Sourdough Discard Scones

Sourdough Scones
Photography by Art Meripol / Recipe Development by Stacey Ballis

In our March/April issue, author Stacey Ballis reveals the tangy secret to her baked goods: sourdough discard. Instead of tossing the discard, Stacey shows you how to incorporate your discard in everything from biscuits to loaf cake to these Cherry Walnut Sourdough Scones. 

Sourdough Scones
Photography by Art Meripol / Recipe Development by Stacey Ballis

These scones are a wonderful and flexible recipe made from sourdough discard that is simple enough for everyday breakfast and elegant enough for your next brunch or high tea. Barely sweet, they are a great foil for cream and jam or honey butter. You can add any dried fruit, nut, and/or chocolate chip or chunk combination you like. We love them with dried cherries or with walnuts and white chocolate chips. If you like a bit of spice, try adding a pinch of cinnamon and some chopped candied ginger. 

Cherry Walnut Sourdough Scones
Photography by Art Meripol / Recipe Development by Stacey Ballis
4.4 from 51 reviews
Sourdough Discard Scones
 
Makes 8
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup mix-ins of your choice (57 grams chopped nuts, 64 grams dried fruit, or 85 grams chocolate morsels)
  • 1 cup (275 grams) sourdough starter discard
  • ½ cup (120 grams) heavy whipping cream, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon (12 grams) Demerara or turbinado sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, place flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; pulse until combined, about 3 times. Add cold butter, and pulse until mixture is crumbly with some larger pieces of butter remaining, 10 to 12 quick pulses. Turn out dough into a large bowl, and stir in desired mix-ins.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together sourdough discard and cream until combined. Add discard mixture to flour mixture, stirring with a fork just until dough comes together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times until a slightly sticky dough is formed.
  4. Gently pat dough into an 8-inch circle, about 1 inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. (You can also shape dough into a square, and cut into 9 square scones, if you like.) Place scones on prepared pan. Brush top of scones with cream, and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
  5. Bake until tops and edges are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

87 COMMENTS

  1. I have been looking for discard recipes and couldn’t be happier to find this. I made chocolate chip scones. So delicious!! Light and tender with a hint of that sourdough tang. Will be making these regularly from now on!!

  2. No way these are cooked in 10-12 minutes! I made 2 small circles of dough and even in my convection oven, they took 15-20 minutes. BUT they are crunchy on the outside, tender inside and flaky and not too sweet—I skipped brushing with cream and sprinkling with sugar. I also used whole milk and they were awesome!

  3. I’m pretty sure I followed the recipe correctly and used the exact weighted measurements, but this turned into more of a batter and less of a dough. There was no way to knead this on a counter. I added about 1/4 of a cup more flour but it was still too wet so I just spooned it into rough rounds onto a baking sheet with parchment. They turned out alright but ended up with more of a mess while mixing than I anticipated.

  4. I was disappointed in the texture of these scones. Although the crumb was tender, it was slightly “bready”. The outside crust lacked the buttery, melt in your mouth texture of a delicious scone. I also found the flavor to be underwhelming despite the addition of dark chocolate chunks and toasted walnuts. I used the weight measures and did not need to add all of the discard/whipping cream mixture to hydrate the flour to make a sticky dough. My scones baked for 20 minutes before testing done.

  5. Absolutely delicious & easy to make! I hate to throw discard out & this is the best recipe I’ve tried so far. Thank you for sharing

    *I did have to bake longer than called for

  6. These are tasty! Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge. I did bake in convection oven at 400 for closer to 18 min. I used frozen organic blueberries. Thought I would eat just one, but having a second one right now!

  7. I’ve made scones many times before, but not with starter, so I gave this recipe a try. The batter was too goopy to ‘knead a few times’ and I had to add more flour at that stage. Came out a bit more cakey than I’d like. This recipe has a time saving use of the food processor, but I think I’ll go back to mixing in the butter by hand. Slower, but I think I get a better texture. Not the perfect scone recipe for me, but I’m glad I tried it.

  8. This recipe is solid. I made them with dried cranberries and orange zest. I needed a little less liquid than called for, but that can depend on the day. They were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, just as a scone should be. They need more salt, though. Next time, I’ll use a little more salt in the dry mixture and salted butter. Thanks for sharing!

    • I made the same recipe (zest of one orange – next time I’ll do two – and dried cranberries) and completely agree with all your comments. I used salted butter and the 1/2 tsp salt, but next time I’m trying a full tsp salt with the salted butter. Also the dough was wet, so I had to add more dustings of flour. The scones were crisp on the outside and light and flaky on the inside. I baked 20 minutes instead of 12-15.

  9. These are the best scones I’ve ever had/made! My two boys (3 & 5) were able to help with the simple recipe. We used soy milk because we didn’t have any heavy whipping cream, and they still came out delicious. Added 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp cinnamon, and dried cranberries. My three year old took one bite and declared he wants to eat them all day, every day.

    As a side note, they took a bit longer to cook – more like 15-18 minutes. We will absolutely be making them again!

  10. I tried these today and they were delicious ! I made them.with gluten free discard and gf flour !! Took a little longer than 20 mins ,but surely yummy !! Thank u

    • Hello! This scone recipe looks great! Just curious if I would be able to ferment the dough before baking since my husband is gluten sensitive. Have you ever done a long ferment on these scones before?

      • I have. I made them the night before and kept in the fridge. Baked them straight from there and it actually helped them rise more instead of spread.

  11. Some of the best scones ever – quick to make and a fantastic way to use up discard! Didn’t bother with using food processor; used a pastry blender instead. Turned oven down to 410 and baked for 16-19 minutes. Great!

  12. I baked these for my Mother’s Day breakfast and was very pleased. My add-ins were; sweet ginger bits, dried cranberries and toasted pecans. I froze them unbaked the day before and defrosted briefly before baking. We didn’t need any embellishments like butter or jam. They were perfect.

  13. Made today with dried cherries, walnuts and half’n half instead of cream. They are wonderful! Can’t wait to try more combinations. I also had to bake them a bit longer.

  14. I baked these today with blueberries. Loved them, but they were more biscuitty tasting than scone. Still very light, fluffy and definitely delicious.

  15. These are a perfect use for discard! So quick and easy, and absolutely delicious! Light and fluffy with a pleasant crunch; very slightly sweet, perfect with coffee. I’ve made them with ginger and chocolate and ginger and cherries. I also baked them longer than prescribed, about 18 minutes.

  16. Great recipe. I didn’t have whipping cream for the scones so thinned out my no fat Greek yogurt and brushed tops with 1% milk and they taste great.
    hope they freeze well as it made 8 large scones and only two at home to eat them since we can’t share with friends right now.

  17. Great recipe, great results! I put some white chocolate chips and orange zest, vanilla in my sourdough discard…. Cooked nearly 30 minutes at 375. Excellent!

  18. Just made these but worth whole wheat flour, salted butter, and 10% cream, as that’s what I have. Added raisins and poppy seeds. Cooked 20 minutes. They were so delicious! BUT: maybe because of the flour I used, they were too sticky and needed a bit extra flour to knead. They were also more doughy than a scone usually is.
    I enjoyed every bite.

  19. Ok: this was just AWESOME! I have tried many discard recipes, and this recipe, hands down, was the best. Quick, not fussy, and love the versatility of adding whatever mix-ins one has available. My mix-in (this time around): a very generous cup of diced dried pineapple, diced crystallized ginger and chocolate chips.
    Did I mention how much I lOVE this recipe??? 🙂

  20. 3:52 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation
    These are so good and easy! This was my first time baking scones of any kind, the ingredients are simple and I generally have them on hand so that’s an automatic win. I brushed with coconut oil and a couple sprinkles of sugar, and mixed with mini chocolate chips.

    Delicious! The next batch will be blueberry with lemon zest…!!

  21. This recipe for scones is absolutely delicious! I’m new to using a sourdough starter and hate to throw away the discard. I didn’t mix in any add-ins, used buttermilk instead of cream, and they were incredibly buttery, light, and flaky! This is a definite keeper recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  22. Just made a batch with Italian seasoning, dried tomatoes, and shredded blend of Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago. Smell heavenly!

  23. I make these all the time. In a convection oven they take longer…15-20 minutes. I ‘ve added…dried blueberries…dried cranberries…rosemary…nuts, and I switch out cream for buttermilk to reduced the calories. Today, I’m trying thyme with lemon rind. EVERYONE loves them no matter what I put in them. Great recipe

  24. As like previous comments, it took a little longer to bake. I added dried cranberries and walnuts, cashew milk instead of cream, turned out great – delicious!

  25. the texture is too bread like. it is fluffy, but a little tough. next time, i would try not kneading like the instructions say, and just dropping by spoonfuls to bake..

  26. I used buttermilk instead of cream, adding 3/4 tsp of baking soda.
    Rehydrated dried cherries And added choc chips.
    Needed more baking time.
    Amazingly delicious,

  27. These are wonderful! I tried another sourdough scone recipe, and was disappointing. But I had a cup of (ripe) started I did not want to go to waste, so I gave this recipe a try. So glad I did!! I made mine vegan with miyokos butter and freshly made almond milk instead of the cream, along with raisins and pecans. Like others, they took a little longer in the oven then listed, but once out, they are a little crisp on the outside and nice and fluffy inside. Will be making these again!

  28. I made these with chocolate chips. I’m not a baker and they came out very good. I did have a problem with the parchment paper sticking to the bottom of the scones. Any advise on why that might have happened?

  29. So good and simple!! First time scone baker here and they came out really lovely. Used dark choc chips and almond slivers, needed a little more cream that was was called for and baking time was ~20 mins at least?? House smells heavenly!! Super light taste, beautiful texture, WILL MAKE AGAIN!!

    • Hi Meredith!

      Thanks so much for reaching out! If you are using frozen or fresh fruit, there is a risk that the excess moisture will make the scones soggy–or soggy in parts. If you do decide to try it, pat any moisture off of the fruit with a paper towel. Then, toss the fruit in flour to coat it before adding to the mix. (Shake off excess flour). Happy baking!

  30. Delicious…I’ve made a few varities- dark chocolate chunks, dried mixed fruit, also with blueberries. Next, I’m going to try pumpkin. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  31. My go-to recipe! I make these on a weekly basis! Current favorite add ins – orange zest, cranberries, and white chocolate chips. So yummm!!

  32. When is sourdough starter discard best to use, at the beginning (day 3 ) of the starter process or later (day 6-7) when it would be more concentrated with probiotics? Also, how and where do I store each day’s discard for later use? In a closed jar in the fridge? Thank you!

    • Hi Amaronee,
      What an interesting question! I will try to dig deep into my food science background, but to be honest, you would need a laboratory to accurately measure probiotic activity. Just speaking from general knowledge, the culture grows logarithmically in the presence of nutrients– that’s when you see your starter bubbling and growing in volume. The culture then reaches a stationary period once the nutrients in the medium are depleted, so the cultures would be more plentiful and active between the logarithmic and the stationary phase. Also, something to keep in mind– once you bake the scones, you are deactivating the probiotics, so depending who you speak to, they may not provide the same benefit as if you were to eat active cultures, say as in yogurt or kefir. As for the sourdough discard storage, store in the refrigerator in a jar with a loose-fitted lid. Happy baking!

  33. i’ve made these so many times i love them. made pumpkin spice this week and was worried about the stickiness of the dough but i just added more flour and they were PERFECT 10/10

  34. Like many others I hate to waste sourdough starter so have been looking for recipes using discard. I made these scones for the first time today and I have to say they are without a doubt the best scones I have ever tasted. I used glace Morello cherries for the fruit and the scones were perfect, golden and slightly crunchy on the outside, tender and soft on the inside, not too sweet and with just a hint of sourdough tang. Mine cooked perfectly in 14 minutes at 200c fan. Suffice it to say that from now on I shall be keeping a significantly larger sourdough starter to make sure I have enough discard for making these scones!

    • Hi Karen!

      Thanks so much for reaching out. That is a tough one to say without testing the recipe, but you may want to reduce the cream only slightly and try adding perhaps a tablespoon or two of flour to counteract the “wetness” of the puree.

  35. Excellent recipe. I followed directions exactly, used butterscotch chips, cooked at the instructed temp. I checked at 13 minutes and added another 2. At 15 minutes they were perfect.

    They are light and a bit flaky, sweet, and still taste of the sourdough. I will absolutely be making this again.

  36. I must have done something wrong, because mine were very tough. I’m an experienced Baker and I’m really not sure where I went wrong. (Scratching head)

    • Hi Miriam!

      Thanks for reaching out! I apologize that your scones were tough. We recommend pulling the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork just until moistened, so that the scone dough does not get overworked. If the dough is mixed too rigorously, the gluten will develop and toughen the scones. Once you get to the stage of kneading the dough, you will only want to knead it enough to get a cohesive mass, maybe two to four times, so that the gluten does not develop here either. You also want very cold ingredients (butter, cream, discard, etc), which will slow gluten development as well. We would love to hear your thoughts and continue to troubleshoot with you, so please feel free to reach back out!

  37. Great way to use my discard. I made the scones as directed; just added some vanilla and mini chocolate chips. I also drizzled a glaze of powdered sugar & milk. Can’t wait to experiment with other variations of these scones.

  38. Wow! I am so impressed with these. They were simple, versatile and delicious. Not to mention helped prevent food waste. Mine took about 20 min to bake.

  39. I love this recipe. It was so simple and easy to interchange. I used frozen raspberries and topped with a light almond glaze and they didn’t last a day! My new favorite way to use my sourdough discard

  40. These were an amazing way to use discard! Slightly more chew than a standard scone but in a very pleasant, hearty way! Used whole milk instead and they still turned out beautifully. Visible layers, crunchy top, soft center. Baked in a standard oven for 21 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Lovely!!

  41. Had really high hopes for this recipe, but I think baker’s error got in the way :(( Followed the recipe to a t and wound up with a super sticky dough and a near 20 minute bake (still under baked!) and had to put it back in for another 10. Based off of the other comments, I assume this was a grave error on my end, so I will try again and hope for better results!

  42. The wet dough spread too much in the oven. Baked 20 minutes. Although I barely mixed with a fork these turned out much too chewy for a scone.
    Maybe too much discard? If I make again I’ll cut back to half which is in line with many discard baking recipes. Dried cranberries and orange zest mix in we’re a good choice.

  43. This is my first batch of sour dough. So with my discard I made these scones with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. They are wonderful and I and my husband love them.

    I looked at the recipe again but I didn’t see any calories. Does anybody know? Thanks again for such a wonderful recipe!

  44. Up until I made these, crackers were my favorite way to use up the discard. I found a new favorite, thank you so much for sharing this versatile recipe. My mix-ins were chopped pecans and orange zest. I baked them 15 minutes and I could have baked them longer, but they were golden on the top and bottom and soft (not the scone texture I am used to) in the middle. I will definitely have another “go” at this recipe with different mix-ins.

  45. Super recipe i divided the dough in two and then added cheese and black olives to 1/2 and then walnuts and white chocolate chips to the other, fantastic! Thanks for publishing this recipe i will be baking them again soon!!!!

  46. YUM! This recipe is so good and a great way to use my extra starter. I have made a sweet batch with chocolate chips in it and a savory batch that had cheddar, scallions, and bacon. Both types turned out amazing! I did need to use a good amount of flour when rolling them out or they were way too sticky to shape.

  47. Wow! First time and it was yummyyy! Agreed with the longer baking times (I did 16-19) but holy moly those were such a win! The flavor and texture were delish. Highly recommend a combo of chocolate chip and cranberries.

  48. Nice recipe. Scones were crispy brown on outside, tender on inside.
    Baked in 425 degree convection oven for 13 min.

    Subs, add-ins, & additions:
    Fat free evaporated milk instead of cream
    ~2T Dried tangerine zest (from my failed tangerine crop last year)
    1/2c chopped Orange flavored dried cranberries from Trader Joe’s
    Finished cooled scones with a swipe of frosting made from evaporated milk & powdered sugar.

  49. So thrilled to be able to use my “discard” and to use it on something delicious is even better! The dough was absolutely as described, kneadable and light. The final product is crunchy on the outside and wonderfully tender inside. We’ve had scones in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England as well as here at home. These are contenders.

  50. I followed this recipe exactly and it did not turn into a dough. It was extremely wet and was like batter. Had to toss. Will try a different recipe.

  51. Definitely an extremely wet dough, was hard to divide it with even a floured knife..and was hard to transfer to a baking sheet without ruining the shape. I added flour as I needed and got through it…however, these are delicious and I love the texture.. more of a muffin texture than a crumbly scone texture but who cares. I added frozen blueberries and I did let the mixture sit for 30 minutes before shaping. Like most of the other comments I also baked for 20 mins

  52. I have made these twice now to confirm it wasn’t a fluke! Best scones I ever ate. Can’t wait to get some dried cherries and try as intended.
    I made the two sets with lemon and orange zest (respectively) and dried cranberries.
    I used Greek yogurt since I didn’t have buttermilk. Mmmmmm. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  53. Kneadability improved when reduced sourdough starter to 225 g (instead of 275 g); baked through with good caramelization with baking time of 30 minutes (instead of 12-15). Splash of almond extract enhanced flavor of dried Montmorency cherries.

  54. Possibly the best scones I’ve ever made.. Followed the recipe exactly with just 2 tiny adjustments: I used slightly more salt (2.5g), and added 1.5 tbsp whole milk (3.8%) to the dough.

    I made my dough in a stand mixer, used 35% milk fat non-homogenised cream, and my sourdough discard was a levain at 80% hydration with 20% whole wheat that I used 3 days ago.

    For anyone with really wet dough, bear in mind the hydration and flour you have in your discard will affect the wetness of the dough, so add or remove cream as needed based on that!

  55. Possibly the best scones I’ve ever made.. Followed the recipe exactly with just 2 tiny adjustments: I used slightly more salt (2.5g), and added 1.5 tbsp whole milk (3.8%) to the dough.

    I made my dough in a stand mixer, used 35% milk fat non-homogenised cream, and my sourdough discard was a levain at 80% hydration with 20% whole wheat that I used 3 days ago.

    For anyone with really wet dough, bear in mind the hydration and flour you have in your discard will affect the wetness of the dough, so add or remove cream as needed based on that!

  56. Best scones ever! Usually I have some sort of scone curse, and every recipe I try results in dry bricks of dense dough that give me a stomach ache after I eat them anyway.

    These came out perfectly: crispy on the outside but light and scone-y on the inside. I used 2% milk because that’s all I had, and I did add about half a cup of flour since my sourdough starter was pretty liquid. I used my stand mixer and added about a cup of frozen whole cranberries to the dry ingredients. The dough was a little sticky for shaping, so I simply scooped out cup sized balls and spaced out on the parchment paper… but they came out looking normal. Because of the size I baked for 25 mins.

    Next time I would add some lemon zest and lemon juice to the batter, but they’re honestly amazing without too! Thank so much for the recipe.

  57. Great recipe that made a nice, fluffy scone. It reminded me of southern biscuits, but a bit more scone-like. I avoided handling the dough as much as possible when adding the wet ingredients: I used a spoon to gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stopped as soon as the dry ingredients were mostly incorporated. The dough was really wet but held its shape, though it was too sticky to use my hands, so to pat into a circle, I had to dust with a lot of flour. I then refrigerated the dough for about 10 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces, and then chilled them in the freezer for about 20 minutes while I preheated the oven. Baked for about 18 minutes and they came out great. Very nice use of my sourdough discard; will definitely make this recipe again! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  58. Thanks to other reviewers for the warnings about too much liquid. I used 254 total grams liquid (keeping the cream amount intact and cutting down discard because I thought the tang level was good where it was.). Mine came out with a beautifully crisp crust and soft inside. This would be a spectacular base for a savory scone/cheese scone. I’m usually a scone purist and don’t so much as add currants, but the tang of these is calling to me for savory mix-ins.

  59. I love this recipe! I made blueberry scones and they are the perfect combination of sweet and tangy. I ended up adding about an extra half cup -a cup of flour, and baked for an extra 5 minutes and they came out so scrumptious. This recipe is something I’ll be doing again. The dough is a bit stickier than the recipe makes it out to be I just added more dry ingredients when necessary .

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