My interest in bread baking continues to grow, which means I always have a hungry starter sitting on our kitchen counter. Most often I throw out the excess, but lately I’ve been daydreaming of other ways to use it: cinnamon buns, pancakes, muffins, banana bread, etc. A quickbread/cake seemed like an easy place to start, so when I saw this simple recipe for coffee cake it seemed like the perfect opportunity to expand my sourdough baking horizons beyond bread!
I initially had a REAL hard time playing around with this recipe. Even though the original is a great starting off point, I kept making changes because I am slowly trying to gravitate towards baking in a more wholesome way. Don’t get me wrong, I could never give up doughnuts or pies or the amazing focaccia at Pasta G; but since I like to have treats fairly often, I want them to be slightly better for me so I can have them more often. What that means for me is less sugar, trying to use more natural sweeteners, and swapping white flour for whole grain options more often.
After many trials with dates/maple syrup and ending up with heavy cake that never seemed to be done in the middle, I decided to go back to sugar, for now.. Maple syrup is almost entirely sucrose which makes it chemically similar to cane sugar anyway, and both will spike your insulin levels. While maple syrup is unrefined and therefore has some minerals present, your body will still recognize it as sugar and respond the same as if you’d eaten regular sugar. However, I reduced the amount of sweetener from the original recipe which also allows the flavours of the rhubarb and whole grains to shine through.
Notes about the flours: look for whole/dark rye flour (not light) which still has the bran and the germ, which house most of the nutrients and fats in the grain. The white whole wheat flour can probably be substituted for regular whole wheat, but I haven’t tried it. White whole wheat flour is made from hard white wheat, whereas whole wheat flour is generally made from hard red wheat. The former bakes up a little bit lighter, whereas the latter is slightly more bitter, bakes a little more densely, but both contain the healthy bran and germ.
sourdough rhubarb crumb cake (vegan, vegan option)
adapted from here
100 g / 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
50 g / 1/3 cup whole rye flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
125 g / 3/4 cup sourdough starter (100% hydration)
75 g / 1/3 cup coconut oil, softened + more to grease the pan
1/4 cup apple sauce OR 1 egg*
120 g / 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
110 g / 1 cup rhubarb, diced small (tossed with 2 teaspoons white whole wheat flour if frozen)
50 g / 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
38 g / 1/3 cup rye flakes
35 g / 1/3 cup sliced almonds
30 g / 2 tablespoons sugar
30 g / 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
optional toppings: coconut whipped cream, yogurt, ice cream
Crumb topping: mix together the flour, flakes, almonds, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the coconut oil and stir until combined, then put in the fridge.
Cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir together the wet ingredients in a large bowl, being careful not to over mix. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and incorporate gently with a spatula, again being careful not to overmix (a couple dry streaks are okay, but less stirring results in a more tender cake). Fold in the rhubarb. Grease a 9 inch pie or cake pan and spread the mixture evenly into the pan. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top, then place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
*using apple sauce will make the cake more tender/crumbly, whereas the egg will provide a bit more binding.
PS a handful of ripe strawberries would be a welcome addition to this cake 😉