes, I use Morton Kosher Salt which is saltier than Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you are using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt you will want to double the amount of salt you add. 
  • Apples: See above section for apple recomendations.
  • Sugar: White sugar helps to produce a chewy crust while brown sugar keeps the interior moist.
  • Milk: Milk adds moisture and creates a tender crumb. I usually use whole milk, but other dairy milks should work just fine. I have not tested this recipe with non-dairy milks. If you give it a try please let me know how they turn out.
  • Oil: Oil produces moist tender muffins. Make sure you use a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil to avoid adding unwanted flavor to the muffins.
  • Eggs: Eggs add moisture and help bind everything together. The extra egg yolk provides additional fat which makes the muffins softer. It also produces muffins that are more golden in color.
  • Sourdough Discard: If you don’t have sourdough discard, you can easily substitute the same amount of sour cream, yogurt, or unsweetened applesauce.
  • Melted Butter: Melted butter adds flavor and helps the cinnamon-sugar topping to stick.

Equipment

Kitchen scale: Kitchen scales make baking faster and neater. Accuracy matters in baking. Scales are more precise than measuring cups. Too much flour or not enough sugar can dramatically change a recipe. The most accurate way to bake is to measure your ingredients by weight rather than volume.

A kitchen scale also reduces the number of dishes you will need to wash because you are measuring each ingredient directly from the container into the mixing bowl without the use of measuring cups.

This scale from OXO is the one I use after it was recommended by Alton Brown. What makes this scale great is the display pulls out to make viewing measurements easier when using a large bowl.

Mixing Bowls: These are some of my favorite mixing bowls. They come in a huge range of sizes, nest together for easy storage, and are easy to clean.

Rubber spatula: For folding batters together, I prefer a stiffer spatula like this one from OXO. It fits comfortably in my hand, is dishwasher safe, and is heat-resistant up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the handle and head are silicone coated which makes it easy to clean and safe to use with my non-stick cookware and bakeware.

Muffin Pan: My muffin pans are from Wilton. They have a non-stick coating which means they are easy to clean and muffins come out cleanly with or without muffin liners. They are dishwasher safe but to keep them in their best condition I prefer to hand wash them.

Pastry Brush: I am partial to silicone pastry brushes because they are heat resistant and dishwasher safe. I like them over bristled brushes because I don’t have to worry about them leaving stray bristles behind.

Directions

Move the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease one standard 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with muffin papers. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Toss the apples in the dry ingredients until they are well coated. This will prevent the apples from sinking to the bottom of the muffins. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the sugars, oil, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Stir in the sourdough discard.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together gently with a spatula until just combined. Do not over mix. The batter will be thick. Allow the batter to rest for 5 minutes.

Divide the batter between each muffin cup, filling all the way to the top.

Sourdough apple cinnamon muffins in a muffin pan.
Sourdough apple cinnamon muffins in a muffin pan.

Bake the muffins at 425°F for 5 minutes, then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin, if it comes out clean, the muffins are done.

While the muffins are baking prepare the topping. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a wire cooling rack.
Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a wire cooling rack.

Allow the muffins to cool for several minutes in the muffin pan. Remove a muffin from the pan, brush the top with the melted butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place the muffins on a wire rack to cool completely.

Frequently asked questions

What is the easiest way to peel apples?

When peeling apples the right tools really do make the job easier. This Y peeler is sharp and makes peeling apples and other produce quick and easy.

If you are peeling larger quantities of apples, I recommend these two items that will make the task much easier.

I have had this apple peeler for several years. It is simple to use and easy to clean.

Recently I was gifted a peeler attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. It is great for peeling and slicing apples, but it also does a good job of spiralizing other fruits and vegetables.

How do you stop fruit from sinking to the bottom of the muffins?

Coat the fruit in flour before adding it to the batter. The flour coating will help the fruit stick to the batter and keep it from sinking to the bottom.

The thick batter also helps ensure fruit stays evenly distributed rather than concentrated at the bottom of the muffin. The batter for these muffins is almost as thick as cookie dough.

Do you need muffin liners for baking?

Muffins can be baked with or without liners. If baked with liners they will have a softer outside texture. Muffins baked without liners will be slightly crispier and darker on the outside.

How do you make tall muffins?

To get a tall muffin, fill the muffin pan to the very top with batter and start baking your muffins at a higher temperature and then after about five minutes lower the temperature.

I start my muffins at 425°F and then lower the temperature to 350°F. Starting at a higher temperature gives the baking soda and baking powder a nice boost of heat that encourages rising.

It also allows the outside of the muffin to set quickly giving the inside the structure it needs to keep rising. This trick will only work with really thick muffin batters that have enough structure to support the muffin.

How do you know when the muffins are done?

Baking times for all recipes are only suggestions. The actual baking time will vary depending upon your oven. It is helpful to know your oven and worth purchasing an inexpensive oven thermometer. Oven temperatures can vary as much as 50 degrees plus or minus.

Insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean or with just a crumb or two sticking to it your muffins are done. If there is uncooked batter on the toothpick bake the muffins for a few minutes longer.

Alternatively, you can check your muffins with an instant-read thermometer. This one from ThermoWorks is my favorite. Once the center of the muffins has reached 200 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit they are done.

Storage

These muffins will stay moist for a couple of days when stored at room temperature. Store them in an airtight container for 1-2 days. Any longer than that at room temperature and the fruit will start tasting fermented especially on warm days.

For longer storage keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

They can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap each muffin in plastic wrap and place them in a zip-top bag. Thaw muffins at room temperature.

Half a sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a dark wood background.
Half a sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a dark wood background.

Tips

  • Make sure the apples are coated with the flour mixture before adding the wet ingredients. This will ensure they are evenly distributed throughout the batter and they won’t sink to the bottom.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter. A few lumps are fine. Overmixing will create too much gluten causing your muffins to be tough.
  • The muffin batter will be very thick, almost like cookie dough. This prevents the fruit from sinking to the bottom and helps to give the muffins a tall muffin top.
  • Muffins bake best on the middle rack of the oven. Too low and the bottoms will burn, too high and the tops will brown too quickly.

Variations

  • Loaf Pans: Muffins and quickbreads are very similar. 
    1. Pour the batter into the 2 greased 9×5 loaf pans and bake at 350°F for 60 to 65 minutes. The apple raspberry bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
    2. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Mini Muffins:
    1. Divide the batter between the cups of a mini muffin pan.
    2. Bake at 350°F for 11-13 minutes. Yields about 24 mini muffins.
  • This is a delicious muffin base. You can substitute another fruit like pears, strawberries, or blueberries for the apples.
Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a cooling rack.

Sourdough Discard Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Yield: 12 Muffins
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
These sourdough discard apple cinnamon muffins have a tall crunchy cinnamon-sugar top and a soft tender interior.

Ingredients

Apple Muffins

  • 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cup (200g) peeled and diced apples (2 medium apples)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (106g) brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (132g) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240g) sourdough discard

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • 1/4 cup (56g) melted butter
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Move the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease one standard 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with muffin papers. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Toss the apples in the dry ingredients until they are well coated. This will prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the muffins. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the sugars, oil, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Stir in the sourdough discard.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together gently with a spatula until just combined. Do not over mix. The batter will be thick. Allow the batter to rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Divide the batter between each muffin cup, filling all the way to the top.
  6. Bake the muffins at 425°F for 5 minutes, then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin, if it comes out clean, the muffins are done.
  7. While the muffins are baking prepare the topping. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Allow the muffins to cool for several minutes in the muffin pan. Remove a muffin from the pan, brush the top with the melted butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place the muffins on a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • Make sure the apples are coated with the flour mixture before adding the wet ingredients. This will ensure they are evenly distributed throughout the batter and they won't sink to the bottom.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter. A few lumps are fine. Overmixing will create too much gluten causing your muffins to be tough.
  • The muffin batter will be very thick, almost like cookie dough. This prevents the fruit from sinking to the bottom and helps to give the muffins a tall muffin top.
  • Muffins bake best on the middle rack of the oven. Too low and the bottoms will burn, too high and the tops will brown too quickly.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 155Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 295mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g

This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from an online calculator. Although raspberriesandkohlrabi.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

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Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a wire cooling rack.
Sourdough apple cinnamon muffin on a wire cooling rack.

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