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Recipe: Apple sourdough cake from Modern Baker: A New Way to Bake

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Written by:
Recipe: Apple sourdough cake from Modern Baker: A New Way to Bake

This is the ultimate apple cake. The use of the sweet starter transports this cake to another level, giving it a rich, indulgent flavour without being too cloying or sweet.

The flavour of this cake actually improves after a couple of days, but don’t worry if you can’t wait that long as it’s also delicious still warm from the oven, especially with a dollop of fresh cream or coconut yoghurt. As an added bonus, it also freezes well.

Day 1

• 50g coconut sugar

• 50g milk

• 50g spelt flour

• Active sweet starter (see below)

Add the sugar, milk and flour to the whole quantity of the sweet starter. Mix well and leave loosely covered at room temperature overnight.

Day 2

• 150g recipe starter made on Day 1

• 180g coconut oil, melted

• 2 eggs

• 2tsp vanilla extract

• 200g coconut sugar, plus extra for topping

• 225g spelt flour

• 2tsp baking powder

• Pinch of salt

• 2tsp ground cinnamon

• 1 apple, unpeeled, cored and chopped into chunks

• 1 apple, unpeeled, cored and sliced thinly, for decorating the top

Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a 20cm round, deep, loose-bottom cake tin with baking parchment.

In a large bowl combine the recipe starter, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Mix well.

In another bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the apple chunks – by coating them in flour you prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake as it bakes.

Add the flour and apple mix to the wet mix and combine well.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin, top with the apple slices and sprinkle with coconut sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Sweet starter
The reason we use a sourdough starter in our bread is because it adds flavour, texture and health qualities. So why wouldn’t we use one in some of our cakes as well? If we could achieve just one healthy baking result, it would be to get sourdough cakes accepted and understood for what they really have to offer baking. We have created our own special sweet starter, which is different from a bread starter in that it has a fruity, caramelly flavour. As with the bread starter, you keep some of it back for your next cake. Once it’s going, it is in theory yours forever, and unique to you.

We use spelt flour and cow’s milk, but for a gluten-free version simply use brown rice flour, and for plant-based use any dairy-free milk of your choice, such as oat, almond or coconut.

Day 1

• 1tsp milk

• 1tsp spelt flour

• 1tsp coconut sugar

In a container with a lid, mix the milk, spelt flour and coconut sugar. We recommend mixing with your hands rather than a spoon. As disgusting as it might sound, we all have naturally occurring yeasts on our hands, so this can give your starter a boost.

Leave the mixture overnight at room temperature. Cover with the lid but do not make it airtight. A screw-top jar with the lid partly done up is perfect. You want the yeasts in the air to get in, but you want to stop the mixture drying out.

Day 2

• Sweet starter made on Day 1

• 1tsp milk

• 1tsp spelt flour

• 1tsp coconut sugar

Discard half of your Day 1 mix and to what’s left, add the milk, spelt flour and coconut sugar. Leave at room temperature overnight as before.

Days 3 and 4

• Repeat Day 2.

Day 5

By now your starter should be bubbling away. If it is not, continue to repeat Day 2 until it is. Once bubbling, top it up with the quantities required for your recipe and leave overnight.

This keeps well in the fridge, so make sure you never use it all up on a recipe, always keep some behind for next time. And don’t worry if it seems to have split when you take it out of the fridge, just give it a good stir and add your topping-up ingredients.

Recipe taken from Modern Baker. Photography by Laura Edwards

Apple sourdough cake from Modern Baker: A New Way to Bake by Melissa Sharp with Lindsay Stark
Apple sourdough cake from Modern Baker: A New Way to Bake by Melissa Sharp with Lindsay Stark

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