Almond Sourdough Cake | Episode 3: Halloween Wars

Chocolate, raspberry, and almond all woven into the same bite of cake that's made oh so tender by the addition of sourdough starter. It was a massive hit when I competed on Food Network's Halloween Wars, and it'll be a huge hit for you, too.

When I was tasked to create a sourdough cake for Episode 3 of Food Network's Halloween Wars: Season 12 - I quickly gravitated towards working with this almond cake. Almond has a great complimentary nature and pairs well with other flavors. It just plays nicely with so many things. I wanted to give my sourdough cake some interest, without covering up the ever-so-slight tang from the sourdough. 

Until I was in pastry school, I had never really considered a sourdough cake before. I had heard of a few people putting sourdough discard in waffles, pizza dough, muffins, and other things - but, I just hadn't even thought of making it myself. It just sounded so strange. I wondered if it would make the cake chewy or tough. I wondered if my cake would turn out to actually be... sour. 

However, through some research in perfecting the cake, I discovered that the sourdough starter actually does the opposite. It helps to tenderize the cake. It makes it more moist, tender, and delicious. It's genius really. What a perfect and delicious way to get rid of extra sourdough discard once you've fed your starter. I always feel bad for just throwing it away ... no more ! Make a cake out of it!

There is something so nostalgic to me about the flavor of almonds. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it is from my mom always adding a splash of almond extract to every batch of buttercream she made when I was a kid. or, all of those maraschino cherries I ate atop ice cream, that taste heavily of almond extract. I just love it. 

As the second part of the challenge, we had to incorporate a type of chocolate, due to our San Fransisco's Alcatraz theme. I was given "milk chocolate" as my special ingredient. So, I decided to make the most rich and luxurious French buttercream to go with our tender, sourdough cake. It's been one of my favorite buttercreams for years. This buttercream is perfect when made with any type of chocolate. Milk chocolate might be my favorite.

In hopes of cutting some of the sweetness from the milk chocolate, I decided to make a tart raspberry jam to balance and brighten up the cake. I also wanted to add some crunch, so I added some toasted, sliced almonds. I love using a variety of textures in cakes.

Tips for Making a Sourdough Cake:

- When making this cake batter, you want to make sure that you do not overmix it. You must treat it carefully. The sourdough starter is a secondary leavening agent. You don't want to beat the mess out of it. We want to fold it in at the very end. 

- Make sure to not add too many other leaving agents. We need the help from baking powder, but we do not want to add too much. This will cause the cake to rise and sink. The cake needs a happy medium - leavening from both sourdough starter and baking powder. 

- Be careful to make sure you measure accurately. Too much (or too less) of any one ingredient could drastically change the final texture and taste of this cake. I always, always use a scale to measure my ingredients. It's much more accurate. It's cleaner, faster, and easier. I promise - once you start using a scale to bake and cook with, you will NEVER go back. Trust me. 


Steps to Make Almond Sourdough Cake:

1. Mix together eggs, sugar, and extracts in a large bowl. Mix by hand with a whisk - to ensure you do not overmix the batter.

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix.

3. Heat milk, butter, and oil in a saucepan until boiling. 

4. Alternating between wet and dry, add the dry ingredients and milk mixture into the large bowl with the sugar, eggs, and extracts.

5. Carefully whisk until not quite combined.

6. Add in the sourdough starter and whisk it in carefully. Once incorporated, stop mixing. 

7. Bake cakes until golden and cooked through.

8. Let the cakes cool, and once cooled - layer them up with whatever icing and fillings you desire. I highly recommend the Milk Chocolate French Buttercream and Tart Raspberry Jam. I promise it'll be a hit.

Looking for other cakes & desserts?

- A tender muffin that's savory and packed with flavor is a perfect addition to your recipe box and to your weekly meal plan. It's great for breakfast or for breakfast-for-dinner. This Ham and Cheese Muffin is so good.

- Cinnamon spice & everything nice ... this Churro Cake that I competed with in Halloween Wars episode 5 is a pretty stellar one, and it has so many great textures and flavors. An almond streusel, cinnamon spice cake, strawberry chili jam, and so many yummy bites of goodness.

- Making cupcakes, ice cream sundaes, or a steamy cup of coffee that needs a little something extra? This Fool Proof Salted Caramel Sauce is where it's at. It's easy, quick, and basically fool proof ... like the name says. 

Made the recipe?
Mention @rosemarywhisk or tag #rosemarywhisk!