I think I need help. I truly do. I mean, my life is being taken over by the things I make. Just look at the wild yeast starter for instance. It requires to be fed twice a day. Each time I feed it, I can only keep a small portion of it and the rest, well, the rest has to be either thrown out or used, right? And if I decide to use it, it’s now or never. The wee beasties won’t wait. Not even one hour. When they are ready, they are ready. Either you put them to work or they kamikaze into oblivion, turning embittered and nasty along the way.
So I have no choice. And it’s eating me. I don’t have either the time (I am back out of retirement working full-time until mid-December) or enough hungry mouths to feed (even though I do have a fair number of those, counting immediate family, friends and neighbors), to bake every single day. But I hate to throw food away. I just hate it.
So the other day I made the sourdough chocolate cake from the King Arthur website. It came out voluptuously plump (I didn’t even have time to frost it, it went out to my daughter’s house in its birthday suit, demurely cloaked in confectioner’s sugar, and pff! it was gone, no picture, sorry!). It had been so quickly put together that yesterday I decided I might as well make another cake. See how easy thrift entraps you in its twisted logic!
However, since I was being virtuous (making a cake we didn’t need to save wild yeasts we didn’t need either), I decided to take stock and look around. What else did I have to use in a hurry before it turned on me? Three pears which were definitely starting to look like they were ready to go over the hill, some fresh ginger which was shriveling under my eyes and a pint of creamy homemade yogurt (which was perfectly fresh as I had just made it the day before but which I also had to find a use for, right?).
I also had a big jar of hazelnut butter that a friend brought me from France a few months ago and I looove the taste of pears with hazelnuts and ginger. So here is what I came up with! Totally haphazard (hey, I even forgot to put eggs in) but it worked! It’s going out tonight to some friends. Maybe I’ll be able to sneak a slice back home. My starter is back on timeout in the fridge, so I won’t be baking tomorrow. Too bad…
Ingredients (for one 9×9 square cake and 11 hazelnut-ginger babycakes):
(if you are making just the cake, use half of all the ingredients except the first four)
15g butter, melted
25g light brown sugar
3 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
50g candied ginger, sliced or chopped
240g mature sourdough starter (hydration: 100%)
12 g ground ginger
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
12g baking soda
260g wholemilk yogurt
130g hazelnut butter, smooth (can be replaced by another roasted nut butter)
100g agave syrup
225g all-purpose flour
225g low-fat powdered milk, reconstituted
1 pinch of salt
pieces of candied ginger to top the babycakes (optional)
- Heat the oven to 375F/191C making sure the lower rack is in
- Put melted butter in the cake pan and rotate to spread evenly
- Dust with brown sugar
- Arrange the sliced pears on top
- Put the pan in the oven, bake for 20 minutes and take out of the oven
- Chop or slice candied ginger on top of the pears, pushing it with a teaspoon into the pear syrup at the bottom
- Meanwhile, gently fold all the other ingredients into the starter and mix well
- Pour the starter mixture into the pan until three quarter full
- Pour the rest (if using) into muffin pan paper liners, sticking a piece of candied ginger on top of each babycakes
- Bake at 375F/191C for 40 minutes (checking during the last 10 minutes that the cake or babycakes are not browning too fast. If this is the case, tent some foil over them. The cake and babycakes are done when a tester comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool for a few minutes in the pan on a rack
- Then, before the juices at the bottom have time to set and stick, turn the cake upside down on a plate.
- Let it cool completely before eating.