Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sourdough Chocolate Cake: National Sourdough Day!

I used to bake a lot of bread, and I have my own starter in the refrigerator. Some of the bread companies in the San Francisco Bay Area have sourdough starter that goes back well over a hundred and fifty years. There was a time when these bakeries kept their sourdough starter under lock and key. I imagine they still might be doing that. Read Julie Smith's Sourdough Wars. This mystery might be fiction, but there's some real history behind it.  I've had my starter for about 30 years or more. Every baker should have sourdough starter in the fridge!

To learn about a good starter, go to Lots of great information on techniques, maintaining a starter, using a starter, storing a starter and even reviving a starter. Sourdough starter is a living thing, and it needs care.

One thing's for sure, it's easier and better to start with a good starter. Since I'm posting a recipe from King Arthur Flour today, let me suggest you purchase your starter from them. You have two options from King Arthur Flour: Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter or French Sourdough Starter.  The second is expensive, but might be easier for the novice who doesn't want to take care of a live starter culture. Always good to have an option.

A few years ago I posted a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread. It's wonderful, but if it's too much fuss for you, Zingermann's makes a great Chocolate Sourdough Bread that's available via mail order.

But since today is National Sourdough Day, I thought I'd repost King Arthur Flour's Chocolate Sourdough Cake recipe. It's virtually foolproof. Just make sure you feed your starter the night before.. don't just pull it out of the fridge. It won't work that way! And, don't worry, this cake isn't tangy.. it's just right!

  • 1 cup "fed" sourdough starter
  • 1 cup milk (whole milk or 2% preferred) or evaporated milk
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (not Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
  • 2 large eggs


  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup


Combine "fed" starter, milk, and flour in large mixing bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. It won't necessarily bubble, but it may have expanded a bit.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
In separate bowl, beat together sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa, and espresso powder. Mixture will be grainy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gently combine chocolate mixture with starter-flour-milk mixture, stirring till smooth. This will be a gloppy process at first, but batter will smooth out as you continue to beat gently.
Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake cake for 30 to 40 minutes, until it springs back when lightly pressed in the center, and cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven, and set it on rack to cool while you make the icing. OPTIONAL FOR ME... I'M NOT SURE IT NEEDS IT.. IT'S SUCH A GOOD CAKE BY ITSELF.
Sift confectioners' sugar into large mixing bowl, and set aside.
In small saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter, and add buttermilk or yogurt. Dissolve espresso powder in hot water, add to pan, and bring mixture just to a boil.
Immediately pour simmering liquid over confectioners' sugar in the bowl, and beat till smooth.
Pour warm frosting over cake. If you wait too long and frosting stiffens up, spread it over the cake.
Combine chocolate chips, milk, and corn syrup in microwave-safe cup. Microwave until chips soften, then stir till smooth.
Drizzle/drip chocolate over icing. You can do this while the icing is still warm, or wait till it's cooled.

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