Have your discard and eat it tooJump to Recipe
Whether you’ve just embarked on your sourdough adventure or you’ve baked sourdough for years, you may need one more recipe in your repertoire for the discard you remove from your starter every time you feed it, especially if it’s a recipe for chocolate cake.
Sourdough-ized depression-era chocolate cake
This rich chocolate cake contains neither eggs nor dairy—precious commodities that Granny used sparingly during the Great Depression. With grocery shopping now a stress-fraught ordeal during Covid-19, most of us are cooking like Granny—using everything, wasting nothing, opting for less-perishable foods that fall lower on the food chain. And although I want the pandemic to end soon, I hope our rekindled respect for food does not.
While working on my book over the winter (out early 2021!), I came up with a sourdough-ized version of depression-era chocolate cake but since I have two chocolate desserts in the book already, I filed this recipe away and forgot about it—until this past weekend when I found myself with too much starter on my hands and too little chocolate cake.
A few notes on the simple ingredients
The acidic discard in this—and also, the vinegar—reacts with the baking soda to make the cake rise. Once you have combined the wet ingredients with the dry, the batter will begin to puff up immediately. Pour the batter into the prepared pan asap.
If you have a good, strong batch of scrap vinegar on hand, use that for your vinegar. You can also use kombucha that you’ve fermented to the point of strong vinegar. Between my scrap vinegar and kombucha vinegar, I haven’t bought vinegar for about nine years. Granny would approve.
While olive oil adds a rich flavor to this humble cake, brown sugar provides more depth than mere granulated sugar does (I’ve made the cake both ways). Because we don’t have brown sugar on hand at the moment and I’m avoiding shopping like the plague, I’ve been “making” brown sugar by combining two ingredients we do have—molasses and granulated sugar. No wonder I was Granny’s favorite.
If you also find yourself without brown sugar but do have molasses and granulated sugar on hand, add about 2 heaping teaspoons of molasses to the wet ingredients and a scant cup of granulated sugar to the dry ingredients.
Of make your brown sugar in advance if desired. Use a fork in a shallow dish to mash together the molasses and sugar. I like to make a couple of cups at a time to make it worth my while. Want it darker? Add a bit more molasses. Store your brown sugar in a jar in the cupboard.
Enough throat clearing. Here is the recipe.
Sourdough Discard Vegan Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unfed discarded starter straight from the refrigerator
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 tablespoon vinegar white, cider, or strong homemade
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup olive oil plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 portion coconut buttercream frosting if desired
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease an 8-inch by 8-inch glass or metal baking pan.
- Combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
- Combine unfed discarded starter, water, vinegar, vanilla extract and olive oil in a separate small bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until moistened and pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a fork inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the pan on a baking rack.
- If frosting the cake, allow it to cool completely first.
- This cake tastes delicious with ¼ of chocolate chips or so added it. Mix them in with the dry ingredients. If you add chocolate chips, reduce the sugar by about ¼ cup.
- You can also make cupcakes. Divide batter among only 9 muffin cups of a standard, 12-muffin-size pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until a fork inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- All of my sourdough recipes use a 100 percent hydration sourdough starter, meaning the starter contains equal parts water and flour by weight (not volume).
- If you don’t keep a sourdough starter, increase the flour to 1½ cups and the water to 1 cup.