Sourdough marble muffins

sourdough muffins with beautiful high domes

My relationship with sweet muffins can mostly be filed under the heading “disasters”. For years, I have  been looking for a muffin recipe that produced those beautiful domed muffins you usually buy at the bakery.  The results are usually either flat cup-cake like things or mini volcanos that spell oven the pan and the oven and result in hours of scrubbing and occasional cursing.

That chapter in my baking adventure finally came to an end this month with the sourdough surprises challenge.

For this month’s sourdough surprises, we were challenged to use our creativity and convert our favorite quick bread or muffin recipe into a sourdough recipe. I have a marble cake recipe which I love. I decided to convert it to sourdough and push the limit a little and play with it and turn it into marble muffins. It took a lot of reading and researching and staying glued to the oven while the muffins baked ready to intervene if the muffins decided to spell all over my oven.

The muffins did not spell or spread, on the contrary, they rose into beautiful round high domes.  Not only did they look great, they tasted heavenly and I think it is because of the starter in them, they did not go stale for days. I have noticed this very same effect in sourdough bread. It can go for days and days without going stale. The kids loved them with tea and took them to school neatly packed in their lunch boxes. So these muffins check all the boxes 🙂

If you don’t have your own sourdough starter, you can use my tutorial to get one. It is much easier than you think and having a sourdough starter opens up a world of yummy options. Just check out my sourdough recipe category if you need a little more encouragement. Now let’s get back to the topic of the day.

Marble muffins made with sourdough and olive oil

How to convert a regular quick bread recipe into a sourdough recipe?

Before I answer that question I think there is another question that begs for an answer.

Why should I ? Why should I mess with my favorite quick bread recipe and convert it into sourdough?

As I explained before when I shared my sourdough English muffins recipe. Using a sourdough starter makes your baked goods more digestible and more nutritious too. The acids in the starter make the vitamins and minerals in the flour more available to the body. The acids also slow down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood-stream and lower the muffin’s glycaemic index (GI), so it doesn’t cause undesirable spikes in insulin. They also render the gluten in the flour more digestible and less likely to cause food intolerance.

The Formula

This would be easiest if you maintain a starter at 100% hydration (which means you feed your starter equal amounts of flour and water at every feeding). A starter at 100% is 50% flour and 50% water. Meaning 1 cup of starter would contain half a cup of water and half a cup of flour. You can use that knowledge to convert your recipe from regular quick bread or muffin to sourdough.

You do however have to keep in mind that sourdough is acidic and it will affect the chemistry of your recipe so it would work best in recipes that already contain an acidic component like buttermilk or yogurt.

The formula that I have found to work best is to replace 1/4 cup of the flour and 1/4 cup of the liquid with 1/2 a cup of sourdough starter.

For example my recipe called for

2 cups of flour,

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 cup of orange juice.

I replaced 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of the yogurt with 1/2 cup of sourdough starter.That way I ended up using

1 and 3/4 cups of flour

1/4 cup of yogurt

1/2 cup of sourdough starter

I also replaced the butter in the recipe with olive oil and exchanged the baking powder for baking soda.

To wait or not to wait

Next comes the question, should I wait or not. You actually have two options here

You can combine the flour, yogurt and sourdough the night before and leave them to culture on the counter. The next morning add the rest of the ingredients. This way you will get the maximum sourdough tang and extra rise from the sourdough so I would consider reducing the amount of the baking soda a little.

Your other option if you want your quick bread to be baked right away, is to simply skip the fermentation step. This way you won’t get as much sourdough tang and you will mainly rely on the baking soda for rise with little help from the starter.

I chose to allow my batter to culture for 3 hours because I did want the benefits of the sourdough but I did not want it to be too tangy for the kids.

Below you will find the original recipe and my new sourdough recipe.

My favorite marble cake recipe

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup yogurt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs

zest of one orange or lemon

2 tablespoon coco powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

sourdough marble muffins

Sourdough marble muffin recipe

1 and 3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup yogurt

1/2 cup (135 grams) sourdough starter at 100% hydration

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

zest of one lemon or orange

1 teaspoon baking soda

zest of one orange or lemon

2 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules (optional)


Oil and flour your muffin tin

Preheat the oven to 195 C

Combine the flour, yogurt and starter in a bowl.

Allow to culture for 3 hours (this step is optional and can be skipped)

Add the eggs, vanilla,sugar, orange juice and oil to your food processor or to a bowl and mix until you get a pale yellow color.

Add the flour, yogurt and starter mix , the baking soda, zest and blend until combined (do not over mix)

Divide the batter in half

To one half add the coco powder, cardamom, cinnamon and coffee, if using and blend until you get a homogeneous color

Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to fill your muffin pan with one scoop plain batter and one scoop chocolate batter filling the tin 3/4 of the way. Use a tooth pick or wooden skewer to swirl the two batters together

filling the pan

Place the pan  into the oven and increase the temperature to 205 degrees.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

High domed muffins

Remove from oven and turn out, upside down on tea towel to cool completely.

cool muffins

Admire your domed muffins

High domed muffin recipe

Serve immediately or store in airtight container.


  • There are a few notes that will help you get beautiful high domed muffins

Your batter needs to be thick

Your oven temperature needs to be high, preheat the oven to 195 then when you place the muffins raise the temperature to 205

Fill your tins 3/4 of the way up.

  • I usually add cardamom and cinnamon to any chocolate cake or cookie, I love the spice chocolate combo. You don’t taste the spices as strong flavors, they are simple hints of spice that make the cake extra special
  • The addition of coffee is to intensify the chocolate flavor. Again, you don’t taste it in the baked muffins, it just ,makes the chocolate more intense

Amazing muffins made with sourdough starter