Whole Wheat Sourdough Cherry Knots – Discard or Active Starter

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These tangy & chewy sourdough cherry knots are coated in an easy cream cheese glaze making these the perfect breakfast treat with a hot cup of coffee! Made with hearty whole wheat flour, this wholesome recipe works great with active starter or healthy discard. Also great with fresh-milled flour!

A glazed sourdough cherry knot on white plate with the platter in the background.

I have a few “knots” recipes in the pipeline, and today I’m debuting my delicious whole wheat sourdough cherry knots!

The idea for cherry knots was born on a day I was making garlic knots and got to thinking…what if we made with a sweet version?

What if we flattened each piece of dough, spread it with cherry preserves and cinnamon, rolled it up & tied it in a knot?

Immediately I knew these had to be made ASAP!

Wholesome & Addicting

These sourdough cherry knots are a new family favorite around here!

First of all, they’re just lightly sweetened due to the cherry preserves and the cream cheese glaze, but the dough is not sugary at all. They have just enough sweetness to make you feel like you’re cozying up to an enjoyable treat but not enough to give you a sugar crash.

Second of all, they are much easier to make than you might think!

This recipe starts with a deliciously tangy enriched whole wheat sourdough dough. But this recipe is much easier than trying to make a loaf of bread!

Because we are making individual knots, gluten development and oven rise are not big considerations for this recipe. You do not need to knead excessively, fret about “window pane”, etc.

You should mix well and make sure the dough is smooth and supple, but that’s it. No standing over your stand mixer for 30 minutes trying to analyze the gluten structure or anything like that.

Third–you feel like a baking rock star when you’re done!

Silver platter of a dozen glazed sourdough cherry knots.

Ingredients

Whole Wheat Flour – I have made this recipe with freshly milled red wheat and freshly milled white wheat–both turned out wonderfully. For a more rustic treat, choose red wheat (what I used for the batch pictured in this post), or use white whole wheat for a lighter taste and feel. Fresh-milled flour is not required for this recipe–you can use bagged flour if you wish.

Sourdough Starter – This is a sourdough recipe, so you need a sourdough starter. I have made this recipe with both peak active sourdough starter and with cold, unfed starter from the fridge. Both will work. Keep in mind that cold, unfed starters will ferment more slowly.

Butter – A little butter goes a long way in softening the dough.

Maple Syrup – A small amount of maple syrup is also used to help soften the dough.

Cherry Jam & Cinnamon – For the filling.

Powdered Sugar – This is used for the glaze. See the tip section below if you would like to avoid refined sugar.

Cream Cheese – For the glaze. You can use regular cream cheese or reduced fat–whatever you prefer.

You’ll also need a few typical baking staples, like water, salt, vanilla extract, and a splash of milk for the glaze.

Avoiding Sugar?

If you would like to make these sourdough cherry knots without any refined sugar, make the following adjustments:
1) Choose a cherry jam with no added sugar.
2) Skip the glaze. Or–
3) To make a sugar-free glaze, use a powdered sugar substitute, such as Swerve.

Preparing the Sourdough Cherry Knot Dough

I recommend preparing the dough the evening before you would like to enjoy these treats.

This dough is dense, so it ferments a little more slowly than some other sourdough recipes. It takes me about 12-14 hours on average to get a 50% rise in the dough.

You can use this to your advantage and mix up the dough whenever it is most convenient for you during the evening. I usually whip mine up while dinner is cooking because I like to get the kitchen cleaned after we eat and leave it that way!

Kitchen aid mixing bowl with shaggy, crumbly dough.

1. Autolyze

Add the flour and water to the stand mixer bowl and stir to combine until all the flour has been absorbed. This will be a very shaggy dough as pictured. Cover the bowl and let sit 30 minutes to autolyze.

This is a mixer kneading the stiff dough.

2. Mix & Knead

Add the sourdough starter, salt, softened butter, and maple syrup to the mixing bowl. Stir until everything comes together. Switch out the paddle for the dough hook and knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is supple, smooth, and strong.

This is the dough fermenting/rising in a straight-sided glass container.

3. Bulk Ferment

Place the dough in a clear, smooth-sided container, flattening the top of the dough to make it even. Mark its starting height with an expo marker or a bit of tape. Calculate a 50% rise target and mark that target. Cover the dough and let it bulk ferment at room temperature until it has risen to its target mark.

On average, my fermentation time is 12-15 hours. However, your speed may vary depending on the temperature of your home, whether you used active starter or unfed discard, etc.

This is a food scale with weighed out dough balls surrounding it.

3. Divide

Once the dough has reached it’s 50% rise target, usually the next morning, you can scrape the dough out from it’s container and divide it into 12 equal pieces. I recommend using a kitchen scale.

After dividing the dough, line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

How to Shape Sourdough Cherry Knots

After dividing the dough into 12 equal pieces, assemble and shape each piece into a cherry knot.

  1. Flatten each piece of dough into a rectangle.
  2. Spread 1 tsp of cherry jam across the middle of the rectangle–avoid the edges. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon.
  3. Fold this rectangle in half and press the edges to seal.
  4. Roll it in half one more time so it looks like a tube shape.
  5. Use your hands to gently squeeze and pull the tube until it’s at least 6 to 8 inches long. Be careful not to rip the dough.
  6. Tie the dough tube into a knot and place on the baking sheet.

Repeat this process for all 12 knots.

While pictures are helpful, I think it’s best to watch the process in action. The video below shows me shaping a few knots. You can find the full recipe video in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

YouTube video

Proofing, Baking & Glazing

This is the sheet pan of sourdough cherry knots proofing.

1. Final Proof

After you have tied all of your knots, cover the pan with plastic wrap. The dough will dry out if not covered well. Let these proof for about 90 minutes to 2 hours or until you see them starting to puff a little. They will not rise drastically–it’s okay if you don’t notice much rise.

This is the sheet pan of knots baking in the oven.

2. Bake

Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake for 10 minutes or until the knots reach an internal temperature of 190°F when checked with a thermometer. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

This is a stainless steel mixing bowl with a whisk making the glaze.

3. Whisk

While the knots bake, add the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and 1 tsp of milk to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together until smooth.

This is a hand holding a cherry knot that has been dipped in glaze.

3. Dip

After the knots have cooled enough to handle (about 10 minutes–be careful not to touch hot jam as it’s hotter than the knot!) dip the tops in the bowl of glaze and set on a cooling rack to set.

These knots are delicious while still warm, but are just as tasty after they have completely cooled.

Close up of cherry knots with the glaze drizzling down the side.

Serving Suggestions

These are perfect served alongside some protein for breakfast, like scrambled eggs or a bowl of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.

They can also be served as dessert!

Substitutions

Here are a few swaps you can feel free to make if needed:

  • Honey instead of maple syrup
  • Softened/Melted coconut oil instead of butter
  • Red Wheat or White Wheat for the Whole Wheat Flour
  • a 50/50 blend of whole wheat and bread flour (I cannot say with certainty that this recipe would work as written with 100% white or all purpose flour)

Suggested Recipe Timing

While I have found this recipe most convenient to mix in the evening and let it ferment overnight, that’s not a requirement.

If you don’t want to start this dough in the evening, you can make it early in the morning instead and then shape the knots later in the day once the dough has risen about 50%.

After shaping the knots, cover & leave them to proof on the counter for about an hour, then put in the refrigerator. Take them out when you’re ready to heat up your oven and bake as directed.

Because the fermentation time on this recipe can be slow, if you choose to mix the dough in the morning, I recommend making sure the dough is tucked in a warmer place to help it rise in a timely fashion.

Variations

You don’t have to use cherry preserves if you want a different flavor and flair. Try any of the following swaps for different flavored fillings:

  • Strawberry, Raspberry, or Blueberry Jam
  • Lemon Curd
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • Nutella

Other Delicious Baking Recipes

If you want another delicious sourdough treat, try my whole wheat sourdough bagels.

You’ll love my carrot banana muffins and pumpkin banana muffins for a treat that is quicker to whip together.

Have questions about baking whole wheat sourdough? Check out my Whole Wheat Sourdough Troubleshooting Guide.

Leave a Comment & Review!

If you love these sourdough cherry knots, please leave a 5-star review!
If you have any questions about the recipe, feel free to ask in the comments. I do my best to reply to eat one. 🙂

A glazed sourdough cherry knot on white plate with the platter in the background.
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Whole Wheat Sourdough Cherry Knots with Cream Cheese Glaze

Tangy, chewy sourdough swirled with cherry preserves and cinnamon and drizzled with a cream cheese glaze–these amazing sourdough cherry knots are incredible. They are the perfect breakfast treat without being packed with tons of sugar.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time15 minutes
Bulk Fermentation & Proofing15 hours
Total Time16 hours 15 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sourdough cherry knots, sourdough cherry rolls
Servings: 12 knots
Calories: 220kcal
Author: Holly Lee
Cost: $5

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 400 grams whole wheat flour (white wheat or red wheat OK) about 3 cups, spooned & leveled
  • 240 grams water about 1 cup
  • 50 grams sourdough starter
  • 10 grams salt
  • 57 grams butter softened (4 tbsp)
  • 30 grams maple syrup about 30 g
  • 1/4 cup cherry jam or preserves
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar 120 grams
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened (regular or reduced fat ok)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp milk

Instructions

Suggested Timing: Evening

  • Add the flour and water to the stand mixer bowl and stir to combine until all the flour has been absorbed. Cover the bowl and let sit 30-45 minutes to autolyse.
  • Add the sourdough starter, salt, softened butter, and maple syrup to the mixing bowl. Stir with the mixing paddle until everything comes together. Switch out the paddle for the dough hook and knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is supple, smooth, and strong.
  • Place the dough in a clear, smooth-sided container, flattening the top of the dough to make it even. Calculate a 50% rise target and mark that target. Cover the dough and let it bulk ferment until it has risen around 50%. See notes for more info.

The Next Morning

  • After the dough has risen about 50% (most likely the next day), scrape the dough out from its container and divide it into 12 equal pieces. I recommend using a kitchen scale.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Flatten each piece of dough into a rectangle. Spread 1 tsp of cherry jam across the middle of the rectangle–avoid the edges. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon. Fold this rectangle in half and press the edges to seal. Roll it in half one more time so it looks like a tube shape. Use your hands to gently squeeze and pull the tube until it's at least 6 to 8 inches long. Be careful not to rip the dough. Tie the dough tube into a knot and place on the baking sheet. Repeat this process for all 12 knots. See recipe video for a demonstration.
  • Cover the knots with plastic wrap and let them sit for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to proof. Toward the end of the proof, turn on the oven to 400°F to preheat.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and place the knots into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove when golden brown and the interior temperature of a knot reads 190°F. Let cool about 10 minutes before glazing.

Glaze

  • Add the softened cream cheese to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and 2 tbsp milk. Whisk until nice and smooth.
  • After the knots have come out of the oven and are cooled enough to handle, dip the top of each cherry knot into the bowl of glaze and set on a rack or plate to set.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

I aim for a 50% rise for the bulk fermentation. When I measure, if I notice my flattened dough is about 3 inches tall, then to mark my target rise mark, I just add half of that number to it. Ex: 3 + 1.5 = 4.5. So my dough has risen 50% when it is 4.5 inches tall.
See recipe video for a shaping demonstration.
Store in an airtight container. These cherry knots are best the day they are baked, but are also good on day 2. If you cannot finish them by day 2, then I recommend freezing what you don’t think you will finish.
Remove from freezer a couple of hours before you want to enjoy them.

Nutrition

Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 366mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 133IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg

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