These sourdough discard snickerdoodle cookies are buttery and soft with a crispy cinnamon-sugar crust.
They are tangy, with a hint of vanilla, and lots of cinnamon. This slight tang makes them the perfect way to use up sourdough discard.
Sourdough Tip: Keep a glass jar in your refrigerator to store your sourdough discard. Continue adding to it until you have enough to make one of these sourdough discard recipes.
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What is a snickerdoodle?
According to the Joy of Baking, “Snickerdoodles are also called Snipdoodles or Cinnamon Sugar Cookies. Recipes for this cookie started to appear in the late 1800s, and most agree they probably originated in New England and are of either German or Dutch descent.
No matter where the name came from they are delicious and one of my mom’s favorite cookies.
What is the difference between snickerdoodles and sugar cookies?
While the recipes are very similar, there are two main differences between a snickerdoodle cookie and a sugar cookie.
Snickerdoodles use cream of tartar which gives them their signature tang. They are also rolled in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar before baking.
Sugar cookies don’t contain cream of tartar and aren’t rolled in cinnamon and sugar.
What makes perfect sourdough snickerdoodle cookies?
My perfect sourdough snickerdoodle cookie is soft and chewy in the middle with a slightly crispy edge. It has that signature snickerdoodle tang which helps offset the sweetness and is rolled in lots of cinnamon and sugar.
Underbaking your snickerdoodles slightly guarantees soft, buttery cookies. I’ve found that the perfect baking time for my oven is 11 minutes. But oven temperatures vary so you will want to watch your cookies closely.
The easiest way to verify the accuracy of your oven temperature is to use an inexpensive oven thermometer. Oven temperatures can vary as much as 50 degrees plus or minus.
For a crispier cookie, bake them for slightly longer (about 2-3 minutes more).
My secret for perfectly baked cookies is this AirBake cookie sheet. My cookies bake evenly every time I use these pans.
AirBake cookie sheets have two aluminum layers with a layer of air in between them. The layer of air decreases the temperature of the top layer of metal, preventing the bottom of the cookie from browning too quickly.
These pans are also really easy to clean. Just wipe them clean with a little soap and hot water. It is not recommended to fully submerge these pans in water or place them in a dishwasher.
Why is there cream of tartar in snickerdoodle cookies?
Cream of tartar or tartaric acid is a by-product of winemaking. When combined with baking soda it helps the snickerdoodles to rise and gives them their signature tangy flavor.
Cream of tartar also prevents the sugar in the cookie dough from crystalizing into crunchiness. Creating a softer chewier cookie.
“One more way cream of tartar gets used in the kitchen is when we’re working with sugar. Where cream of tartar is a stabilizing agent for egg whites, a pinch added to boiling sugar is actually an interfering agent. The cream of tartar gets in the way of sugar’s natural tendency to bind together and prevents those dreaded sugar crystals from forming.” — Emma Christensen, The Kitchn
Do I have to use cream of tartar in snickerdoodles?
Nope. If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can substitute 2 teaspoons of baking powder for the cream of tartar and baking soda.
What is sourdough?
Sourdough is a leavening method typically used for sourdough bread. Sourdough relies on the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria in flour to leaven baked goods.
If you have questions about maintaining your sourdough starter, watch this super helpful video from Baker Bettie.
If you’re feeling nervous about starting your sourdough journey and wish you had someone to walk you through the process step by step, I urge you to try these courses from Heather at Leavenly.com.
Don’t work your life around sourdough… Make sourdough work for you!
Through my new love for sourdough bread baking, I developed the flexible and customizable Leavenly Process to help other busy moms avoid the common pitfalls and challenges plaguing home bakers. The Leavenly Process allowed me to adapt any sourdough recipe to fit my climate, my ingredients, my life. I was no longer intimidated by sourdough. I said goodbye to unrealistic Instagram expectations. I was free of frustration! – Heather from Leavenly.com
This course includes:
- 10 Days of written step-by-step easy to follow instructions
- Troubleshooting tips
- Bonus video links, additional free resources, & community support
- 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee
- And more…
This course includes:
- A how-to video guide from start to finish
- Scheduling tips and guidelines
- Starter issues, like feedings and smell
- Common challenges and troubleshooting for both your starter and your bread
- Scoring methods and designs
- Shaping techniques for boules and batards
- Benefits of cold-proofing your dough
- Thorough explanation of hydration, and why it matters
- Adding different ingredients to your dough
As you get to know your starter you can adjust your process to suit your routine. Because I wanted to reduce the amount of discard I generate I have actually converted my starter to a micro starter which you can read more about at Cooks Illustrated.
If you’re growing tired of feeding your starter you can dry your starter and store it in the pantry. Check out How to Dry (and Revive) Your Sourdough Starter for Long-Term Storage for step-by-step instructions on both drying and reviving your starter.
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.
A fluffy loaf of sourdough bread needs well-fed, active starter that will impart flavor, fermentation, and leavening. But there are other recipes, that do well with unfed discarded starter. Waffles, pancakes, biscuits, crackers, pizza crust, and brownies are just a few examples.
Sourdough discard is not always strong enough to leaven baked goods on its own, so sourdough discard recipes usually need additional leavening in the form of baking soda, baking powder, or yeast. Most quick bread recipes can easily be turned into sourdough discard recipes.
Most sourdough starters are kept at 100% hydration meaning they are fed with equal amounts of water and flour. If you keep your starter at a different hydration level, you might need to adjust the flour our liquid amounts accordingly.
Creating a sourdough cookie
Because snickerdoodles already have a slight tang I thought they would be a perfect way to use some of my sourdough discard and turn them into a sourdough cookie.
Sourdough discard is 50% water. Therefore, we need to reduce the amount of water in our cookies.
Egg whites are 90% water. By eliminating them we are eliminating 40 grams of water.
Butter is 18% water. Browning the butter will cause the water to evaporate reducing the amount of water by 30 grams.
How to brown butter
Slice the butter into pieces and melt it in a light-colored skillet over medium heat stirring or whisking constantly. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam.
Continue stirring/whisking for about 5-7 minutes, the butter will become a deep amber color. Remove the browned butter from the heat, and pour it into a bowl. Allow the butter to cool for 30 minutes.
If you still have questions about how to brown butter, check out this video from America’s Test Kitchen.
Light-colored pan for browning the butter.
While not completely necessary a stand mixer takes a lot of the hard work out of mixing cookie dough. I have had a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for almost 16 years and absolutely love it.Sign up for KitchenAid’s Newsletter to receive 10% off your next order!
A sturdy spatula for scraping the sides of your bowl and making sure you use every last bit of this delicious cookie dough.
Sturdy cookie sheets. My favorite are these Airbake cookie sheets.
Brown the Butter: Slice the butter into pieces and melt it in a light-colored skillet over medium heat stirring or whisking constantly. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Continue stirring/whisking for about 5-7 minutes, the butter will become a deep amber color. Remove the browned butter from the heat, and pour it into a bowl. Allow the butter to cool for 30 minutes.
Mix the Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Mix the Wet Ingredients: In a large bowl add the browned butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Whisk until there are no lumps of brown sugar. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth. Fold in the sourdough discard.
Combine the Dry and Wet Ingredients: Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
Refrigerate the Dough: Wrap the dough in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
Roll the Dough into Balls: In a small bowl stir together the ingredients for the cinnamon-sugar coating. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Using two tablespoons of dough each roll into tall oblong balls. Roll the dough balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture coating thoroughly.
Bake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheight. Place nine dough balls on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes for soft cookies or 15 minutes for crunchier cookies. Allow the cookies to cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Baking Tip: My mom’s trick for evenly baked cookies is to rotate the cookies while they bake. Place the first baking sheet of cookies on the lower rack of the oven and bake until they begin to spread out (usually the same amount of time it takes me to divvy out the dough on to the second baking sheet.) Move the first baking sheet of cookies to the top rack and rotate 180-degrees to finish baking and place the second baking sheet of cookies on the bottom rack. Continue this process until all of the cookies have been baked.
- Allow the melted butter to cool slightly so that it doesn’t melt the sugar. Mixing the butter in when it is too hot can cause the snickerdoodles to become greasy.
- Use room temperature eggs and sourdough discard. Chilled eggs or sourdough discard may cause some of the butter to resolidify prematurely. To quickly bring the eggs to room temperature, place them in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes.
- If you don’t have cream of tartar: Substitute 2 teaspoons of baking powder for BOTH the cream of tartar AND the baking soda.
- You must chill the dough for at least 2-3 hours before baking. Because we browned the butter the fats need to re-solidify. Chilling also allows the sugar to absorb more liquid further solidifying the dough. If the dough is baked without chilling it first, the cookies will spread while baking and become thin, hard, and crispy.
- Roll the dough into tall oblong balls. This shape will help make sure the cookie is soft in the middle and crispy on the edges.
- 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.
- Allow the cookies to cool for 15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. These snickerdoodles are so soft and gooey they may fall apart if you try to move them too soon.
Make-ahead and freezing instructions
Make-Ahead: You can mix up the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Storing: Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Freezing Cookie Dough: Unbaked cookie dough balls can be frozen for up to 3 months.
After rolling the dough into balls place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Once frozen, remove from the baking sheet and place in a zip-top bag. Label with the date and contents.
When you are ready to bake, remove the balls from the freezer, let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, pre-heat the oven, and then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Freezing Baked Cookies: Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, place them on a sheet pan and freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen cookies to an airtight container or zip-top bag. Label with the date and contents.
Thaw frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter.
More cookie recipes:
- Amaretto Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Bacon Grease Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Caramel Filled Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
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