Recipe: Sourdough Bisklava

(and a sourdough flaky biscuit recipe, to boot)

I’ve wanted to repost the sourdough flaky biscuit recipe I had here last year before Wordloaf went dark, but give it a little twist, so I turned it into a mashup of flaky biscuits and baklava. As I mention below, you can use this recipe to make (equally excellent) plain sourdough flaky biscuits by just skipping the nut mixture.

Also, as an added subscriber-only bonus this week, I am sharing the handout for my Sourdough Crash Course, which you might find useful even if you are not signed up for the class.


Sourdough Bisclava

Makes 8 large biscuits

  • The dough starts out crumbly and dry in pockets but will even out after all 5 sets of folds are completed. Don't be tempted to add more liquid or overwork the mixture in the bowl, you want to turn it out onto the counter while it is still clumpy and loose.

  • The first one or two folds will seem dubious, since the dough isn’t bound together into a single sheet yet (see below for what I mean). Just pretend that it is and do your best.

  • Flour the dough and the counter around/under it liberally to prevent sticking, but be careful not to incorporate too much flour into the folds, especially the later ones.

  • Remember to keep track of the number of folds you’ve done. My approach is to line up 5 small bowls on the counter next to me and flip each one over after completing a fold.

  • For “plain” flaky sourdough biscuits, just eliminate the nut-sugar mixture entirely. The honey is optional, but recommended.

70g finely chopped pistachios or walnuts (1/2 cup) 

6 tablespoons sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

283g all-purpose flour, preferably high protein 

4 teaspoons (20g) baking powder

½ teaspoon (2.5g) baking soda

9g salt (1 tablespoon Diamond kosher)

230g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen for 30 minutes 

20g (1 tablespoon) honey

240g (about 1 cup) 100% hydration sourdough starter/discard, cold

180g (3/4 cup) whole milk, cold

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Combine pistachios, 1/4 cup sugar, and cardamom in small bowl and set aside. Whisk flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Coat both sticks of butter in flour mixture, then grate 7 tablespoons from each stick on the large holes of box grater directly into flour mixture. Toss gently to combine. Set remaining 2 tablespoons butter aside.

  2. Whisk sourdough discard and milk in medium bowl until uniform. Add to flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined (dough will remain clumpy and dry in places, do not overmix). Transfer mixture to floured counter and flour top of mixture lightly. Press dough into a rough 7-inch square.

  3. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 12 by 9-inch rectangle with short side parallel to edge of counter. Using a bench knife to release dough from counter, fold dough into thirds like a business letter, then press dough beneath hands to seal. Turn dough 90 degrees clockwise. Repeat rolling into 12 by 9-inch rectangle, folding into thirds, and turning clockwise 3 more times, for total of 4 sets of folds. 

  4. Roll dough into 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Using bench knife, cut dough into thirds crosswise. Top center rectangle of dough evenly with 1 tablespoon pistachio mixture. Stack another rectangle of dough over center one, top with another tablespoon pistachio mixture, then top with remaining rectangle of dough. Press top of dough gently to join the layers.

  5. Roll dough into 10 by 5-inch rectangle about 1 inch thick. Transfer dough to prepared sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

  6. Transfer dough to lightly floured cutting board. Using sharp, floured chef’s knife, trim 1/4 inch of dough from each side of rectangle and set aside (scraps can be rolled into spirals and baked alongside biscuits if desired). Cut remaining dough half lengthwise and each half into 4 squares crosswise, flouring knife after each cut. Arrange biscuits at least 1 inch apart on sheet. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small bowl and whisk in honey. Brush tops of biscuits with honey butter, then sprinkle each with 2 teaspoons pistachio mixture.

  7. Bake until edges and bottoms of biscuits are golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Top evenly with remaining pistachio mixture and then transfer biscuits to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.