Sourdough Gingerbread is a rich cake reminiscent of days gone by. Plus, no one will guess you used sourdough starter discard (unless you tell them!)
Rich gingerbread with a secret
I’ve been trying for years to recreate old-fashioned gingerbread that mimics one I had many years ago, and I think I’ve finally got it. Even better, in my never-ending search for recipes in which to use my sourdough starter discard, it can be used in this recipe without detection.
Yup, I now make Sourdough Gingerbread.
Sourdough items can be sweet
You know I’ve used my weekly sourdough starter in bagels, pretzels, and English muffins, but what about sweets items? Well, as long as the baked good you’re making has a strong enough flavor, unfed sourdough starter can be substituted into a sweet recipe successfully.
While I wouldn’t use sourdough starter discard in vanilla cupcakes, I’ve used it to make Sourdough Pumpkin Cake, Sourdough Spice Cake, Sourdough Crumb Cake, and Sourdough Chocolate Cake. Imagine the possibilities!
How to adapt a recipe for sourdough starter discard
My discard has a 50/50 ratio of flour to water. So, to substitute in 1 cup (8 oz, 227g) of starter (a convenient amount as that’s my weekly discard), I remove 1 cup (4 oz, 113g) of flour and 1/2 cup (4 oz, 113g) water from the recipe amounts.
There is a slight tang, but again, for strongly flavored items it’s not a problem.
I adapted this Sourdough Gingerbread recipe from Epicurious’ Old-Fashioned Gingerbread with Molasses Whipped Cream. This recipe, like most quick breads, comes together quickly and can be made in different forms...as a cake, loaf, or even muffins.
What you need
- Light brown sugar: Adds sweetness and moisture to the cake
- Sugar: Add sweetness
- Unsalted butter: Fat contributes richness and flavor
- Molasses: Use a mild-flavored (light), not blackstrap. The flavor is bold enough
- Eggs: Gives the cake structure
- Sourdough starter discard: I have it...I'll use it
- All-purpose flour: The basic starting point of any cake
- Baking soda: This chemical leavening agent lets the cake rise
- Cinnamon, ginger, cloves: All the spices that give gingerbread its distinctive flavor
- Salt: Helps to counterbalance the sweetness and adds a flavor undertone
- Heavy cream: Adds richness, moisture, and flavor
- Boiling water: In addition to adding liquid, boiling water helps to distribute the thick molasses into the batter.
It’s important that you use a proper sized pan for this gingerbread recipe as it will overflow if you’re not careful. You can use a 9- x 9-inch baking pan or 2 standard loaf pans, but don't use smaller pans.
If you’re concerned about overflow, place the pans on a half-sheet baking pan before placing in the oven.
One complaint I have (and other commenters on Epicurious' original recipe had) is that the gingerbread sinks in the middle. I did some research and found that maybe the recipe called for too much baking soda.
According to Tasting Spoons, “To keep [the] gingerbread recipe from sinking in the middle, [add] the baking soda with the wet ingredients and [mix] the batter to strengthen the flour. [This gives the] gingerbread a more sturdy texture while maintaining its moistness.”
I reduced the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon and added it in with the sourdough starter discard. Please let me know how it goes for you.
Sourdough Gingerbread is yummy on its own, but add lightly sweetened whipped cream (how about bourbon whipped cream?) or vanilla ice cream and you’ve really got a scrumptious dessert. Actually, it's good for anytime of day...breakfast, brunch, or afternoon snack.
Gingerbread with a secret...I won't tell if you won't!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Recipes using sourdough starter discard
When you maintain a sourdough starter, you have a dilemma...what to do with your sourdough starter discard? I've got lots of suggestions for sweet and savory ways to use your fed sourdough starter and sourdough starter discard. Watch this space!
- Sourdough Bagels
- Sourdough Pretzels
- Sourdough Dinner Rolls
- Sourdough English Muffins
- Herb Sourdough Ciabatta Rolls
- Sourdough Jerusalem Bagels - no boiling required!
- Sourdough Focaccia
- Multigrain Sourdough Sandwich Bread
- Sourdough Rye Sandwich Bread
- Chocolate Chip Sourdough Banana Bread
- Sourdough Pumpkin Cake
- Sourdough Gingerbread
- Sourdough Naan
And, if you sign up for my weekly notification (in the sidebar of this page), I’ll send you a link for my Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread recipe! Such tangy goodness...I can't even.
Old-Fashioned Sourdough Gingerbread
- parchment paper
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, (5-1/4 oz,150g)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar, (1-3/4 oz, 50g)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (4 oz, 114g)
- ¾ cup molasses, mild-flavored (light), not blackstrap (9 oz, 255g)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard, room temperature (8 oz, 227g)
- ½ tsp baking soda, see Recipe Notes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, (4-1/4 oz, 120g)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup heavy cream, (2 oz, 56g)
- ¼ cup water, boiling (2 oz, 56g)
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or hand mixer), beat the brown sugar, granulater sugar, and butter in large bowl until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in molasses, then eggs 1 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the sourdough starter and baking soda and blend on low speed until just combined.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Beat in the cream, then the boiling water. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
- Bake the cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, aobut 40-50 minutes.
- Cool the cake in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.
- Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!