This weekend, I meant to bake something. I went to a potluck brunch at our community pool and I meant to bring something made with sourdough starter. The perfect intersection of necessity (to use starter regularly) and opportunity. But the opportunity to bake something did not come. I was busy every time I had hoped to do it. I wound up bringing roasted vegetables (broccoli, onions and red pepper) that I’d tossed with Sriracha and apple cider vinegar— something I’d prepped earlier in the week for use as a side dish and then didn’t use. (I thought I’d eat it as a cold salad and heat it for mom, who likes her food hot more often than I do). It went over… better than I thought it would, among the French toast and fruit trays, and I used the leftovers in a pasta salad I’ve been meaning to make, so it’s all good.
Yesterday, I was ready to bake. I woke up with the idea of a peanut butter and jelly coffee cake, made with sourdough starter. I wanted something a little less sweet than my last outing (cherry-lime cake with cherry-lime sauce, which was delicious, but less of a coffee cake and more of a dessert cake. Want that recipe too? Well, if you insist.)
I don’t know where I got the idea that peanut butter and jelly cake was a thing, but the internet was not helpful in leading me to a recipe to use for the foundations. I could abandon the idea and do something else, but have you met me? What are the odds that I would actually let it go?
So I looked for an unrelated recipe that I could render unrecognizable. And I found it! Sourdough carrot cake! Thank you King Arthur Flour people! Here’s how I messed with your recipe to invent something that appears hitherto unknown. And because it appears hitherto unknown, if you cite it, please be sure to cite me as your source!
I followed the recipe exactly through the eggs, and then I made ridiculous substitutions based on things that worked for me. For the pineapple, I substituted my mom’s favorite crunchy peanut butter. For the carrot, I substituted grated zucchini that I had frozen (to make way for the bumper crop of zucchini that I hope is growing in my garden now!) I ignored the walnuts as is my wont, and threw in the ends of aging preserves instead of coconut. I happened to throw in the end of a jar of homemade spiced crabapple preserves and some homemade peach butter in the amount of about 1/2 cup. This brings me to the only change I’d suggest— if you’d really like it to be a PB&J cake, I might do a cup of the preserves you can’t stand looking at anymore (or your favorites— no judgment for you jelly-lovers. In fact, you’re the key to emptying those jars in my pantry, so feel free to eat all you want. It’s too sweet for me, but mazel tov to you). This was very specifically a peanut butter cake, with only the faintest whisper of jelly. I was worried because of all that sugar that it would end up too sweet. I’ve also thought of substituting the jelly for some or all of the sugar. Another remedy might be to make it as described and drizzle warmed preserves over it— go forth and innovate, because heaven knows I will.
I followed the rest of the directions for the cake exactly (and ignored the frosting directions because I was going for not-too-sweet). I made a bundt (I grease and flour when I bake, these days, hence the mottled appearance of the outside) and wound up with enough batter for a dozen muffins and a mini, mini-loaf. I cooked the muffins 15 minutes less and the mini-mini loaf about 5 minutes less. I turned the oven off and let the cake sit in the cooling oven for a few minutes, because although it tested as done, it jiggled a little in the pan, and I wanted to be sure it was all the way done. I froze the muffins and mini loaf.
Mom said that the cake was just right and remarked on how much she liked it several times that day. I was pleased with how it came out— super-moist, nice crust, the peanut-buttery-ness front and center.
If you’re curious about how sourdough starter tastes in a quickbread, I’m starting to get a faint banana taste, in addition to the flavors you’d imagine. It may be the bourbon-based vanilla I use, and not the sourdough, but it’s the only taste in there that I can identify that might come from the sourdough. Which is to say that it basically disappears, and you shouldn’t worry about it.