This Sourdough Discard Apple Pull Apart Bread is like if a cinnamon roll and a pull-apart loaf had a baby (plus, of course, apples)! It is a sweet treat that is fun to make and fun to eat, and it's a great way to use up some of your sourdough discard. The layers pull apart and are great to enjoy as a sweet brunch item, afternoon treat, or dessert loaf!
If you haven't tried it, check out my Sourdough Discard Garlic Pull Apart Bread for a similarly fun recipe that makes a great savory side dish!
Why you'll love this recipe
- The irregularity is part of the charm, so embrace the irregular shapes of the dough and have fun with it! It's also a great recipe to make with young or less-experienced bread bakers as it's very forgiving.
- The layers create a sweet bread from the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture, the apples, and the glaze. A delicious treat that is fun to peel and eat!
- Use your favorite fall apples for the ultimate fall flavor!
- This recipe is a great way to use up some of your sourdough discard. You can also make this recipe with active sourdough starter, if you prefer!
There are only a few key ingredients you'll need to make this Sourdough Discard Apple Pull Apart Bread.
- Non-dairy milk: I like to use unflavored, unsweetened almond milk, but this will work with any unflavored milk of your choice. You can also use regular dairy milk if you prefer.
- Instant yeast: Even though we are using sourdough discard, you will need to use yeast to make the dough rise predictably.
- All-purpose flour: This recipe uses all-purpose flour to make soft, fluffy layers. In a pinch, you could use bread flour, but this would make a crustier bread.
- Sourdough discard: The sourdough discard should be unfed and at room temperature for this recipe. This recipe is designed for a sourdough starter that uses a 1:1:1 ratio (when you feed your starter, it's with 1 part starter, 1 part water, 1 part flour). If your starter uses a different ratio, you may need to adjust some of the ingredients in this recipe.
- Apple: You will use one apple diced into small pieces for this recipe. It's important that it's a small dice as apple chunks that are too large will not bake as well, will hold more moisture (making it harder for your bread to bake fully), and will make it harder for your finished loaf to hold together. More on the best types of apples for baking below!
- Powdered sugar: The glaze on top is made with a powdered sugar base. You do not need to sift the powdered sugar before making the glaze.
See full recipe below for detailed directions.
Substitutions & Variations
This is a very adaptable recipe and below are a few easy substitutions and variations you can try.
- Use active sourdough starter - You can make this recipe with active sourdough starter! To do so, omit the yeast and replace the sourdough discard with active starter. You may also need to adjust the rising times.
- Use an egg substitute - If you are not baking with eggs, you can make this recipe with a liquid vegan egg substitute (such as JustEgg).
- Use regular dairy milk - If you'd rather not use non-dairy milk, you can use regular dairy milk for this recipe.
- Add nuts - You can add up to ¼ cup of chopped nuts (such as walnuts) with the apples as you're assembling the layers.
- Add dried raisins or cranberries - You can add up to ¼ cup of dried raisins or cranberries along with the apples when you're assembling the layers.
I have not tested this recipe with other variations, but if you do, let us know how it turns out in the comments! I always love to hear how you're adapting these recipes and use those as ideas for future recipes as well!
How to make Sourdough Discard Apple Pull Apart Bread
As long as you're patient with the rise times, this recipe comes together in a few easy steps.
Combine all dough ingredients in the bowl of stand mixer. You can also make this dough in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.
Knead until a smooth, soft dough forms. Transfer to a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough onto a work surface and divide into 10 roughly equal-sized pieces. This does not have to be exact and the irregularity is part of the charm!
Using the palm of your hand, press each piece of dough into an oval shape, approximately 4 inches in diameter.
Spread with softened butter, then sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture.
Add apples to half of the oval. Fold in half (like a taco).
Stack the layers in the baking pan, fold-side down. Repeat until the pan is full.
Bake until golden brown, then let cool. Pour the glaze over top when you're ready to serve!
Expert Baking Tips
- Make sure to knead the dough long enough. The dough should be smooth, soft, and not sticky when you put it in the bowl for the first rise.
- Dividing the dough doesn't need to be exact. When you divide the dough into 10 equal-ish pieces, remember that irregularity is part of the charm of this recipe. You can also weigh the dough and divide by 10 to make your pieces perfectly equal-sized.
- Embrace the irregularity of the flattened dough shapes! You'll press each dough piece into an oval shape with your hand, and they'll be irregular. Again, this is part of the charm! Embrace it!
- Add apples only to half of each flattened dough piece. This will make it easier to fold the dough and place it in the baking pan.
- Place a pan under your loaf while baking to catch any drips! Depending on the size of your pan, how much the dough has risen, and the juiciness of your apples, you may have some drips while baking. If you place a baking sheet on the rack below the loaf, this will catch them!
- Let the baked bread cool before adding the glaze. If the loaf is still warm, the glaze will melt right off. It'll still be delicious, though!
What are the best apples to use for this recipe?
I'm sure we could have an entire debate about our preferred apples for baking! I like to use Gala Apples, but other apple types that work well are Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady apples. Generally, you want a harder apple that will hold its shape well (and not turn into apple sauce!) during baking.
What is sourdough discard?
Sourdough discard is what is leftover after you feed your sourdough starter. You can either literally discard it (throw it away or compost it), or you can use it in sourdough discard recipes like this one.
Even though we are using sourdough discard in this recipe, we still need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast) to make the dough rise predictably. You'll still get some of that sourdough flavor, though!
Every sourdough starter, and therefore discard, is different. If your dough seems too wet or too dry, add more flour or water (1 Tablespoon at a time) to reach your desired dough consistency.
I like to use a 5-Quart KitchenAid Stand Mixer to make the dough, but this is optional. You can also make the dough in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Use a kitchen scale to weigh your sourdough discard.
Refrigerator Storage: This Sourdough Discard Apple Pull Apart Bread is best eaten fresh, even while it's still slightly warm. You can store the bread in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If needed, reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make the bread soft and warm again.
- I recommend the refrigerator rather than room temperature storage because of the apples. You don't want to let the dough with baked apples sit out at room temperature for several days.
Freezer Storage: If you want to store this bread to enjoy later, let it cool fully, then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag before adding the glaze. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let the bread thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then you can reheat the bread in the microwave for about 60 seconds to make it warm and soft again. Top with the glaze before serving.
Yes! To do so, omit the yeast and replace the sourdough discard with active sourdough starter (a 1:1 replacement). You may also need to adjust the rise times.
This is going to be about personal preference. I like to use Gala Apples, but other apple types that work well are Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady apples.
If you want the glaze to be thicker, use less non-dairy milk when mixing it. Alternatively, if you want it to be thinner, use more milk. Remember that if your loaf is still warm, the glaze will melt a bit and become runnier when you add it to the loaf.
If you want to make this dough and then let it rise to bake in the morning, you can. Assemble the loaf in the layers in the 9x5-inch baking pan, then cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, let the dough come to room temperature, then bake as directed.
Sourdough Discard Apple Pull Apart Bread
For the Dough
- ¼ cup unflavored, non-dairy milk* warmed to 110℉
- 1 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 200 grams (about ¾ cup) sourdough discard unfed, at room temperature
- 1 egg lightly beaten, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
For the Filling
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened and divided
- 1 apple small diced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup dark brown sugar packed
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons unflavored, non-dairy milk*
- 1 teapsoon vanilla extract
- Combine all dough ingredients except melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer*. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add 2 Tablespoons melted butter. Increase speed to medium and mix until a shaggy dough forms.
- Transfer the dough to a smooth work surface and knead by hand until a smooth dough forms. The dough should be smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky. If needed, add more non-dairy milk or flour (1 Tablespoon at a time) until you reach the desired consistency.
- Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- While the dough rises, make the filling. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tablespoon butter (the remaining softened butter will be used to assemble the layers). Add the diced apples to the skillet and cook, stirring occassionally, until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Set aside.
- Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until combined and set aside.
- After the rise, turn the dough onto a smooth work surface and divide into 10 roughly equal-sized pieces. This does not have to be exact and the irregularity is part of the charm! Flatten each piece with the palm of your hand into an oval shape, approximately 4 inches in diameter. Spread with softened butter, then sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture and add apples to half of the oval.
- Fold the piece in half (like a taco), then transfer to the prepared loaf pan, fold-side down on the bottom of the pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough until the pan is filled.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise 30-45 minutes until puffed.
- Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then tent with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until golden brown. I highly recommend placing a baking sheet on the rack below the loaf to catch any drips that may happen! Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully.
- While the loaf cools, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and non-dairy milk until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the bread before serving.