sourdough (Page 2)

Chocolate and tahini and tahini caramel are two flavor duos that maximize the deliciously nutty flavor of tahini. When combined to create chocolate tahini caramel, the flavors accentuate tahini’s unique earthy, savory taste in a sweet bundle.

These chocolate tahini caramel buns are the result of constant experimentation with sourdough discard. I always hesitate to throw it away as I can’t bear wasting it! Chocolate and tahini caramel, like chocolate and peanut butter, or chocolate and caramel, are one of those wonderful culinary permutations. They blend so harmoniously in these chocolate tahini caramel buns, which are both sweet and savory, driven by the earthy, nutty tahini caramel and sesame seeds, dark chocolate, and fruity spice of aleppo pepper, all enveloped by flaky layers of chocolate dough. 


for the dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast ** see note
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 3 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup sourdough starter discard
  • ½ cup neutral oil
  • 2 eggs

for the caramel filling

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup sesame seeds

for the assembly

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Note: This recipe uses ¼ of sourdough discard. If you do not have sourdough handy, use a full packet of active dry yeast.

dough steps

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and set aside. Place the active dry yeast in a small bowl or measuring cup and add the lukewarm water and sugar. Give it a mix, and let it sit until it is bubbly, about 5 minutes. This is called “activation,” you know the yeast has been fully activated when it has bubbles on top. 

Once the active dry yeast is visibly activated, place it in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook, or a large bowl if you intend to knead by hand. Add the sourdough starter discard and mix until combined. Then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, neutral oil, and eggs.

Slowly add in the flour/cocoa powder mixture, ½ cup at a time. Knead until the dough is shiny and slightly firm, about 5 minutes.

Grease the inside of a large bowl with oil and add the dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 2 hours until it has doubled in size.

caramel filling steps

About 1 hour into the dough’s rise, make the caramel filling so it has time to cool before assembling the buns.

Heat the sugar in a small pot on medium high. Do not mix the sugar yet, instead, swirl the pot continuously to redistribute the sugar as it begins to melt. Watch the sugar as it heats, it will happen quickly, about 4 minutes. Once the sugar begins to melt, add in the water then the tahini. At this point, you can safely mix the caramel. Let it continue cooking for 4-5 more minutes, it will become bubbly. Turn the heat to low and add in the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix until it is completely incorporated and bring it to a boil once more, and let it cook for about 4 more minutes. 

Remove it from the heat and mix in ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon aleppo pepper. Let it cool for 40 minutes. 

assembly steps

Roll out the dough into a large rectangle and brush on the caramel sauce. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, followed by the sesame seeds. Roll up the dough from the long side, turn it over on the seam, and cut it into 16 buns. Arrange cut-side up, evenly spaced apart in a rectangular baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again for 1 hour. The buns will double in size. 

When you are ready to bake the buns, preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the buns with melted butter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 35 minutes until they begin to flake and the caramel is bubbly. Let cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar.

The tahini caramel is flecked with fruity aleppo pepper

English muffins are an any-time-of-the-day kind of food. You can eat them first-thing in the morning, slathered with fresh butter or in the afternoon with smashed avocado. Use them to mop up runny eggs or top them with chicken, vegetables, and cheese for an open-faced sandwich. English muffins, especially sourdough english muffins, also make a great base for party snacks!

I grew up on Thomas’ English Muffins – regular, whole wheat, honey wheat, etc., and I still have a soft spot for their “nooks and crannies”. I remember my dad carefully instructing my sister and me to use a fork – never a knife – to split the muffins in two, giving us maximal jagged surface area for spreading whipped butter and cherry preserves.

These sourdough english muffins are easy + inexpensive to make and are thoroughly layered with flavor and texture. I opt to toast before eating, but they are just as delicious warm from the pan.


  • ½ cup (100 grams)  sourdough starter
  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) honey
  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) sugar
  • 1 cup (240 grams) milk
  • 3 cups (380 grams) all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt
  • ¼ cup (40 grams) cornmeal for dipping and coating dough


12-14 hours before baking (the night before)

Add the sourdough starter, honey, sugar, milk, flour, and salt to a bowl and mix evenly. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Knead for 5 minutes. I like to use a stand mixer, but you can knead by hand if you prefer. The dough will be sticky.

Let the dough sit at room temperature for 12-14 hour overnight.

morning of baking

Divide the dough evenly into 10 pieces. Shape each piece into a round by repeatedly turning it under itself and pinching it together on the bottom.

Place cornmeal in a shallow bowl and roll the top of each muffin in the cornmeal, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for an hour.

Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Place muffins into the skillet, 3-4 at a time. Cook for 5 minutes with the cornmeal side down, flip, and then cook for another 5 minutes.

This recipe for raisin caraway sourdough comes at the request of my boyfriend who loves both caraway seeds and raisins. I grew up eating seeded rye bread from the local German bakery, so for me, caraway seeds are always fragrant and nostalgic.

The flavors in these loaves are like that of Irish soda bread but with the chewy and crusty texture and tang of sourdough. I find this raisin caraway sourdough to be quite satisfying, and it may just inspire a whole new world of flavor possibilities for you, too!

I recommend using a dough scraper to help you work with and transfer your dough. It also helps scrape the sides of the bowl in its initial stages when it is still quite wet.

When adding mix-ins to sourdough bread, the key steps are to:

  • Soak the fruit and the seeds in water and add them along with most of their water to the dough
  • Add the mix-ins at the beginning of the first fold and gently massage them into the dough

makes 2 loaves of bread


for the levain

  • 1 tablespoon mature sourdough starter
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup water

for the dough

  • 2 + ¼ cups water
  • 5 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup raisins, soaked in ½ cup of water
  • 2-3 tablespoons caraway seeds, soaked

levain steps

The night before you plan to bake your bread, mix the levain by adding sourdough starter, ¼ cup whole-wheat flour, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, and ⅓ cup water in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit for 12 hours.

Your levain is ready when it is dotted with many small bubbles on top. To test that it is ready, drop it in water and see if it floats.

bread steps

Pour two cups of water into the levain and mix until it evenly dissolves. Add the flour and mix into a shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This is the autolyse stage when the flour absorbs the levain. It is during this process that the dough becomes more elastic and begins to develop its depth of flavor.

Meanwhile, fill a small bowl or measuring cup with ¼ cup of water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Mix until the salt dissolves.

Once the dough has sat for at least 30 minutes, pour the salt water over the dough and begin to squeeze and pinch it into the parts of the dough. It will feel slimy and sticky and wet. It is at this point when you add in the raisins and caraway seeds and continue pinching and squeezing into the dough.

Begin to stretch the dough by pulling one end upwards and folding it in half over itself (see below photos). Turn the bowl 90° and fold the dough up and over itself once again. Do this 4 times so that in total, you have turned the bowl a full 360°! This is the first fold (of 6 total!)

Let the dough sit for 30 minutes then repeat the folding process 5 more times, every 30 minutes, for 2 and a half hours, each time turning the bowl four times and folding it up and over itself. As the dough rests it will absorb some of the moisture and become more ecstatic. You will notice that it becomes less sticky and easier to work with.

After you have completed all of the turns, remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Cut it in half and shape each half by pushing the sides underneath it to form a ball. Let sit.

Line two large bowls with a dish towel and generously coat with flour. (This is where a proofing basket comes in if you have one). Starting with the right side of one loaf, fold four corners to the center and place, fold-side up, into one of the bowls. Repeat with the other loaf. Let sit for ~3 hours at room temperature.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500°F. Place two dutch ovens or heavy-bottomed pots 4 quarts or larger, with the lids on, inside for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn one loaf of dough into the pot with the side that was touching the towel or basket facing up. Repeat with the second loaf. If you only have one pot, you can bake the two loaves in a row.

Lower the oven to 450°F and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.