Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sourdoughizing: Applesauce Cake

It's actually been a long time since I've made dessert with my sourdough starter. It used to be, that I felt so guilty about my excesses of starter that I was attempting to put it in everything. But, that was before the perfection of sourdough pancakes. Now, most mornings the Kiddo tiptoes into the kitchen moments after waking and asks, "Is the starter good?" If I've fed it the day before, which oftentimes I have, then I say yes - and he immediately goes to the closet to grab his footstool to help me mix up pancakes. 100% sourdough starter pancakes take less time to mix than time to heat the pan, and I couldn't be more thankful that my picky child loves them as much as I do.

Now that Fall seems finally to have arrived, the onset of apple season has me trying to use the final few jars of last years applesauce from the shelves. Yesterday I couldn't help but wonder if fermenting sourdough starter with a pint of applesauce and flour would produce an even better version of the Spanish Bar Cake that I told you all about last year. I would say that this is the finest sourdough cake I've made to date, and no one would know any different that it is in fact healthier for you due to the long fermentation time. (We'll just ignore the sugar content, ok?) This cake is so apple-y, you would swear you added fresh and not canned sauce, and the cake is so moist you would swear it had a pound of butter in it. But this is oil cake friends, and coconut oil is my miracle oil of choice for producing stellar results in baked goods. If you have a cupful of 100% hydration starter in need of using, give it a try. You will then bask in the chill of Fall with ample apple sustenance to carry you through a brisk day.

100% hydration starter is sourdough starter that you feed equal amounts of flour and water. I keep my starter well fed, since I am a habitual baker, but if you keep yours in the fridge, I'd recommend giving it a feeding or two before baking with it. I let my cake ferment for about 8 hours before continuing, but you probably would have a bit of play on either side of that time frame. If you mixed it after supper, you could easily continue with the baking after breakfast - or if you allow a few minutes in the morning, you could bake it in the evening as I did.

Sourdough Applesauce Cake (adapted from this Spanish Bar Cake I posted last year)
1 9x13 cake

For the ferment:
  • 1 c. 100% hydration starter
  • 1 pint applesauce (about 2 c.)
  • 2 1/4 c. AP flour
To continue the cake:
  • 2 c. sugar
  • scant 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly (or same amount of any cooking oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 t. cinnamon (I use Cassia)
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. ground allspice
  • pinch salt
  • 1 c. raisins, optional
  • 1/2 chopped walnuts, optional
Combine the starter and applesauce in a large bowl and mix well. Add the flour, stir well to mix, cover and leave at room temperature to ferment at least 7 hours before continuing.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 and butter a 9x13 pan.

Combine the remaining ingredients, except the raisins and walnuts if using, and mix well. Add to the fermented applesauce mixture, which should have risen considerably. Mix well by hand with a sturdy wooden spoon or a dough whisk until well blended. Stir in optional raisins and walnuts and stir just enough to disperse in the batter.

Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 35-45 minutes until brown and a tester comes out clean from the center. Cool completely before frosting with maple cream cheese frosting if desired.

I will likely keep playing with this recipe. It's really one of my favorite things, since it is so deliciously reminiscent of Fall, but it also because it reminds me of my Gram. It is as good with the morning coffee as it is with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the evening. Even die-hard chocolate cake fans like this simple spice cake, and being successfully sourdoughized makes me more happy than I can relate. Does this mean that cake season is upon me? I think so. I'd better go brew another pot of coffee, since it looks like rain for the next few days...

This post has been Yeastspotted.


  1. Excellent! It's funny and also makes sense that we both made applesauce cake. I loved mine, but will need to try this too!

  2. Thought I would let you know that I made this last night. I forgot to add the oil in and the cake was just fine. Still very moist. The one problem I did encounter was the sweetness. I added just shy of 1 3/4 cups of sugar and the cake turned out extremely sweet. I have a note to try 1 to 1/1/4 cups next time. Other than I love that I can use my sourdough in this recipe!

    1. Thanks, Jeanette! You know, I haven't made this in a while - and I've started enjoying things less sweet than I used to. I'll remember to cut the sugar when I make it again!

  3. Hi. I'm posting from the UK and I'm not sure what you mean by applesauce. You say that it comes canned; is it something like stewed apple with sugar in it?

    I ask because I have some sourdough starter on the go (about to make my 2nd loaf tomorrow!) and want to do something with the discarded starter, and I also have a few eating apples that have gone past their best (so the kids won't eat them - fussy bunch!) and I wondered if I could turn the apples into "applesauce" and make this delicious-sounding cake.

    Thanks for the great website!


    1. Hi Neasy, and thanks!

      The applesauce we have here is just apples cooked down with water until they kind of fall apart... I have a post on making/canning some here: I tend not to add sugar, but some people do and most supermarket brands here have sweetener added.

      Basically, if you have a china cap or food mill just cook cut up whole apples (core, peel and all) in a large pot with a little water to get it going. Cook apples til soft, then pass thru the mill to strain out seeds, cores and peel. If you have no food mill, core and peel the apples and cook them down the same way until soft. Then, you should be able to mash them up with a potato smasher. Hope you have good luck!!

  4. Hi again,

    Just reporting back; the cake was DELICIOUS - I used half muscovado (brown) sugar and half vanilla sugar and it was scrumptious. We had it for dessert with custard - lovely.

    Also, the sourdough bread was superb. I think I must have a great sourdough starter - must thank my friend Howard properly!

    Thanks for the help,


    1. I'm so glad it worked out for you! It's definitely still one of my favorites!

  5. Just discovered your website and am loving all the sourdough recipes. Would like to try this one, but am wondering if you think subbing in pumpkin for the applesauce would work? Hoping so! (Sounds like I'll also reduce the sugar, as noted, and perhaps use einkorn flour.) Thanks!

    1. Hi Amanda! I think mixing pumpkin instead of applesauce would be great idea. Last week, I made a pumpkin-banana bread using equal parts (by weight) of pumpkin and banana... I might begin by trying this recipe using 1 c. of applesauce and 1 c. of pumpkin, just to start (and because I'm not sure how the pumpkin would take to fermenting). If you try it, please let me know! Maybe, I'll give it a go too when I need a cake next :)

  6. OH, great advice! thank you. I will try it soon and let you know :)


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