The Reason You Should Try Adding Sourdough Starter To Cake Batter

Leftover sourdough starter is a cooking problem that was once reserved for only the most dedicated home bread bakers. Then, after sourdough baking saw an unexpected breakthrough as a lockdown hobby, it just as quickly seemed to recede back to the realm of the niche. The sourdough craze may have run its course and filtered out the casuals, but one benefit of its brief moment in the spotlight was a surge in people wondering what to do with their sourdough discard. What has once been an issue for you to fumble with in your kitchen became the subject of baking experts across the internet, who left us with hundreds of recipes for leftover sourdough.

The ways you can use your sourdough discard are pretty endless. From biscuits to pizza dough, Kitchn states that by simply weighing your discard with a scale, you can substitute it into almost any recipe. Sourdough should be half flour, half water, so it's easy to subtract out that amount of fresh flour and water from your English muffin mix, and then put that starter to delicious use. 

One option that doesn't get mentioned often when talking about sourdough is cake. Compared to say, a pancake, it may not seem like a natural fit for sourdough flavor. But cake can actually benefit in a number of ways from your starter's properties.

Sourdough improves a cake's flavor and texture

It doesn't matter if you are going with a decadent chocolate, or a bright lemon, you want two things out of cake: First, you want that knock-you-out flavor that makes cake a shorthand for indulgence. Second, you want it to be moist and tender with a soft texture your fork cuts through like butter. Sourdough discard is going to help you do both of those things. 

Gluten formation is the enemy of tender cake, and according to King Arthur Baking, your sourdough will do double duty on the texture front: The gluten in the discard's flour has already broken down as it fermented and the acid developed during the sourdough process will help inhibit the gluten in the rest of your cake's flour. The result will be cake with a tenderness above and beyond what you could have done with your standard recipe.

The acid from your sourdough will also help your cake's flavor. As America's Test Kitchen notes, acid works like salt in that it can brighten and enhance existing flavors in your recipe. Too much sourness from a starter can overwhelm other tastes, but the acid you get from mixing in your sourdough discard will help the other ingredients pop. Just think of what acidic buttermilk does for a red velvet cake and you'll understand. 

With these kinds of results, you may start using your discard more than the sourdough itself.