Sourdough Gingerbread is a rich cake reminiscent of days gone by. Plus, no one will guess you used sourdough starter discard (unless you tell them!)
Memories of a long-ago trip
Many years ago, my DH & I went to New Zealand. It was a wonderful trip through a beautiful country (that had many sheep!). As we traveled, we stayed at a motel chain called the Flag Inn…we’d stay a night, then call ahead to the next location where we’d thought we’d be for the next night’s reservation. One of the benefits of this chain was that every morning by the door there would be fresh whole milk (in a bottle, no less!) and a loaf of gingerbread. That loaf had a deep, rich flavor without being overly assertive or bitter…in other words, utterly delicious.
I’ve been trying for years to recreate a gingerbread that mimics that long-ago loaf, and I think I’ve finally got it. Even better, in my never-ending search for recipes in which to use my sourdough starter discard, it can be used in this recipe without detection. Yup, I now make Sourdough Gingerbread.
Sourdough can be sweet
You know I’ve used my weekly sourdough starter in bagels, pretzels, and English muffins, but what about sweets? Well, as long as the baked good you’re making has a strong enough flavor, sourdough starter can be substituted into a sweet recipe successfully. While I wouldn’t use starter discard in vanilla cupcakes, I’ve used it to make Sourdough Spice Cake, Sourdough Crumb Cake, and Sourdough Chocolate Cake. Imagine the possibilities!
My discard has a 50/50 ratio of flour to water. So, to substitute in 1 cup (8 oz) of starter (a convenient amount as that’s my weekly discard), I remove 1 cup (4 oz, 113g) of flour and ½ cup (4 oz, 113g) water from the recipe amounts. There is a slight tang, but again, for strongly flavored items it’s not a problem.
Some important notes
I adapted this Sourdough Gingerbread recipe from Epicurious’ Old-Fashioned Gingerbread with Molasses Whipped Cream. This recipe, like most quick bread, comes together quickly and can be made in different forms…as a cake, loaf, or even muffins. One caveat…it’s important that you use a proper sized pan…this recipe will overflow if you’re not careful. You can use a 9- x 9-inch baking pan or 2 standard loaf pans, but not smaller pans. If you’re concerned about overflow, place the pans on a half-sheet baking pan before placing in the oven.
One complaint I have (and other commenters on Epicurious’ original recipe had) is that the gingerbread sinks in the middle. I did some research and found that maybe the recipe called for too much baking soda. According to Tasting Spoons, “To keep [the] gingerbread recipe from sinking in the middle, [add] the baking soda with the wet ingredients and [mix] the batter to strengthen the flour, giving [the] gingerbread a more sturdy texture while maintaining its moistness.” I haven’t tried it yet, but I might reduce the baking soda to ½ – 1 teaspoon next time and see if it helps. If you try it, please let me know how it goes.
Sourdough Gingerbread is yummy on its own, but add lightly sweetened whipped cream (how about bourbon whipped cream?) or vanilla ice cream and you’ve really got a scrumptious dessert. And it’s not just for dessert…as that trip to New Zealand proved, gingerbread for breakfast is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged! Ah…good memories.
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
- 9- x 9-inch baking pan
- parchment paper
- stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar (5-1/4 oz,150g)
- 1/4 cup sugar (1-3/4 oz, 50g)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz, 113g), room temperature
- 3/4 cup molasses (9 oz, 255g), mild-flavored (light), not blackstrap
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard (8 oz, 230g), room temperature
- 1 cup all purpose flour (4-1/4 oz, 120g)
- 2 tsp baking soda, see Recipe Notes
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup chilled whipping cream (2 oz, 56g)
- 1/4 cup boiling water (2 oz, 56g)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9- x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, then spray with baking spray.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or hand mixer), beat the brown sugar, sugar, and butter in large bowl until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in molasses, then eggs 1 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the sourdough starter and blend on low speed until just combined.
- In a small bowl, sift in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together. Add to wet ingredients and mix on low speed. Beat in the cream, then the boiling water. Transfer the batter to prepared pan.
- Bake the cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
- Cool the cake in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely..
- Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!