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Sourdough Surprises: Create waves with cake

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When it comes to making sourdough cakes, many recipes say to just add unfed starter straight from the fridge. It's certainly as quick a method as making any creamed cake.
But from experience, I've found that a well-fed bubbly starter gives cakes better rise and lightens them. It takes at least two days to make the cake, but I think it's worth it.
So when Sourdough Surprises suggested cakes this month, I got started immediately. I've made chocolate, banana, and carrot sourdough cakes before and it would be a different flavour this time – I decided on matcha – but I also wanted an interesting appearance.
At first glance, this looks like any layer cake, but the design is actually made in an unusual way. I'd seen this cake with the wavy pattern on a few blogs and was intrigued. The original cake is just a rich butter cake and in Malay, it's called "Kek Alunan Kasih" – which leads me to believe that it may be a Malaysian invention – and this is translated as Waves of Love Cake. "Alunan" is also the word for "melody", which makes sense too since the pattern does look like sound waves. (Or perhaps something you might see on a heart monitor?) I didn't do the effect so well, but take a look at these better examples.
One blogger mentioned that it looked like a topographic map – as in geography – and that's the description I like best.
The outside of the cake (left); the waves in the crumb 
The process of creating the strata and waves is not difficult, but it is a bit fiddly. The cake batter – which has a dropping consistency  is divided and coloured, and after each layer, cocoa powder is sifted on top before another layer of cake batter is put on. The difficulty is in trying to level the batter over the cocoa powder without disturbing it. However, you don't want to make the layers too smooth because then the wavy effect would be lost. You can taste the cocoa but it's not very prominent.
Even without the strata, the cake is good on its own. The layers can be any colour (and from that link I provide above, you can see some kooky tie-dye combinations!) and the cake can be any flavour (the matcha powder is my cake provides the flavour and colour). I based it loosely on the sourdough chocolate cake from King Arthur Flour which I made some time ago, replacing the cocoa powder in the batter with all-purpose flour. This is a good basic recipe, and lends itself to other flavours.

Create waves with this cake
'Topographic Map' Sourdough Matcha-Vanilla Cake
10-12 servings. Cup measures are approximate.

90g (½ cup) refreshed 100%-hydration sourdough starter
110g (½ cup) whole milk
150g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

Final batter
60g (6 tbsp) all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
140g (¾ cup) caster sugar
110g (½ cup) butter, softened
1 medium egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp matcha powder, mixed with 1 tbsp of water into a paste

Wave pattern
2½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa

Combine the starter, milk and flour in a large mixing bowl. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight or let rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours. If chilled, take it out of the fridge an hour before proceeding with the final batter.
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease and base line a 20cm by 11cm (8"x4½") loaf pan.
Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Cut the preferment into four or five pieces. Beat one piece at a time into the butter mixture, blending well each time. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture. The batter will have a soft dropping consistency.
Divide the batter into two equal portions and place in separate bowls. Take about 2 tablespoons from one portion and mix with the matcha paste. Blend this mixture into that same half-portion of cake batter.
How to create the layers
Spoon half of the white batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the surface (1). Sift one-third of the cocoa powder evenly over the top of the batter (2). Using half of the green matcha batter, distribute small dollops all over the cocoa powder (3) and then spread them out without disturbing the cocoa powder (4). Sift another third of the cocoa powder over this batter. Repeat the layering process with the white batter, then the remaining cocoa powder (5) and finish with the matcha batter on top (6).
Bake the cake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the centre, and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and cool completely on the rack. Best to allow a day before eating.


  1. Hi Jane! I had never heard of this technique before, and I love it! Your cake looks amazing! I sure want to give this a try.I'm finally back to blogging after a long while. I missed all the fun! Glad to be back!

    1. So glad you're back Renata. I always get so many ideas from reading your blog!

  2. really enjoying your recent posts on sourdough cakes because i always have so much sourdough and i've never actually used it in a cake before. gotta try this out asap!

  3. It looks beautiful! I'm sure it tastes as good as it looks!

  4. I love this!
    I normally don't make layered/marbled cakes as I can never be bothered to split the batter - I know, I'm terribly lazy - but you may have just convinced me!
    The colours are gorgeous and I love the tiny cocoa stripe running between the layers.
    Plus I've never baked with matcha before. Matcha and vanilla, what a lovely sounding combination!

  5. I tried to comment earlier but blogspot hates me! LOL!

    That cakes is just beautiful. The layers are magnificent!

  6. What a unique looking cake! Need to try it when I'm getting some company!

  7. This cake is darling, love how how you made the waves! Look yummers as well, so worth the effort!

  8. This is such a cool idea! I've never seen a cake like this is my whole life, and I would love a nice big slice. :)

    Glad to be baking with our starters together!

  9. This is so cool! One of the neatest looking cakes I've seen in a while, sourdough or otherwise! Thanks for sharing the technique :)

  10. What a beautiful cake and perfect for spring or St. Patrick's Day. I love your needlework background just as much though!

  11. In a word~ Wow! Your cake is amazing:) Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  12. Oh wow, I love this - it looks so cool!

  13. Oh my gosh, I LOVE the look of that cake, and I bet it tasted amazing, too! I am pinning this one - I can't wait to give it a try!!

  14. It looks like a relief map to me too! Love it!

  15. I love the layered effect. All the tie die colors are neat, but yours looks good too, in a more natural way.

  16. Holy crap this is the coolest cake I have ever seen!!! The layered effect is awesome, I love it! Great flavor, too, I always want to make a matcha cake, but have never had the guts to use all my matcha tea, haha! Thanks for baking with us this month, I always love seeing what you make! :)

  17. This looks really cool, and I've never head of matcha. I love learning about new things!

  18. I have made this cake using butter cake recipe and really like it! Yours looks absolutely delicious!

  19. This would be a fun school treat during a geography unit!


Your views are welcome and appreciated. Have a nice day!