Saturday, 9 June 2012

Sourdough Cake aka Chain Letter Cake

This was a strange thing and what I have been referring to as 'chain letter cake' talking about it with someone.  In the middle of last week, one of the students in the class I help out in presented my boyfriend's mother with a container of liquid and a set of instructions, saying she had to take care of it and in the end would get a cake.  Since I'm the avid baker, the thing was foisted off onto me.  So I took it home and it was living on my worktop for ten days as the instructions dictated with me having to feed it flour, sugar and milk.

The reason I call it 'chain letter cake' is because on the ninth day, you feed the mixture and then split it into four, passing three parts off to friends.  Admittedly I did not do this bit.  I left the remaining 3/4 in a jug, where it grew overnight and split over my work top.  After that it ended up in the sink.  I'm kinda wishing I had kept it now since the cake I ended up with has gone down well.  Not with me, because I do not like cinnamon or apple or raisins in cakes.  (Picky, I know.)

Making the cake itself was very easy.  Basically putting all the ingredients into the remaining part, mixing it up and baking it.  I had to bake it for longer than instructed.  The middle would just not cook.  Eventually I was getting fed up because it was taking forever to cook the middle at the bottom so I moved it down a shelf to speed it up.  Within a few minutes the bottom was burnt so I'm a bit miffed about that.  I think I'll move that shelf up a bit.  That's the second time something has burnt sitting on it.

After researching, it turns out that what I was given was a sourdough starter, which is used by a lot of bakers.  You feed it regularly and it will grow into more sourdough thanks to the yeast that develops inside.  You can then use some of it to make things like cakes and bread.

Unfortunately this means I cannot give you the whole recipe because you need a sourdough starter.  But if you can acquire one, then you can do this cake too.

Recipe: adapted from the recipe that came with my sour dough starter
Makes a 20cm square cake
  • 1/4 pint/150ml sourdough starter
  • 200g/7oz caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 256g/9oz plain flour
  • 150ml/5 fl.oz cooking oil (I used rapeseed)
  •  2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cooking apples
  • 1 cup raisins (or sultanas or a mix of the two, which is what I had)
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnammon
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 20cm/8inch cake tin.
  2. Cut the apples into chunks. 
  3. Mix everything together in a large bowl and then pour into the greased tin.
  4. Bake in the oven for about an hour, or until a skewer pushed through the middle comes out clean (mine took almost 2 hours to cook).

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