Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Chocolate Sourdough Snack Cake




After years of living without a sourdough starter in my fridge, it's back. And that's thanks to my friend Joanne Sherif of Cardamom Cafe and Bakery. I just wrote about her new Friendship Bread project for my last Close to the Source post for Edible San Diego.

With her new project, Joanne is sharing her sourdough starter every Friday morning. If you haven't cultivated starter, you need to know that it requires regular feeding with equal parts flour and water--but before you add the new you have to discard much of the old. Those discards are what she's sharing--and encouraging those of us who take it in hand in our homes to do--hence, "friendship bread."


I got some of that starter on that Friday morning and on Sunday decided to feed it. But I didn't have anyone to give my discards to. So, what to do?

I spent some time online trying to come up with a recipe to make. Now you may think that sourdough starter is strictly for use in leavening and flavoring sourdough bread.

Not true.

Sourdough starter, whether freshly fed or discarded, can be used in all sorts of applications: pancakes and waffles, cakes, quick breads, muffins, crackers, and crepes. Joanne has been using hers for cornbread and banana bread, which you can buy at the bakery.


I had a limited range of options only because of simple quantity--my first discards were limited to half a cup. When I fed the starter I added four ounces each of King Arthur white whole wheat flour and water. So, I should have more discards this weekend. (And note, I add ingredients by weight, not volume.) Unless I need more starter for a big baking project, I'll add two ounces of flour and water each in the future, let it sit on the counter for several hours until it bubbles up, then store it in the fridge. I put a line on the see-through container that shows the starting point so I can see how much it grows. Because it's being refrigerated I only need to feed it weekly. If left on the counter, it would need daily feeding. I don't think I have enough interested friends to share discards from that or the time to use it up daily.


As I scoured online resources I came across a site I wasn't familiar with but that I discovered, along with the ever-reliable King Arthur Flour, is hugely informative: Cultures for Health. The site has an entire section devoted to how to use discarded starter. And from there I found my recipe: Chocolate Sourdough Snack Cake.

Yes, I was lured by biscuits, including biscuits with cheddar cheese, and pretzels, and English muffins... but I didn't have enough starter. Curious about a sourdough dessert, and honestly getting a little desperate, I clicked on desserts and found this cake. Bingo! It sounded divine--and only needed half cup of starter.

This recipe is super simple and yields a deep chocolate brownie-like consistency. It calls for baking in a cake pan, but I fiddled around with measurements and decided to use a loaf pan instead--and it worked just fine. I also didn't have non-alkalized cocoa powder and worried that since the recipe called for baking soda there might be an issue. But no, it all turned out well. (I've since found--and ordered--natural cocoa powder for when this comes up again.)

I actually didn't taste much of a sour/tangy flavor from the starter, but the cake benefitted in moistness and richness. And, oh, how wonderful it is with a cup of coffee or tea.

And, really, the point of this bake was to demonstrate to myself that I could relax a bit about having a starter again since the pressure is off to bake bread at a pace I can't keep up with. And, if anyone would like my discards, let me know. I'm happy to share when I feed on Sundays.


Chocolate Sourdough Snack Cake
From Cultures for Health
(printable recipe)

Ingredients

1 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. cold, strong coffee
1/2 cup fresh sourdough starter
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened, non-alkalized cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts or naturally sweetened mini chocolate chips

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper; lightly butter and set aside.
3. Mix unrefined sugar and butter together in a large bowl until sugar is thoroughly incorporated into butter. Beat in egg, vanilla, coffee, and sourdough starter.
4. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
5. Blend dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until batter is mixed through.
6. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Do not overmix.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Cool on a rack and serve plain or frosted.



Print Page