Tag Archives: sourdough

Sourdough Chocolate Cake

I made this cake for my love on our first wedding anniversary.  Not only was it pretty and quite rich and delicious, there was actually a little thought and symbolism behind it.

Because the way I see it, our sourdough starter is a sort of pseudo-first child. We began our starter shortly after we moved into our first house together. And it started with three very basic ingredients- flour, water, and love. (Okay, so it was flour, water, and a nearly-neglected Amish friendship bread bag-o-mush picked out of the office breakroom. Which could be similar to love, to some people.)

We fed and watered our sourdough. We let it bubble and breathe. We stirred it gently with a wooden stick. We baked some of it every weekend, more and more excited as it became sourer and sourer.

And as we adopted a cat, tore down a garage, built a new garage, adopted a second cat, bought new furniture from a real furniture store (not a thrift store) for the first time… we nurtured our sourdough. It brought us closer together.  Really. It did.

Hence the cake. It was really delicious. And topped with love. And ganache.

Sourdough Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Sourdough Jack’s Cookery, via Orangette

1 c. thick sourdough starter
3/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 c. milk at room temperature
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. coffee liqueur
1 t. ground cinnamon
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 t. salt
1-1/2 t. baking soda
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Leave a cup of starter out overnight (this is called proofing).

Preheat oven to 350 (or 330 with convection). Cream the sugars and butter until fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in starter, milk, vanilla, liqueur, cinnamon, and melted chocolate. Beat with an electric mixer or a muscled arm for two minutes.  Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the top of the batter and then fold in gently. Fold in flour until batter is smooth. Pour into buttered and floured pan. (I used an 8-inch round springform; Mollie used a Bundt pan.)

Bake until cake springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean, 35-60 minutes, depending on the type of pan you use. Cool; frost or sprinkle with powdered sugar; serve to your love; savor the moments.

Basic chocolate ganache
Be sure your cake is cool to the touch before frosting with ganache, as it’s very sticky and can crumb up easily if the cake is warm.

8 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 T. butter
1 T. coffee or chocolate liqueur

Roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces, and place them into a medium glass bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan just until it begins to boil on the edges. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk carefully until all of the chocolate is melted. Whisk in the liqueur. Allow the ganache to sit for a few minutes before frosting.

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Filed under Desserts, Marriage

Sourdough pita bread


Ever done Amish Friendship Bread- those little ziploc baggies that you mush for days and then add milk, sugar, flour, and still somehow end up with 4 more baggies AND a loaf of bread?  I made a sourdough starter out of one of those baggies, and it’s fantastic. I have been feeding and baking it for a few months and we’re getting some awesome sourness.

However, I’m getting a little sick of plain sourdough loaves.  We’ve done hamburger and brat buns, and I wanted something more. Enter the pita.

I used this website for the recipe, but upon baking the first pita, I found the method wasn’t working for me. Instead, I grabbed my trusty Baking With Julia; that method worked well for me, and it’s the one I’ve included here.

If you don’t have a sourdough starter just laying around, no fears! You can make pita, too! It just won’t have that trademark “sourdough” flavor. It’s easy to make a starter using the recipe from Baking With Julia, as posted here by Emeril and FoodNetwork (follow the instructions from the beginning through the 30m-8h rest).

Sourdough Pita Bread

1 cup (approx. 7 oz.) sourdough starter
1 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
1/3 c. warm water
1 1/2 c. flour, any mix of white and wheat, plus extra

Combine starter, water, oil, and salt into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well-combined. Add the flour, tablespoon by tablespoon until the dough pulls away from the bowl sides.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for 3-5 minutes, until the dough is stiff and sticky. Add flour by the tablespoon if the dough continues to stick to the sides of the bowl.  Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, rotate dough in the bowl so that all sides are covered in a thin layer of oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 2-3 hours.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 portions and roughly form each piece into a ball. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.  Roll each ball into rounds about 6 inches in diameter and 1/4 inches thick. If the dough resists rolling out, let it rest for 10 more minutes. Cover the rounds with a towel and let rest 15 minutes until puffy.

Preheat the griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and lightly oil the griddle. Bake 1 rolled-out circle at a time on the griddle, cooking for 15 to 20 seconds before turning the bread over gently. Cook for another minute or until big bubbles appear. Turn the bread again and cook until it balloons fully. Pressing a towel on those areas where bubbles have formed will push air into the flat areas. The breads should bake for no more than 3 minutes. Lightly brush the skillet with oil after every bread.  Pita is best the day it is made, but it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for 1 month.

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Filed under Breads, Clean Eating

Amish bread experiment

Ah ha. The cursed Amish friendship bread made an entrance in the office this week. Everyone has done this at one point- you get the bag of bubbly mush, shake it up and add some stuff, and after 10 days you put some of it in bags and pawn it off on your friends. Then you eat an entire bunt pan of coffee cake bread in 2 days, and wonder why your jeans are tight.

Not that I’ve ever done that.

I resisted the urge to bring a bag of starter home yesterday, but then got to thinking– isn’t that pretty much the same idea as sourdough bread? N & I had talked about doing a sourdough starter, but were discouraged by all of the waiting. It can take up to 2 years to get a decent starter with a pleasant level of “sourness”!

I did a bit of googling and decided that I would try taking part of this starter and turning it in a sourdough starter. What the heck, right?!

First I measured out the goop I was given for AFB- 2 1/2 cups. I decided to use 1/2 c. of that for my starter. Inspired by this, I put the goop in a quart jar, added 1/2 c. warm water and 1/2 c. flour, mixed well with a wooden spoon, and covered. The jar is sitting on top of my fridge waiting for its next feeding.

My game plan is to add 1/2 each warm water and flour for the next three days. On the fourth day, I’m going to stir it down (to release most gas), and throw out about half of it. Then I’ll feed it for another 2-3 days, throw some out, and feed for another 4-6 days before trying our first sourdough recipe. It’s a shot in the dark, but I’m willing to try it!

K. Back to the yummy coffee-cake bread.

I was left with 2 cups of day-10 goop and trying to figure out how to make this work… I wanted a batch of bread tonight and an extra starter, and that’s it. I decided that since the original recipe calls for an extra 4 bags plus the current batch, I would work on the assumption of the starter being tailored for a batch of 5. (See this post for the recipe and instructions I got, as I know there variations out there.) 2 1/2 cups of original mush divided by 5 is 1/2 cup each… so I kept 1 cup of the goop. I added 1/2 c. each sugar, flour, and milk, and re-measured: 2 cups. So I put one cup in a clean tupperware and stashed in the fridge for later use, and kept the remaining cup for the batter.

Following still?

THEN, I decided that I did not want two large loaves of Amish bread. Plus, I wanted it sorta healthy but still tasty.  Hmm. I decided to throw all caution to the wind. I added to the cup of starter:

1 egg
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. milk, and mix well. Then add:

1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. wheat flour
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash of salt

Mix well again. Fold in one small, very finely diced apple.

The resulting batter was a lot like banana bread, without bananas. The cinnamon and whole wheat flour combo always makes my knees weak- I love the nuttiness, the slight bite.

I baked this in a greased loaf pan at 325 for… oh, I dunno, maybe 35 to 45 minutes? It smells great, but is yet to be tasted.

One thing is for sure- you can’t say I’ve got a boring kitchen. :)

ETA: My experiment produced a moist bread, but it certainly is not coffee-cake like. I would guess that most people would prefer more sugar- 1/2 cup instead of 1/3 should do the trick. I would consider adding more cinnamon and some agave nectar, but all-in-all, it’s a pretty good loaf of breakfast bread.


Filed under Breads