There is cake and there is cake. Of the really good ones, some are dazzling, others unassuming. This one is of the second variety. A simple dessert relying in a large part on a century-old leavener for lightness. When birthdays are involved, I usually glaze it (with dark chocolate melted together with a bit of butter and a hint of powdered sugar) but most of the time, I leave it bare or just sprinkle it with confectioners’ sugar. Either way, it is always a hit and I love it that it makes use of surplus starter I might otherwise have to throw out.
The recipe is an adaptation of one I found on the King Arthur’s website (which I halved in this particular instance to tailor it to my shallow flower-shaped French mold). When I make the whole recipe instead of halving it (and I usually do), I use a nine-inch springform pan and I bake the cake a while longer.
* This time, I used Sonora whole wheat pastry flour that I bought from Nan Kohler in Los Angeles a couple of months ago but in the past, I have made this cake with unbleached all-purpose flour or with regular white whole wheat flour. They both work perfectly but you may find, as I did, that using a locally grown and milled soft wheat brings it an intriguing flavor and a lovely texture. I am not sure how the recipe would turn out with regular whole wheat flour though. It might be too heavy and the taste of the grain might be overwhelming.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the more interesting the flavor of your starter, the tastier your cake will be. In other words, this is a good recipe to make on bread-baking day: you will probably have taken your starter out of the fridge a couple of days before, kept it at room temperature and fed it regularly. It will be bubbly and happy and at its peak in every way. That’s the way you want it, both for bread and for cake.
- Combine mature starter, milk and flour in large bowl. Cover and let rest at warmish room temperature for 2 to 3 hours or until somewhat expanded
- Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C and lightly oil a cake pan
- In another bowl, beat together sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda and cocoa
- Incorporate the egg
- Gently combine chocolate mixture with the levain-flour-milk mixture, stirring till smooth
- Pour batter into prepared pan
- Bake the cake for 30 to 40 minutes until it springs back when lightly pressed in the center and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean
- Remove from oven and cool on a rack