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Discard Day: Make Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

Our weather was warm late last week before turning significantly cooler on Sunday: perfect weather to make and bake a pan of warm sourdough cinnamon buns to have on hand for Sunday breakfast. Plus, the prodigal son returned home on Saturday evening for a quick visit and was around on Sunday morning to help eat the buns. Because the weather was so warm late last week, my sourdough starter really bubbled, and bubbled, and bubbled. I had to do something, and, as usual, I couldn't just feed the starter and throw out the discard. So, I mixed up a quick dough with some discard in the morning, left it in the sunroom to rise (thinking it would take all day), and took off for the gym, grocery stores, and miscellaneous other errands (like taking the income tax to the post office). With the sunroom warming up to over 80 degrees while I was out, the cinnamon buns rose much more quickly than I anticipated. They were ready to bake in 6-7 hours. The buns baked up golden brown, fragrant with cardamom, cinnamon, and toasted walnuts, and nice and soft and squishy. I used a modicum of butter and sugar in the buns, but they were rich enough with the slight sourdough tang adding to the flavor. Although the buns would have been fine, "as is," I drizzled them with an orange glaze to make them a little more special. The buns really are easy to do, and the rise time can be extended to enable you to make them in the morning and bake them in the evening to enjoy after dinner (or make them after dinner, let them rise all night, and bake them in the morning for breakfast). If you want a longer rise time to suit your schedule (i.e., make them in the morning and bake them in the evening), just don't leave the buns in a hot porch or room. The buns are best served warm, fresh out of the oven. Nonetheless, you can, as I do, reheat them successfully in a low oven (the glaze will sink in...ummm!) or one-at-a-time in the microwave for 15 seconds at 50 percent power.

Easy Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

Easy Sourdough Cinnamon Buns -- Makes a 9 x 13-inch Pan

1 cup of sourdough starter/discard

1 cup of water

1 1/2 cups of white whole-wheat flour

2 tablespoons of canola oil

1/3 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of cardamom

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour


1/4 cup of butter (1/2 stick), melted

1/2 cup of dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

2/3 cup of chopped (preferably toasted) walnuts


1 teaspoon of butter

2-3 tablespoons of orange juice

1 1/3 cups of confectioner's sugar

Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (or line the pan with foil and spray the foil). In a large bowl, combine the starter and water. Stir in the white whole-wheat flour with a spoon. Mix in the oil, sugar, cardamom, and salt. Stir in 1 cup of the all-purpose flour. Gradually knead in the remaining flour with your hands and continue kneading the dough for about 5 minutes. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, pat the dough out to form a rectangle about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. To make the filling, brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts evenly across the buttered dough. Using the waxed paper to help you, roll up the dough, jelly-roll style, starting from a long end, to form a cylinder. Cut the roll into 1-inch slices and place the slices in the prepared pan leaving about 1/2-inch spaces between the buns (if the nuts fall out, don't worry about it, just press them back into the dough). Spray the top of the buns with non-stick cooking spray (or brush them with more melted butter, if you prefer) and cover them lightly with plastic wrap. Let the buns rise until they about double in volume and expand to mostly fill the pan. The buns should rise in 6-12 hours, depending on the temperature of your room. Bake the buns for 25-35 minutes until light golden brown. If you'd like to glaze the buns, add the butter and 2 tablespoons of orange juice to a 2-cup measuring container and warm them together in the microwave until the butter is melted and juice is hot--about 30 seconds. Add the confectioner's sugar gradually, beating the mixture well to incorporate the sugar. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little more orange juice and stir it in well. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the buns. If the glaze hardens up or seems hard to drizzle, heat it for 30 seconds in the microwave, stir it well, and then drizzle it over the cinnamon buns. Enjoy!

Easy Sourdough Cinnamon Buns--Use Up That Discard!

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