Friday, January 6, 2012

Sourdough Banana Cake

One of the concerns that I had regarding maintaining my new sourdough starter had to do with its regular feedings. You see, when feeding a sourdough starter, in order to feed it enough to keep it thriving, you feed it an equal amount (by weight) of flour and water as the starter that you have. Sounds confusing. Say you have 100 grams of starter. When feeding it, you feed it 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water. Now, not having a kitchen scale, I have to improvise a little. So, say I have one cup of starter. I then feed it one cup of flour and somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of a cup of water. So after feeding the starter, you have twice what you started with. Make sense?

Here's the thing - unless you want to wind up with vats and vats of sourdough starter, or unless you are doing a ton of sourdough baking, doubling the starter at each feeding can make things get out of hand. Which is why most people start by discarding a portion of what they have. If they haven't baked since the last feeding, they discard half of the starter, then feed it, so that they will net the same amount of starter after the feeding as before.

And I have difficulty wrapping my head around the idea of discarding food products, even if it is (for all intents and purposes) just a few cents worth of flour and water. One option is to give the "discard" amount of starter to a friend, thus giving them the gift of a lifetime of sourdough baking. Unfortunately, I currently have no takers for sourdough starter... any takers, leave me a comment and I'm happy to share. So I had to find another alternative.

And what I found is that there are some clever bakers out there who have developed recipes for just this purpose - recipes that use "unfed" sourdough starter (ie: what you would be discarding or giving away). Very, very cool.

The first such recipe that I found was for a Pumpkin Spice Cake, and it looked delicious.

Unfortunately, I had no pumpkin available to me when I was ready to test out this method of "saving" my sourdough "discard." So what is a baker to do? Improvise. What I did have on had were these:

Ripe bananas, begging to be turned into something delicious. Pumpkin out, banana in. I was ready to go.

In one bowl, I combined my dry ingredients - flour, sugars and delicious smelling spices.

And in another bowl, I combined the wet ingredients - mashed bananas, sourdough starter, egg, oil and a splash of vanilla (not in the pumpkin cake recipe... I told you, I improvised and made it my own!).

Dry ingredients whisked together, wet ingredients well mixed, I combined the two, and the the thick batter went right into the well-sprayed Bundt pan.

45 minutes later, voila:

It smelled heavenly and rose beautifully.

I actually baked this at night, once the kiddos had gone to bed, and let it cool overnight so that we could have it for breakfast the next morning.

But there was still one thing missing, that little miss was more than happy to help me add.

The glaze.

Because who doesn't need extra butter and sugar coating their breakfast, right??

Little miss mixed together the confectioners' sugar and milk.

And then took over photographer duties while I drizzled.

And then we were ready for breakfast.

Yum. Not to shabby for some discarded sourdough starter! Little miss and I each had seconds, and even little man enjoyed it.

This was breakfast and snack and dessert for a couple of days. We will definitely be making this again.

Sourdough Banana Cake
(adapted from Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen's Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Cake)

1 cup unfed sourdough starter, at room temperature (if you store your starter in the fridge, just let it sit out for about an hour before starting)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 to 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (I used three large bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

for the glaze (optional):
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 - 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously spray a Bundt pan (you can use a 9" x 13" pan if you would prefer).
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, mashed banaas, oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla. Mix together until everything is fully combined.
In a (separate) large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, sugar and spices.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (The recipe offers a cooking time of 35-40 minutes if you are using a 9" x 13" pan.)
Allow the cake to cool in the pan (on a cooling rack) for about 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack itself and allow it to cool completely.
To prepare the glaze, mix the melted butter and confectioners' sugar in a bowl, then slowly add enough milk to make a smooth, flowing glaze. Stir very well to ensure that you have removed all of the lumps. Once the cake is completely cool, use a spoon to drizzle on the glaze.



  1. This looks beautiful and amazing!!! I am definitely putting this on my "to-do' list! In fact, I might even pull some bananas out of my freezer to make this tomorrow!!!

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  4. Can I substitute the yogurt with milk?

  5. Wow, what a tasty cake. I made a few changes. I combined the starter, flour and dairy and set aside for a few hours, then proceeded with the rest of the directions. I used sour cream instead of yogurt and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (banana or coconut might work nicely). This is even better (if possible) the next day after refrigeration and a dollop of whipped cream.


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