These sourdough discard doughnut holes are a delicious and easy treat– for breakfast or dinner! Crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, and with just a hint of sourdough and cinnamon. They’re also extremely versatile; you can dip them in chocolate sauce, coat them in powdered sugar, or even stuffed them with your favorite jam or filling. Let’s get baking!
frequently asked questions
Q: Can I use Instant Yeast instead of Active Dry?
A: Of course! If using instant yeast, you can skip step 1 and combine all of the wet ingredients (milk, starter, yeast, eggs, butter, and vanilla) and then add in the dry ingredients– no need to proof the yeast.
Q: What’s a dough whisk?
A: A dough whisk, aka: a Danish dough hook or a dough whisk, is a tool used for mixing stiff doughs. It typically has two interlocking circles and makes bread-making so much easier! If you work with doughs a lot, I highly recommend getting one. They’re typically hard to find in stores but readily available on the internet.
Q: Why does the dough have to rise twice?
A: The first bulk rise is to aerate the dough as a whole. Next, we shape the dough which deflates it and tightens the gluten structure. The second rise allows the dough time to build up the air we deflated during shaping but it also smooths out the dough so you get beautiful, fluffy doughnuts!
Q: Do I have to fry the doughnuts? Can I bake them?
A: I’ve never tried baking these doughnuts so if you do, please let me know how they turn out! When I indulge in a treat like doughnuts, I want the full crunch on the outside so I opt for frying.
Q: I don’t have a sourdough starter. What can I do?
A: If you don’t have a sourdough starter you can leave it out of this recipe and reduce the flour by 1/4 cup (so 2 cups of flour rather than 2 + 1/4). This recipe will work just as well without the discard. If you’d like to make a starter, check out my Shortcut Sourdough Starter post.
Q: What is “100% hydration discard”?
A: 100% hydration refers to the ratio of water to flour in your starter. In this case, 100% means the starter is composed of equal parts flour and water. If you work with a starter that is not 100% hydration, listen to the dough as you knead. Higher hydrations (>100%) may require a bit more flour while lower hydrations (<100%) will require a bit more milk. Discard refers to the state of the starter– in this case discard means unfed. I keep a jar of discard in the fridge and pull it out for recipes like this.
What you’ve been waiting for… the recipe!
Sourdough Discard Doughnut Holes
- ½ cup warm milk
- 2 tbsp + ½ cup sugar separated
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup 100% hydration sourdough discard
- 2+ 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp butter melted
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Heat the milk until warm (100-100°F). Add 2 tbsp of sugar, the yeast, and the sourdough discard. Stir to combine and then allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
- Once the yeast has become foamy on top, add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and whisk to combine.
- Next, add the four and salt. Stir them with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. All of the flour may not incorpoate entirely but most of it should. You can dump the reamining flour onto your work surface and it will become incorporated when you start kneading.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth– about 5 minutes.
- Oil the bowl lightly and place the dough back into the bowl. Allow it to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.
- After an hour, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface again and roll it out to ½” thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut the dough into your desired doughnut size. If you prefer traditional doughtnut size, use a 2" cutter. For doughnut holes, I opt for a 1" cutter. If you want your douhgnuts to be perfect circles, you can roll them in your hands to form a ball.
- Place the doughnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover them with a clean dish towel. Let them rise for another 45 minutes, or until doubled in size again.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pan or cast iron dutch oven with about 2” of oil. When the oil reaches 350°F, cook the doughnuts for about 45 seconds per side. The exact cook time will depend on the size of your doughnuts but they are finished when they are a deep golden brown on all sides. Make sure not to crowd the pan– the doughnuts need plenty of room to move around.
- Combine the remaining ½ cup sugar and ½ tsp cinnamon in a large bowl. Remove the doughnuts from the oil (make sure to let any excess oil drip off) and toss them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Enjoy!