Cranberry-Oat Sourdough Scones

My brilliant, talented, and beautiful niece R moved into her dorm at Berkeley this past weekend. I wanted to send her off with something as sweet as she is, yet also, like R, health-conscious and a little unconventional. (OK, these scones aren’t quite what I’d call healthy, but I tried.) I love you R!

To make sourdough scones, I consulted recipes for buttermilk scones (from Tartine and King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking), substituting sourdough starter instead of buttermilk to contribute acidity and liquid (as well as a good proportion of flour) to the dough. The result was a lighter, moister, less crumbly scone than those typically found in coffee shops around here. Not as exceptional as R herself, but still pretty good.

Cranberry-Oat Sourdough Scones

Yield: 8 larger or 12 smaller scones


  • Soak berries: 10 minutes
  • Mix: 10 minutes
  • Shape: 5 minutes
  • Bake: 23 minutes


  • 50 g dried cranberries
  • 87 g white whole wheat flour
  • 40 g oat flour
  • 17 g  nonfat milk powder
  • 1.5 t. baking powder
  • 3/8 t. baking soda
  • 5/8 t. salt
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1/2 t. finely-grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 113 g (one stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 40 g rolled oats
  • 340 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • milk and coarse sugar for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Cover the cranberries with warm water and soak for 10 minutes, then drain well.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, place the flours, milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and lemon zest. Pulse a few times to combine.
  4. Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few larger (pea-sized) pieces of butter remaining.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and mix in the oats and drained cranberries lightly with your fingers.
  6. Add the sourdough starter and mix quickly and lightly with your hands just until the dry ingredients are incorporated into it. The dough will be wet and sticky.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter and pat it into a rectangle about 5×9 inches for larger scones, or about 4×11 inches for smaller ones.
  8. With a dough cutter, cut the dough into two rectangles (three for small scones), and each of those, on the diagonals, into four pieces.
  9. Place the scones to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  10. Bake for about 23 minutes, until golden brown.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    I absolutely love the Tartine cookbook… My children and I went to find their bakery last year in SF… We shared a Croque Monsieur and Fragipane Croissant… blissfull! I have made the scones and they are lovely.

  2. Lena says

    Would be nice if you would include the original scone recipe (from Tartine and KA Baking) amounts for buttermilk to make the recipe more accessible for those of us not (yet!) baking with sourdough. Thanks.

  3. says

    Your niece is very lucky to have you! I think these scones look great, and personally prefer scones that are slightly more moist and less crumbly anyway. Substituting sourdough starter for buttermilk is an interesting idea – how did you suddenly think of this? (Inspired by wanting to make scones for R?)

  4. Kristine K. says

    Thanks for this idea, we can’t have dairy here, and I’m always looking for ways to have off-limit baked goods without having to resort to the “just substitute everything and hopes it turns out okay” method. True, I’ll have to substitute for the butter, but I’ve had good luck with Earth Balance and coconut powder is also easily the equal to milk powder. Anyway, me and my three boys get to Berkeley a lot (we’re in the East Bay), so I know your niece is going to have a wonderful time going to school there!

  5. says

    It is that time of year, isn’t it? What a nice aunty you are! These scones look delicious! I love the tartness of cranberries in just about anything. Sometimes I think I’m the only one on the planet that doesn’t have Tartine. What’s wrong with me?

  6. says

    Kim, I agree, I love them, though don’t make them often.

    Amy, Eileen: I just got the Tartine book and haven’t made anything (els) from it. That will change soon, though.

    Lena, that’s a little beyond my scope, and my recipe really didn’t end up looking much like either of those anyway, when all was said and done. A Google search turns up lots of buttermilk scone recipes, though.

    Jacqueline, I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate sourdough into more things, so it seemed like a natural thing to try.

    rainbowbrown, will we be seeing some scones from you soon? (I hope)

    Kristine, I hope you will enjoy!

    Erin, thanks!

    kelly, I imagine you’ll get around to it eventually ;)

    Laura, good idea!

    farida, I agree, oats make everything more delicious and healthy.

  7. says

    Gorgeous color Susan, they look like all a scone should be. I’m not a fan of the dry scone I find in most places so that “ighter, moister, less crumbly” sounds like just perfect to me. And there’s plenty of healthy in the cranberry and oats!!

  8. mercurius says

    Thanks for this great recipe. I made it this afternoon and the scones are delicious and very light. The dough was very wet & sticky though and there was no way I could cut it. Is there something missing?



  9. says

    Tanna, glad to see you back!

    mercurius, yes this is quite a wet dough. Make sure you use plenty of flour on the counter, as well as on your hands and the dough cutter (works much better than a knife). Also use a very light touch when handling the dough with your hands. You can add more flour but this will make the scones drier.

  10. says

    Noone made me scones when I started or graduated from Berkeley! Maybe I’ll just have to make some for myself…sigh, or find some new aunts.

  11. Brad says

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks so much for the recipe, and happy Valentines Day. Just wondering if there’s a button to click to go from measurements in grams to cups? Don’t have a scale that sensitive over here.

  12. Gabrielle says

    These are very popular with my family – however, they never come out quite the same. I was wondering if you could expand a bit on the starter as you use it here… for instance:
    Is “mature” at the peak of activity, or gone slightly concave at the edges of it’s container?
    Do you stir down the bubbles first, or “glop” it on to the scales (I did this today and it doesn’t look like your photo at all!)
    For the final mixing in of the starter “by hand”, do you mean ‘stirring with a hand’, lightly folding or kneading, or is it like working butter into flour as per for a pastry crust?
    Thanks for your help – I use fresh sour cherries from our trees and white chocolate, and I am determined to get them right!

  13. says

    Gabrielle, the starter should be used when it has reached it’s maximum volume. For me, with a starter that’s fed twice daily, I generally use it between 8 and 12 hours after it’s been fed. The “hand mixing” is just mixing the ingredients to incorporation with your fingertips.

    I’m not sure how well fresh cherries will work, because they could add significantly to the moisture in the dough. You might wish to try it with dried sour cherries and see if you are happier with the result.

  14. says

    Hmmm…sourdough scones…I don’t know. Never considered it, but you know what? I’ll bet you’ve got something here. Definitely going to give them a try. Thanks.

  15. Lee says

    I was curious how scones made with sourdough would turn out. I found this recipe and was delighted to discover I had all the ingredients on hand, and tossed in a handful of toasted chopped pecans to gild the lily. The scones turned out fabulously even though I forgot to brush them with milk and sprinkle with sugar. They have a nice and light texture. Thanks!

  16. Andrea says

    Do you think it would work to freeze the dough in a plastic-lined pan before cutting, as you did with the blueberry sourdough scones?

  17. says

    I made these yesterday with what I had in the cupboard with the substitution of white wheat flour (Red Mill) and dried cherries.
    The lemon peel really contributes a lot of nuanced flavor and while I probably overworked the dough, the scones were great; fragrant and oaty and hinting at healthfulness despite the butter and sugar…..
    They were great warm out of the oven and still good the next day.
    I was happy to find this on the web in time to use the sourdough starter I was refreshing and equally happy to finally make something off of your blog.

  18. Zo says

    Made these as plain scones and OMG they were amazing! So easy too. Thanks for posting and opening up my sourdough horizons :)


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