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Quince and Pecan Tea Cookies...don't chuck that spare sourdough starter

Posted by Sue Heward on

This COVID time is such a twilight zone where for me baking and gardening has helped ease the uncertainty, find some peace and meaningful moments.

I'm relatively new to sourdough bread baking. Its definitely cheaper than therapy (haha). However if you are like me where I only bake weekly or fortnightly it means I have to build up my starter the day before making the bread. This equals alot of potential discard of the leftover starter. So I've been on the look out for recipes to use this starter, its too good to literally discard.

ENTER the fabulous Sarah Owens and her cookbook Sourdough This book is a cracker. So far I have made the lavosh bread (they are called parchment crackers in the book), coconut tahini bars and now my version of the tea cookies using our sun dried Smryna quince to make quince butter. The idea is similar to Annabelle's quince jam drop that we published a couple of years ago but much lower in sugar and using sourdough discard. So here's my version.

Quince and Pecan Tea Cookies 

Makes approx. 18 cookies (I would suggest a double batch they go quickly)


For Quince butter (note this needs to be made a day before making the cookies if you are making from scratch, alternatively use our sun dried Smyrna quince to make it up quickly). 

500g quinces, cut in half but still with skin and core in. If you don’t have fresh quince you can also use approximately 200g of our sun dried Smyrna quince, the raw sugar and lemon below are then not required.

200g raw sugar

One lemon cut in half

Water to cover the quinces

This quantity will make to much more than is needed. However its easily stored in the fridge and then ready to use next time you need butter for these cookies, our tarts, if you want to add it to a hummingbird cake or served with pork.

For the cookies

170g wholemeal flour (I used Four leaf milling 85% light)

35g raw sugar

1/2 tsp salt flakes 

1 Tbspn chai tea (My favourite is Brewed by Belinda)

1 tsp lemon zest

85g cold unsalted butter

1 large egg, beaten

100g left over sourdough starter 

85g chopped pecans


Quince butter: This needs to be started the day before making the cookies if you are making from scratch. In a large saucepan put the halved quinces and lemon, sugar (and spices if you are adding them) and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to poach the quinces. This needs at least 3 hours until the quinces go a deep red/mauve colour. Allow the quince to cool, preferably overnight and then remove the quinces from the poaching liquid. Reserve the poaching liquid, this can be reduced and used as a sauce on pancakes or roast pork.

Take care to scoop the core of each half of each quince out (this is not pleasant to eat) and discard. Put all the remaining cooked quince in the food processor and blitz until you have a paste/butter consistency. Set aside until the cookie dough is ready. 

Alternatively if you don’t have fresh quince or pressed for time you can use our sun dried quince and soak for 20 minutes in warm water. Then simply blitz this in the food processor until you have a paste/butter consistency. Set aside until the cookie dough is ready. 


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a large bowl (or electric mixer) mix together the flour, sugar, salt, chai tea and lemon zest. Use your hands (or in the mixer) to rub through cubes of the cold butter until the dough looks like crumbs. Next add the beaten egg, then the starter and then the chopped pecans. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Use a spoon to portion out the cookie dough, I ended up using tablespoon for each portion. With each spoonful roll it in your hand then put it on a lined baking tray. I used my finger to put a hole in the top of each cookie. Using a small spoon fill each hole with your quince butter.

Bake for 18-20 mins in the oven or look for the cookies turning golden. Store in an airtight container. 

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