Three months ago, a friend gave me some wholemeal sourdough starter, and nothing motivates you more to bake than having to maintain it. Since I’ve had my new ‘pet’, I’ve been making concerted efforts to work on my bread game, and I think I’m improving. My starter is fed (almost) every day, and I am proud to say I haven’t thrown any out at all.
It was a bit of a challenge at first. The rate at which I bake (and consume) artisanal bread isn’t remotely equal to the amount of starter being generated. So much so, that it was part of my process to funnel off excess into a tub in the fridge, and I had as long as it took to fill to come up with something to do. At a rate of increase of 1 cup a day, it wasn’t much time.
After finding ourselves with a surplus of both sourdough scones and crumpets, I knew I had to come up with something different, or resign myself to discarding the excess. This has become less of an issue since I started baking sandwich bread a couple of times a week, however, a little extra still ends up in that fridge tub awaiting something delicious and creative.
Whilst researching sourdough bread recipes, something that came up was that you could sub in up to 200g of starter (at 100% hydration) for the same ratio of flour and liquid (ie. 200g starter for 100g flour and 100g water). I didn’t see a reason why you couldn’t apply that rule to other non-bread recipes as well, so that was the basis for my tinkering.
One of the results of my experimentation is this lemon cake. It doesn’t rise as high, nor is it as fluffy as your traditional cakes, but it’s still a moist and delicious result. Its compact form factor also lends itself to cutting into bite-sized pieces for convenient snacking.
It may be possible to get a better rise if you combine the flour and starter and allow it to rest for a couple of hours before adding the other ingredients, but if you want something that you can throw together quickly, this is just right.