Lesson 13: Sourdough Biscuits

Makes 8 biscuits

Sourdough biscuits pair equally well with a plate of eggs or a bowl of soup. Keep in mind that the extent to which sourdough adds personality to these biscuits depends on how much you add: more sourdough means more sour tang. While the recipe calls for ¼ cup, you can safely incorporate from 1/8 cup to ½ cup of sourdough starter. You may need to increase or decreasethe quantity of salt to accommodate the change.


1-1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for step 7
1-½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon maple crystals
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into chunks
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup (2 ounces) sourdough starter
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Up to 24 hours before you want to bake the biscuits, place the flours, salt, and maple crystals into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5-7 times to combine the ingredients.
  2. Add the butter, and pulse several times until well mixed, ideally retaining some small chunks of butter.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and add the buttermilk and sourdough starter. Using a spatula, fold the ingredients from the edge of the bowl into the middle. Rotate the bowl with each fold until the mixture is evenly moist and sticky. There may be some remaining dry patches, but aim for as few as possible.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake—for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
  5. Before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and butter an 8″ x 10″ baking dish. Sprinkle cornmeal over the bottom of the dish.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and add the baking powder and baking soda to the bowl, using your hands to work them into the dough. The idea is to fully integrate the baking powder and baking soda.
  7. Place the dough onto a lightly-floured counter top. Dust your hands with flour and gently ease the dough into a rectangle. With a bench scraper or a sharp knife, cut the dough in half and stack one half on top of the other. Repeat 3 more times: flattening the dough into a rectangle, cutting, and stacking.
  8. Transfer the dough to the baking dish and, using your fingertips, gently press it to fill the dish completely. Because the dough will be cold, it may spring back as you try to shape it. It can help to rest the dough for 5-10 minutes and then resume shaping until the dough is evenly thick in all places. Using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 rectangles.
  9.  Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.
  10. Cool on a rack and serve gently warm.


  • Although the white flour in this recipe imparts a noticeable lightness and tenderness to the finished biscuits, you can use all whole-wheat pastry flour if you like. In this case, you may want to increase the quantity of salt just slightly.
  • Consider adding up to ¼ cup chopped chives, ¼ cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese, or ¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese to the dough with the baking powder and baking soda in step 6.

Copyright 2014, Ellen Arian, Ellen’s Food & Soul