|Herman when he arrived - pictured with my Danish bread dough whisk, |
which was a very cool xmas pressie from a friend, and I've been using it at every opportunity
As you know, I love trying fermentations. Fermenting is both a low energy and simple method of preserving food and way to partially digest and improve the food before we eat it. I make and eat fermented dairy products (yoghurt, kefir and cheese), fermented beverages (ginger ale, barley water and beet kvass), fermented vegetables (picked cucumbers and sauerkraut), and I "soak" all grains and flour with kefir or whey prior to cooking. In the case of rice and quinoa, if I want to cook these in the evening, that morning I put the grain in a pot with the correct amount of cooking water and a few tablespoons of kefir, and then cook them as normal in the evening. For bread, I mix up the flour and water in the morning and add the yeast and bake it in the afternoon. I hadn't figured out how to soak the flour for cake yet though... until Herman turned up.
|Herman after being fed, bubbling nicely :)|
Herman is a sourdough cake starter, which is similar to sourdough bread starter, but the difference is that the sourdough bread starter is used to both pre-ferment/soak the flour prior to baking AND to provide the yeast to rise the bread (for my bread method, I presoak with kefir and add conventional bakers yeast). In comparison, the cake starter is ONLY used to pre-ferment/soak the flour, as baking soda is used to rise the cake. This seems to have caused some confusion on some of the forum threads that I read, in which people wonder a) why the yeast is needed to bake the cake (answer: its not needed) and b) why you would want to leave it on your kitchen bench for 10 days (answer: to ferment the flour so that its easier to digest).
Once I figured out that Herman was a sourdough starter, I started to investigate all the cake recipes for Herman and for sourdough starters in general. I could have just made the recipe that came with Herman, but I really like chocolate cake, so of course I looked for something chocolate. I based my cake on this recipe, but you know I can't stick to a recipe, so here's what I really did:
|the finished product, to encourage you to keep reading...|
- the night before I made the cake I followed these instructions to feed Herman, instead of the instructions that came with him. I honestly didn't want to make so much starter, so I didn't want to add 1 cup of flour AND 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of milk and then have excess to give away, so I only used half a cup of flour and half a cup of flour, and I washed 1 cup of the starter down the sink first (I know! I felt awful doing this! but I gather that this is essential to make room for the fresh ingredients).
- In the morning I combined 1 cup of the now very bubbly Herman, with 2 cups of organic white flour and 1 cup of raw milk.
- In the afternoon I then combined 1 cup of rapadura sugar, 1 cup of cocoa, 1.5 tsp of baking soda, 1 cup of coconut oil, a splash of vanilla essence and 2 eggs. I then mixed in the starter mixture. It was very think and difficult to mix, I didn't want to ruin it by mixing too much, so it ended up a bit of a marble cake :)
- I then baked it in the Weber BBQ for about an hour at around 180degC until it seemed cooked
- Served warm with natural yoghurt (I can never be bothered with icing), it was delicious!