Sourdough bread is one of the easiest recipes to make at home, and it's also one of the most customizable. If you're not feeling like a basic loaf today, here are some ideas for flavoring your sourdough bread with a variety of sourdough mix-ins and sourdough flavorings.
With this list of 18 sourdough mix-ins and flavor ideas, you'll be able to make your sourdough anything from savory to sweet, depending on your mood. Just add one or two of these tasty ingredients to your sourdough, and watch it take on a whole new life!
Sourdough Flavors: Limitations And Tips
Flavoring your sourdough is a wonderful way to add some extra excitement to your bread. However, there are a few things you should know before you start experimenting.
Don't Overdo Your Add-Ins! Less Is More:
Firstly, don't overdo it! We know you might be tempted to really pile on the flavorings. But too much can cause your dough to separate. Enhancing your dough with vanilla extract and mixing in cocoa powder, for example, is OK because both ingredients have a neutral effect on the dough itself.
However, if you plan on adding nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips into your dough, remember that they will soak up water and grow during proofing. Plus, you don't want to use so much that these extra ingredients weigh down the dough and cause it to separate or not rise properly.
It's hard to say exactly, but you should be able to add about 20% of your total flour weight in mix-ins. For example, if your total flour weight is 1kg, you can add about 200g of mix-ins, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, cheeses, etc.; but of course, your experience may vary depending on the ingredients you choose.
Balance Salt & Sugar When Including Extra Ingredients:
If you're adding extra ingredients to your sourdough bread, be sure to balance salt and sugar. These two ingredients can work together to change the texture of the final product.
Natural sugar (found in fruits, veggies, etc.) will feed the yeasts in your sourdough starter, which will speed up the fermentation process and make your loaf more tangy and chewy. But if you want a milder flavor and a softer texture, then you'll need to slow down the fermentation process.
Secondly, if you’re adding roasted nuts to your sourdough dough, the salt content may become too much to handle. That’s because nuts are naturally salty on their own—and if you add roasted nuts, they can make the overall flavor of your finished loaf really salty.
The salt may alsoinhibit the yeast from its reproductive activities. So adding too much salt to your dough is not recommended.
Balance Hydration With Sourdough Flavorings:
Sourdough is a living culture—and like any living organism, it's sensitive to changes in its environment. So when you're tossing add-ins into your dough, it's important to be aware of how that might affect the overall hydration of your dough, and lower the water content to compensate. Here are a few notes to remember:
- When you're using fresh fruits and vegetables that release water into your dough, it can be hard to know how much water you should use. We recommend starting with a dough that has around65% hydration. This will give you a good base for adding other things like peaches, oranges, mangoes, etc. You can then adjust the amount of water in your recipe accordingly.
- You can also add fresh fruits during folding or just before shaping the dough. This will reduce the amount of water they release into the dough.
- However, If you are adding dried fruits or nuts to your dough, add a bit more water to the dough to compensate for the moisture that will be drawn from the dough by these ingredients. You want your dough to remain soft and supple after fermentation, not dry and firm.
- Next, if you're adding purees to your dough, be sure to adjust the hydration of your flour. You can do this by adding water to the puree and then measuring out the flour you need to add, or you can remove water from the puree in another way (for example, by wringing it out in a kitchen towel).
- Lastly, if you're using juice (like carrot juice), try to use it in place of all your water rather than just half of it!
Sourdough Add-Ins Before Or After Shaping:
When you're making bread, it's tempting to just add all the flavorings at the end—but that's not always the best way to do things. To get the most out of your ingredients, you want to make sure they're evenly distributed throughout the dough. This will make every bite as delicious as possible.
Here's a quick guide to the best ways to get your mix-ins into your dough:
- Adding mix-ins during the first stage of mixing is a great choice for when you're using a powder, such as raw cacao or even coffee, because it helps those powders dissolve and evenly distribute throughout your dough.
- For raisins, other chopped nuts, fruit, and chocolate chips, we recommend adding them during the early stages of rising (after the first fold).
- Seeds can be added at different stages. They can be mixed into your dough before it's shaped into a loaf or go on top of your final product before baking. The choice is up to you.
In general, the best time to add flavorings is halfway through the stretch and fold stage. At this point, the flavors will be evenly distributed throughout your dough.
Use A Sourdough Recipe:
Finally, use recipes! Baking is an art form—and if you're new to this whole thing, it's best to start with someone else's formula so that you can learn how ingredients interact.
- When adding dried fruits, hard cheese, and nuts to your dough, chop them into very small pieces. Then shape the dough gently, so as not to damage it. You can also grate the cheese if you like.
- Use spices and herbs sparingly to avoid overpowering the bread's natural sourdough flavor.
Always stir or knead gently so you don't break up any large pieces of sourdough add-ins or damage the gluten structure in your dough. This will help keep your bread nice and fluffy!
Sourdough Flavoring & Recipe Ideas
Here are some great sourdough flavor ideas for infusing your sourdough bread with new flavors, as well as some flavor combinations you can use to get started on your own:
Single-Ingredient Mix-Ins Sourdough Flavoring Ideas:
- Raw Walnuts
For a savory, crunchy twist on your favoritesourdough bread recipe, try adding a handful of chopped raw walnuts to the dough. They'll add a delicious crunch and make your bread even more versatile. They're also full ofantioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Mashed Bananas
Mashed bananas make an excellent addition to your sourdough bread. They're a simple way to add sweetness, moisture, and good-for-you potassium, plus a burst of flavor. Just mash up a banana with a fork! This recipe works best withSan Francisco sourdough starter.
- Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great way to give your sourdough a nutty flavor without adding too much fat or calories. They'll give your sourdough an extra dose of crunchy goodness!
- Black Sesame Seeds
Black sesame seeds are an unusual but delicious seed option for your next loaf of sourdough. They're rich in antioxidants and have a distinct earthy taste.
- Dark Chocolate Chips Or Chunks
One of our favorite ways to enjoy chocolate is by adding it to our sourdough bread! Dark chocolate adds more than just sweetness—it's got some serioushealth benefits as well. The antioxidants found in chocolate can help reduce oxidative stress, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and strengthen your immune system. Yum!
- Carrot Juice
If you're looking for an alternative way to get your kids to eat vegetables, try adding some carrot juice to your sourdough bread dough instead of water. It's simple and delicious!
- Grated/Shredded Zucchini
If you're looking to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, adding zucchini to your sourdough bread is the way to go. The sourdough adds an earthy flavor that complements the zucchini while giving the bread a hearty, moist texture. Zucchini is also high inVitamin C, Vitamin B6, and potassium. So you're taking in a small amount of a lot of nutrients with this simple addition.
Dried Fruit (Raisins, Cranberries, Prunes, Apricots Etc)
Dried fruit is a great way to add texture, sweetness, and flavor to your sourdough bread. You can use any kind of dried fruit you want—for instance, raisins, cranberries, prunes, apricots, etc. Just chop them up and toss them in the dough!
Two-Ingredient Mix-Ins Sourdough Flavoring Ideas:
- Rosemary And Garlic
Rosemary and garlic are another great option. Both herbs are known to have many health benefits. You can also try adding rosemary and garlic to olive oil and brush it on top of your bread before baking it!
- Raisin And Walnut
This classic flavor combination works well with sourdough. The raisins add a bit of sweetness and texture, while the walnuts add a crunchy texture and a hint of nuttiness. You can also try using other types of dried fruit, like cranberries or apricots, instead of raisins.
- Roasted Garlic And Asiago Cheese
If you're a garlic lover, this recipe is for you. Add some roasted garlic and Asiago cheese to your sourdough bread dough before baking. The result is a rich and savory taste that will leave you coming back for more!
- Cherry And Chocolate
When eaten together, cherries and chocolate complement each other perfectly. If you have access to fresh cherries, try adding some to your dough before baking. If not, dried cherries will work just fine. And if you want to take things up a notch, add some chopped dark chocolate chips just before serving—it's sure to impress everyone!
Pineapple And Coconut
This combination of tropical fruits will give your sourdough a rich, sweet taste that's sure to please any picky eater. You can even add a little bit of coconut milk if you want to make the flavor even more intense.
- Cheddar Cheese And Pickled Jalapeños
If you're not sure what to do with the leftover pickled jalapeños from your last taco night, try adding them to your sourdough bread! They’re a match made in heaven.
- Pumpkin And Honey
This one is easy—just add pumpkin puree and honey to your dough! You can also try adding cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves for a more traditional “pumpkin spice” flavor.
Multiple Ingredients Mix-Ins Sourdough Flavoring Ideas:
- Quinoa, Teff, And Chia Seeds
Quinoa, teff, and chia seeds are a delicious combination. The quinoa will give you some extra protein, and the teff will add some fiber; plus, chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and fiber. Just add it to your dough as usual and bake up this extra delicious healthy bread.
- Dried Figs, Raisins, Walnuts, And Seeds
If you're looking for a unique way to spice up your loaf of bread, try adding dried figs and walnuts to your next batch of sourdough. The figs will add an earthy sweetness that pairs well with the nuttiness of the walnuts, while the raisins add a bit of sweetness as well. You can also add seeds like pumpkin or sunflower seeds if you want!
- Mozzarella, Garlic, And Herbs
Shredded mozzarella cheese, minced garlic cloves, and fresh thyme sprigs will make your sourdough taste like an Italian classic. You can also try adding rosemary or oregano if you're looking for something different.
NOTE:Check out our article “What To Put On Sourdough” for more information about making tasty sourdough meals.
The Takeaways Of Sourdough Flavors:
- Sourdough bread is delicious, but the flavor can be a little plain. Add some of the above sourdough add-ins to your next loaf, and you'll have an incredibly tasty treat.
- You can add lots of different ingredients to sourdough. But it's important to understand how they interact with your starter and the rest of the dough.
- Follow the above tips when adding ingredients to your sourdough bread, and you'll get great results every time.
- Adding extra flavors to sourdough bread can be tricky and may take some trial and error, but with the right instructions, it can be easy!