If you have leftover sourdough starter, follow this recipe to make the best cranberry sourdough muffins ever. They’re super easy to make and they give a delightful lift to a simple breakfast or afternoon tea. (Especially when smothered with butter!) Here at Serendipity Farmhouse, we have a special name for these delicious treats – Daisy’s Cranberry Muffins.
Now that the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen is experimenting with sourdough, we have a problem. We have too much sourdough starter and we don’t want to waste the excess. After extensive research, we’ve found several recipes for extra starter that would otherwise be discarded. The recipe for Daisy’s Cranberry Muffins is our favorite so far.
Testing Daisy’s Cranberry Sourdough Muffins
We didn’t arrive at success with this recipe overnight. My Test Kitchen staff started with a very good base recipe for Blueberry Sourdough Muffins from the King Arthur Baking site. After a few tests and several adjustments, the staff came up with the recipe that has become our standard of excellence.
Using Persnickety Pierre’s Criteria of Excellence, let’s take a closer look at what makes Daisy’s recipe work so well.
1. Level of the cranberry sourdough muffins challenge
King Arthur has developed a very good basic recipe. It’s easy to follow, and the results are consistent. Additionally, the recipe is versatile and allows for easy changes.
2. Selection of good-quality ingredients
With the exception of three items, ingredients used in Daisy’s Cranberry Sourdough Muffins are familiar standards. Our Test Kitchen staff has found King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour to be reliable and consistent in quality. With regard to dried cranberries, there are many good products available. We recommend that you pay close attention to the expiration date on the package.
Needless to say, make sure that your sourdough starter discard is either ripe (fed) or still relatively fresh. After all, this is the star ingredient for your muffins.
As an aside, many of us who are into sourdough, give names to our starter. Being Downton Abbey fans, this was a no-brainer. Our starter is known as Mrs. Patmore, named after the senior cook at Downton Abbey.
It only made sense to name the sourdough starter discard after Mrs. Patmore’s assistant cook, Daisy Mason.
3. Use of cooking techniques
If you’ve made muffins before, this will be a cinch. Only regular muffin making techniques are used.
4. Development of superior taste and flavor
There was only one point where the Test Kitchen staff decided to make a significant change. The recipe calls for one cup of yellow cornmeal. We determined that was too much for our taste. So, we cut the amount by half and compensated by adding more flour.
During our first test of the recipe, we had no blueberries on hand. That’s when we elected to use dried cranberries. The addition of the cranberries brought about a satisfying burst of flavor. We were so delighted with the result that we’ve decided to stick with cranberries in the future. Of course, blueberries and other types of berries, such as currents, might give you results better suited to your personal taste.
I’m sorry, but I can’t comment on presentation yet. These muffins have a knack of finding their way directly to the table. The duration of their presence on the table is usually no more than a few seconds. Consequently, there’s no reason to make a big deal over presentation.
What if you don’t have sourdough Starter?
So, you don’t have any starter? Well, there are several ways of going about getting some or making your own. Here are a few ideas:
- If you have a friend who’s into sourdough baking, ask for a gift of one cup of starter and read up on how to feed and care for it.
- Should you want to start from scratch and do it yourself, there are many YouTube videos and blog posts with all the information you need. – Here’s a link to a post describing How to Make a Sourdough Starter offered by Farmhouse on Boone.
- Suppose you think some of this is too complicated. Well, you can purchase starter kits that come with fresh sourdough or sourdough cultures. They usually provide a good set of instructions. Here are links to two examples: Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter & Cultures for Health San Francisco Sourdough.
To quote Jacques Pépin: “Happy cooking!”
Daisy's Cranberry Sourdough Muffins
- 1½ cups (180g) unbleached all-purpose flour We use King Arthur
- ½ cup (69g) yellow cornmeal, preferably whole grain
- ¾ teaspoon salt We use sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup (227g) sourdough starter, ripe (fed) or discard
- ¼ cup (57g) milk
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup (50g) vegetable oil We use Canola oil
- ½ cup (170g) honey
- 1 cup (170g) dried cranberries up to 2 cups if desired
- Demerara sugar or coarse sparkling sugar, for sprinkling tops if desired
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease the wells of a 12-cup muffin pan, or line with papers and grease the inside of the papers.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- In a second bowl, beat together the starter, milk, egg, vegetable oil, and sweetener. Blend the wet ingredients with the dry, taking about 20 seconds. Gently stir in the cranberries just until blended.
- Fill the cups of the prepared pan two-thirds full. If desired, sprinkle the tops of the muffins with sugar.
- Bake the muffins for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. Don't let them cool in the pan, or they'll steam and the outside will become tough.