Sourdough Date Cranberry Walnut Muffins

Does anyone have unfed/discard sourdough starter on hand? I highly recommend using ’em in this sourdough date cranberry walnut muffins recipe. Why? Because it’s so yummy! And yes, you can make muffins using sourdough. I was just as bewildered as some of you now when I found out we can use unfed/discard sourdough starter to make many things.

Initially, I thought unfed/discard sourdough starter can only be used in a few things such as sourdough pancakes and sourdough crackers as I always hear sourdough bakers talk about them. Turns out they can be repurposed for practically any recipe as long as the recipe contains flour and liquid.

Sourdough Date Cranberry Walnut Muffins
These sourdough date cranberry walnut muffins light up my life. πŸ˜πŸ˜‹ They’re not loud or cranky but right at home!

Here’s a short introduction to my sourdough journey:
It has always been my dream to make REAL bread the traditional way. And, to make REAL bread, I need a sourdough starter. What’s been preventing me from making a sourdough starter is the waste it produced, or so I thought. I caved last year because I learned there are ways to reduce the amount of discard, ways to repurpose the discard (such as this recipe) or not produce any discard at all (once the sourdough mother/starter is up and running).

My first attempt at making a sourdough starter in October last year was unsuccessful. The 4-day-old starter (not stable yet) had to be kept in the fridge as there was a water supply disruption in my area for a few days. Talk about bad timing. After the water supply returned, I tried reviving the starter for 3 days but alas there was no activity. A month later, I tried making sourdough starter again and the rest is history. πŸ™‚

p/s: My sourdough mother is nearly a year old and I’ve yet to make bread. Haha What an irony! However, I’ve used the unfed/discard sourdough starter to make many things such as sourdough pancakes, sourdough crackers, sourdough banana bread and this sourdough muffin many a time.

Let’s make sourdough muffins!

Deseeded Dates
Start by deseeding the dates. I just use my fingers to pry open the dates and remove the seeds. If you think it’s gross, you can use a knife.

I’ve used firm dates and soft dates for this recipe and both work. Different types of dates have different levels of sweetness which also work without any change needed (this is based on my personal experience of using two different types of dates). The taste and aromas of different dates can be detected in the muffins. So, test a few types of dates for this muffin to see which one you like best (that is if you have a few kinds).

Also. I’ve reduced the amount of dates and sugar in this recipe compared to the original recipe, so these muffins are on the less sweet side. If you find the muffins still too sweet, feel free to reduce the sugar.

Chopped Dates
Coarsely chop the dates. I’m using soft dates here, hence they’re stickier and don’t look like they’ve been chopped in the photo but they sure are.

Organic Dried Cranberries
I’m using organic dried cranberries. You can also use fresh or frozen cranberries although I’ve never tried them. If you don’t have cranberries, you can substitute them with other fruits like cherries or prunes.

Chopped Dried Cranberries
Coarsely chop the dried cranberries.

Toasted Walnuts
In recent times, whenever a recipe asks for walnuts, I will toast it beforehand. They do make a difference. These are walnuts that have been toasted on a cast iron skillet. To judge if the walnuts have been toasted nicely, try a small piece and see.

Chopped Toasted Walnuts
Coarsely chop the toasted walnuts. I like them larger in size. Feel free to substitute with other types of nuts you have in your pantry.

Muffin Pan
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200oC (no fan/conventional) or 180oC (fan/convection). Next, place muffin liners in the 12-hole muffin pan.

Combine Dates, Cane Sugar, Butter, Water & Vanilla Extract
In a large saucepan (I’m using a glass-ceramic casserole), add water, chopped dates, cane sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil, while stirring occasionally.

Once boiled, pour the content into a large mixing bowl. Wait for the mixture to cool down just a little bit before adding the next ingredients or you can add the eggs last. Kindly use a large mixing bowl, for the batter will swell once you add baking soda.

Add Dried Cranberries, Walnuts, Baking Soda, Sea Salt & Eggs
Add chopped dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, baking soda, baking powder and eggs. Combine thoroughly with a dough whisk or balloon whisk.

Dough Whisk
My dough whisk. I’ve found that a dough whisk mixes batter/dough so much better while also not overmixing it. I’d go for a dough whisk over a balloon whisk or a spatula (which I now use for scrapping the bowl only) anytime.

Sourdough Starter Unfed Or Discard
My discard sourdough starter. I use a mix of organic unbleached bread flour and organic rye flour for my 100% hydration sourdough mother/starter.

Add Sourdough Starter Unfed Or Discard
Next, add unfed/discard sourdough starter and flour.

Sourdough Date Cranberry Walnut Muffins Batter
Stir with a dough whisk until well combined.

Sourdough Muffins Batter Ready For The Oven
Distribute the batter evenly into the 12 muffin liners. They should be about 4/5 full.

Place the muffin pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 17-19 mins, until a skewer inserted in the middle of 1-2 muffins comes out clean. If your oven is too hot, the top of the muffins may have dark spots early on (mine do have dark spots but I don’t mind). If so, cover the muffins with a tray or aluminium foil at halfway mark.

Sourdough Date Cranberry Walnut Muffins
When in the oven, they smell heavenly like caramel.

Once it’s baked, cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely. The sourdough muffins can be stored at room temperature in a container for a few days. If you want to keep some for longer, store them in a container in the freezer.

Sourdough Date Cranberry Walnut Muffins
These date cranberry walnut muffins are soft, light and fluffy on the inside. It’s also less sweet as mentioned earlier. No one will suspect these muffins are made of sourdough for they’re not tangy or sour at all.

Sourdough Date Cranberry Walnut Muffins
These muffins taste better the day after, as it becomes moister and the flavor intensified. Although they can be frozen, I feel that these muffins that have been stored at room temperature taste better than when it’s has been frozen and defrosted. I always freeze (after a day at room temperature to develop flavor) most of the muffins as I cannot finish them within a few days. Simply defrost the muffin at room temperature before enjoying it.

I especially love toasting the muffins on all sides so that it’s crisp outside, and warm and soft inside. That’s when I smear a generous amount of butter and bite into them. I may also substitute butter with cream cheese or ice-cream.

Sourdough Date Cranberry Walnut Muffins

Come try making these sourdough date cranberry walnut muffins. They are an absolute delight!

Sourdough Date Cranberry Walnut Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Baking
Makes 12 muffins

113g water, boiled/unboiled, room temperature
100g deseeded dates, chopped coarsely
50g organic cane sugar (if using granulated sugar, reduce the quantity as organic cane sugar tend to be less sweet)
113g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

75g dried cranberries, chopped coarsely (can also use fresh/frozen but I never tried)
75g walnuts, toasted & chopped coarsely
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs

230g sourdough starter (100% hydration), unfed/discard
150g organic unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 200oC (no fan/conventional) or 180oC (fan/convection). Line a 12-hole muffin pan with muffin liners.

2. Add A to a large saucepan and cook over medium heat. Bring to a boil while stirring often.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

4. Add B and mix thoroughly with a dough whisk or balloon whisk.

5. Add starter and flour and stir until evenly combined.

6. Scoop the batter into the 12 muffin liners until they are evenly distributed and fill to about 4/5 full.

7. Bake the muffins for 17-19 mins on the middle rack, until a skewer inserted in the center of 1-2 muffins comes out clean. Remember to rotate the muffin pan 180o at halfway mark. Cover the muffins with a tray or aluminium foil also at halfway mark if the top surface starts having darker spots.

8. Remove the muffins from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then, transfer the muffins to a cooling rack to cool them completely.

9. Store muffins in a container at room temperature for a few days. For longer storage, keep them in a container in the freezer. Defrost the muffins at room temperature before digging into them.


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  • Reply Jojo October 27, 2023 at 5:22 am

    Hi, these cranberry walnut muffins look so yummy! I’ve not tried sourdough baking yet but these muffins and what you shared is giving me some ideas or motivation to explore in the future. Thanks for sharing! Btw, I stumbled on your blog for its old review on Baba Low’s in Melaka. One of the best Nyonya laksas I’ve had too, even after trying other ‘famous’ ones. Good info on the location/direction so I sent the page to my friend looking for the shop! Thanks for keeping your blog πŸ™‚

    • Reply Che-Cheh October 27, 2023 at 8:04 am

      Hi Jojo! Oh you must try these muffins if and when you get your hands on the sourdough starter.

      Wow, it’s been 9 years since my last visit to Baba Low! While I can’t remember how the food tasted like anymore, I knew I would go back there without hesitation.

      Thank you for visiting my blog & sharing it with your friend. πŸ™‚

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