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  • Michele Genest

Sourdough Bootcamp Day Fourteen

Updated: May 21, 2020

Sourdough Cinnamon Buns, the last day of bootcamp, and care and feeding of the starter

Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

Hi everyone! I hope you are still feeling the sourdough love. Some of you have made bread already, some of you are carefully nursing your starter along until it comes up to speed. I hope it will do so very soon.

These past two weeks have been epic. At one time I had three different starters going and one litre of sourdough discard bubbling over in the fridge. On Day Twelve I went a bit crazy, baking one pan of gingerbread, two basic loaves and four ciabatta, following the recipe at sourdoughandolives, one of my favourite sites.

Now things are slowly returning to normal. All my starters have been amalgamated into one, and the jar of discard is empty.

I'm going to take a break from baking for a few days--after Sourdough Cinnamon Buns, of course--but I'll still be posting sourdough recipes from time to time, and will still be checking my inbox for questions. The whole of bootcamp will be up on my website indefinitely.

Thank you so much for coming along on this journey. I wish you many years of baking with your newly built starter, and I look forward to seeing pictures of your breads and baked goods on social media.

Before we get to the Sourdough Cinnamon Bun recipe, here are just a few tips on how to live with your starter.

Care and Feeding of the Starter

As you now know, starter must be fed before it can be used; starter is at its strongest anywhere from 4 to 12 hours after feeding (though mine seems to be ready at 6 to 8 hours). Though every baker has a slightly different formula, the basic method is to measure the amount you have and add twice that amount each of flour and warm water, for a ratio of 1:2:2.

After a few days in the fridge, the starter goes dormant. In the dormant stage, there will be a cream-coloured paste on the bottom with a clear liquid on top. Sometimes the liquid turns blackish-brown. This liquid is “hooch” in the vernacular, contains alcohol as its name suggests, and can be poured off or stirred back in for extra sourness.

At least 8 to 12 hours before you plan to start a recipe, feed the starter and leave the mixture out in a warm place, in a glass, pottery, or stainless steel container, loosely covered. In the morning return what you don’t need for the recipe to the fridge for the next time.

Try to feed your starter and use it once a week, but if you can’t, don’t sweat it too much. When life or holidays intervene, extend the feeding period to 24 hours before you start a recipe to bring the starter back to life.

You’ll find that every baker has different instructions on how often to feed the starter and what to do after it has been dormant for a while. Ione Christensen likes her starter to have a few days to come back to life. Nancy Silverton suggests that for up to a week of dormancy, you bring your starter to room temperature and then feed it three times the day before using it; if more than a week, feed it three times a day for three days before baking. You will find the method that works best for you.

This is also a good time to dry some starter to have on hand in case the starter goes bad, and to bring on hikes or canoe trips. Spread a cup of starter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dry at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, peel off the flakes and store in a plastic container or zip-lock bag.

To reconstitute dried starter, measure the volume of the starter and stir it into the same volume of warm water and dissolve. Measure what you have and add flour and warm water in the usual 1:2:2 ratio. It should be ready to go in about 12 hours, but might not be up to full strength until you’ve used and fed it a few more times.

For those of you in damp climates, simply freeze your extra starter. When you’re ready to use it again, thaw and bring to room temperature before feeding.

Now, to the last recipe of Sourdough Boot Camp

Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

This recipe takes about 36 hours from start to finish. The watchword here is patience: the first rising can take anywhere from four to eight hours. The second rising is much faster, from two to three hours; be vigilant starting at two hours to ensure the rolls don’t over-proof.

Sourdough Cinnamon Buns with wild low bush cranberries, ready for baking

Ingredients and Instructions

Eight to 12 hours before you plan to start the recipe, remove your dormant starter from the refrigerator and feed it flour and water in a ratio of 1:2:2, starter:flour:water.

Remove all the starter except what you need for the recipe and return it to the fridge for next time.

Day 1, morning

Feed the now-active starter:

2.5 oz/70 gr (¼ cup) starter

2.5 oz/70 gr (½ cup) all-purpose flour

3.5 oz/100 gr (½ cup) warm water

Day 1, evening

Add to starter:

5.5 oz/160 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

8 oz/220 g (1 cup) warm water

Let sit overnight, loosely covered.

Day 2, morning

Assemble and bring to room temperature:

2 oz/56 g (¼ cup) butter

4 oz/110 g (½ cup) granulated sugar

2 eggs

3½ oz/105 g (½ cup) buttermilk or yogurt

21 oz/615 g (about 4 cups) all-purpose flour

½ oz/12 g (1.5 tsp) salt

  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in buttermilk and sourdough starter until thoroughly combine.

  2. Add three-quarters of the flour and mix thoroughly.

  3. Add the rest of the flour gradually, during the mixing stage. If you’re using a mixer, change from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 7 to 8 minutes. The dough may pull away from the sides of the bowl, but not the bottom. Let the dough rest for 15 to 20 minutes, in the bowl, covered with a tea towel, then add the salt and knead again for 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. If you’re mixing by hand keep your hands and the surface lightly floured. When you get to adding the final portion of flour, mix in the bowl for as long as you can, then flour your hands and the work surface lightly, tip the dough onto the surface and knead for 8 minutes, keeping a scraper handy to help lift the dough if it sticks to the counter. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes, covered, then knead again, sprinkling the salt over the dough and incorporating it as you go.

  5. By the time you’re finished kneading the dough should be quite tacky, but shouldn’t stick fiercely to your hands and the work surface.

  6. Oil a glass, pottery or stainless steel bowl, lower the dough into the bowl and flip it so the surface is well-oiled. Cover with a towel and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk. This could be anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.

In the meantime, make the filling.

Sourdough Cinnamon Filling with wild low bush cranberries. If you're using berries, don't mix them in with the rest of the filling but scatter them over top once filling is spread onto dough


½ cup butter

1½ cups brown sugar

3 Tbsp 35% cream

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup currants or raisins *(if you're adding berries, don't mix them in with the rest of the ingredients; they will make the mixture too wet. Reserve the berries to sprinkle over the filling once the filling is spread out on the dough.)

¼ cup butter for brushing over the buns after baking

  1. Melt the butter and add the remaining ingredients, mixing well.

  2. Cook briefly over medium heat, then remove from heat, cool and beat to a good spreading consistency: not too runny. You want it to sit on the dough, not run off.

Rolling out the Dough

  1. When the dough has doubled, place it between two pieces of lightly-floured parchment paper and roll out into a rectangle about 16 inches by 20 inches (40 cm by 50 cm).

  2. Spread the filling over the dough to within an inch of each edge. Press the filling lightly into the dough. (If you are using berries, now is the time to sprinkle them over the filling.)

  3. Roll dough up tightly, starting at a long side, and seal the edge by pinching slightly. Slice evenly into 15 slices, and place on a baking sheet or roasting pan lined with parchment paper.

  4. The dough will be quite floppy and you’ll have to manipulate the pieces into a roundish shape. A baker’s scraper is a handy tool for slicing the dough then lifting it onto the tray. You can improvise with a thick-bladed knife and a spatula.

  5. Let rise again until nearly doubled, 2 to 3 hours. Preheat oven to 400F (205C).

  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes; you might need to place a tray under your baking tray to catch drips. (I’ve started a couple of oven fires with dripping filling.)

  7. When the buns come out of the oven brush their tops immediately with ¼ cup butter.

Cool on the tray for 20 minutes, then move buns, parchment paper and all, onto a rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

The rolls are delicious with no topping at all, but if you really want to gild the lily, spread them with birch or maple syrup glaze:

Birch or Maple Syrup Glaze

3 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp birch syrup

3 Tbsp 35% cream

Melt the butter, stir in the birch syrup and cream and cook over low heat, stirring often, for two to three minutes. Drizzle or spread with a pastry brush over the cooled cinnamon buns. The glaze will harden somewhat as it cools.

Makes 15 cinnamon buns.

And there you have it. Enjoy your cinnamon buns. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment!

And we'll see you out there on the sourdough trail.

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B M.
B M.
Apr 27, 2020

Michelle....Thank you for “The Bootcamp”. Everyday has been interesting. I’m indebted to José for pointing me in your direction. I thought you had multiple starters going based upon your photo. Fun to see you talking about them today.

I was able to get raisins at our market this morning. Still no yeasts, but surprised to see all the dish cleaner shelves bare, all of that section.......empty. A few bags of various flours (I don’t need any) but still no dark rye flour.

My Starter seems to have slowed down. Seems ok, smells good, but not as active as it was. With that in mind I'm begining another one using raisins. That should be interesting. Your comments about reawakening starter …

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