Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friendship Sourdough Coffee Cake
I have wanted to make this cake from my Passion for Baking book for a long time because I was intrigued by the old-timey feel of sourdough in a cake. I have also wanted a sourdough starter for a long time, but I kept putting off starting one because I had serious doubts about my ability to take care of it. Then Chris got interested in bread baking and we ordered a starter from King Arthur and he takes care of it. It works perfectly because he's far more precise than I am and much better at following instructions. Once we got the initial breads out of our system, and a round of sourdough pancakes, Chris let me have a cup and half for this cake.
I read a short history on these cakes somewhere on the internet and found out that they are called Friendship Sourdough Cakes or more frequently Amish Friendship Sourdough Cakes because the tradition used to be to bring a sourdough cake and some starter for new neighbors. That way the new neighbors got to eat the cake, and had a mature starter for their own baking purposes. How much of that is true, and if there is actually a connection to the Amish is up for debate, but it's a nice story anyway.
Flavor-wise you can't really taste the sourdough in the cake. Instead, it tastes like a molasses spice cake with delicate rather than overwhelming spice flavors. My only problem was that it was ever so slightly dry, but it was a weird sort of dry because it almost seemed like it was supposed to be dry. The cake has a crumb topping, which is fine, but with the texture I really, really wanted to throw a thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top.
It was an interesting experiment and I'm glad I made it, but it didn't blow my socks off which means I likely won't make it again unless I get a specific request. However, if you're looking for a new way to use up sourdough starter and you like coffee cake -- this is a good alternative to try.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup coarsely chopped walnut or graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Sourdough Cake Batter
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 tbsps molasses
4 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
1/4 cup sour cream
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin or apple pie spice
Preheat oven to 350. Generously spray a 13x9 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. place pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
For Crumb topping, in a food processor, pulse all ingredients to make a course-crumbed mixture. Set aside.
For the cake, in a mixer bowl, cream butter with both sugars and molasses until fluffy. Add eggs and vnailla and blend well. Fold in sourdough starter, sour cream and then flour, baking powder, bkaing soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Blend well on low speed until the battter is smooth.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Top with the crumb toppping and bake until the cake springs back when gently touched with fingertips about 45 to 50 minutes.