Chocolate Sourdough Cake Redux

It's really a nice feeling that I have not discarded any sourdough starter in well over a month. A steady appetite for experimentation (and pancakes) uses up any surplus with ease. My palate is curiously adapting to less sweet and less refined desserts although, you would never know it come Daring Baker reveal day on the 27th...

Early in the sourdough starter days, I made a vegan chocolate sourdough cake that was very good. I have made several others since, vegan and non-vegan, and still hadn't settled on that recipe that I know I'll automatically grab whenever I need a chocolate sourdough cake. Yesterday, I found it. This cake is moist, slightly sweet, and holds together well. It is a tad bread-like, but fully rooted in dessert territory - given that it's roots are from King Arthur Flour's recipe bin.

I slashed the sugar, heaped the cocoa powder, and upped the fermentation time - although I will plan ahead next time to give a full 12-24 hour fermentation to the starter/flour mix. I also cut the recipe in half, since me and 9x13 cake pans are not the best of friends. Our relationship is complicated, and generally ends with me devouring too much of my new friend's content in too short a period of time. 8x8 cake pans are much more suited to my demanding dessert demeanor.

Chocolate Sourdough Cake (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
  • 1/2 c. well-fed sourdough starter
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 c. AP flour
  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature
  • scant 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 6 heaping T. cocoa powder (natural process)
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. or greater espresso powder
  • 1 egg
Combine starter, milk and flour in a mixing bowl and let ferment. (KAF says at least 3 hours, but you can go longer.) After ferment time, proceed:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until lightened. Add vanilla, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder and egg, and mix thoroughly.

Add the sourdough/milk/flour ferment to the chocolate-butter mixture. I found it easiest to use a sturdy spatula to mix the two - be firm but not vigorous and also be patient. Stir to combine until very few streaks of sourdough remain, and the batter looks like batter. It's sticky stuff!

Pour into a greased 8x8 glass baking dish, and use a metal knife or spatula dipped in water to spread batter evenly in the pan. The cake does "dome" a little, so you can try to push a bit more batter into the corners than into the center if this matters to you. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a tester in the center comes out clean.

You can use whatever frosting you like to top it after it cools completely - I just went with a simple American-style buttercream in a thin layer.

In case it needs to be said: I Love Cake. No matter my health consciousness or obsessive nutritive behaviors, there is nothing quite like a slice of cake on a plate at the end of the day. Culinarily, it gives me something to look forward to (and kind of prevents me from seeking out sweets throughout the day), and as a parent, it gives me a bargaining chip. I think I like baking cakes as much as I like eating them, and it never hurts to have something somewhat nutritious and homemade to offer my boys for dessert. Now that I have this one perfected, I'll likely try messing with the flours or sweeteners - I can never leave well enough alone.

I get to wondering if there is some such thing as an actually nutritionally viable cake, one that doesn't just serve it's eater as a recreational deliciousness. While I fantasize that this would be a wonderful thing, really what would the fun be in that exactly? What is the point of dessert if not to be doing something that isn't a bit out of the ordinary, right? Any way you look at it, this chocolate sourdough cake is going to be hanging around my kitchen for awhile. Depending on how fast I eat it, that is.