Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Celebrate Spring with Sourdough Coffeecake

It’s Spring!  I’ve been anticipating this day for weeks. I was so ready for warm weather, beautiful flowers, going hiking and planting my garden, but then on the first day of Spring, it turned cold again. What’s up with that! 

Well, we have a saying in Atlanta, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a day.” We’ve had ice storms in late March before so you just never know around here. That’s what I love about this city.

The first day of Spring also happened to fall on the day of the month that we reveal our sourdough surprise. The Sourdough Surprises challenge for March was to make a cake using our sourdough cultures. I almost made a chocolate cake or cupcakes, but since this is a blog about bread and not cake, I decided to make a sourdough coffeecake which has a consistency that is more like bread than cake. 



This coffeecake is really easy and versatile. You can use the dough to make crumb cake, cinnamon rolls, or sticky buns. You can make the dough with all-purpose flour or a mixture of flours as I did.  I used all-purpose and bread flour because I had a little bit of both but not enough of either for this recipe. I also included some white whole wheat flour for good measure.


Sourdough Coffeecake with Crumb Topping

Inspired by: Peter Reinhardt’s Coffee Crumb Cake from Artisan Breads Everyday

Makes: 1 Sheet Pan Coffeecake or three 9-inch round Coffeecakes



  • 1 cup (240 mL) fed sourdough starter (refer to this process)
  • ~3 1/2 cups (17.5 oz/490 g) all-purpose flour or bread flour (I used a mixture of both)
  • 1 cup (4 1/2 oz/3 g) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon (.5 oz/14 g) kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz/85 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (240 mL) lukewarm milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup (3 3/4 oz/110 g) olive oil
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon

Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup (4.5 oz/128 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (8 oz/113 g) light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (or other spice of your choice such as allspice, cloves, ground ginger, or cardamom), optional
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, or other nuts, optional
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/113 g) melted butter, unsalted



1) Activate (feed) your starter

I had fun experimenting with this one. I used my original sourdough starter which I’ve been keeping alive (sometimes barely) since 2007. I reactivated the starter using this process which takes about 12 to 16 hours, then it was ready to use in the recipe. My starter was quite bubbly and happy after being reactivated.



2) Make the dough

To make the dough, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the starter, lukewarm milk, and oil and mix on the lowest speed on your mixer.  Switch to medium-low speed and continue mixing.  Add more flour or milk as needed.  Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is soft, supple and slightly tacky, but not sticky.  You can also do this with a wooden spoon if you prefer.  It will just take a little bit longer.



3) Let dough rest in refrigerator

Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly for a minute.  Form it into a ball and place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl big enough for the dough to double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 4 days.  Make sure the plastic is tight to keep the surface of the dough from getting hard.



4) Form the coffeecake

Remove the dough about 3 hours before you plan to bake the coffeecake.



Line your baking pan with lightly oiled parchment paper. Dip you fingers in some olive oil and use your fingers to dimple the dough and spread it evenly in the pan. Cover the pan as evenly as you can. If it starts to shrink back, let it rest for 20 minutes, then continue to dimple and spread again until the dough covers the pan completely. It may take a few tries to spread it fully.



5) Proof the coffeecake

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 2 hours, until it is doubled in size and about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in height.


6) Make the crumb topping

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, spice, and nuts then pour in the melted butter. Begin stirring with a large wooden spoon, then finish mixing with your fingers to form a streusel-like mixture.



Sprinkle the crumb topping over the dough.



7) Bake the coffeecake

About 15 minutes before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the coffeecake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and let it bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, until the crumb topping is golden brown and the dough underneath is springy.  The total baking time will vary based on the type of pan you use so you’ll need to watch it closely. I baked mine a bit too long so be careful.


8) Cool the coffeecake

Remove it from the oven to a wire rack and let it cool in the pan for 30 to 45 minutes before cutting it into squares and serving.



9) Slice and enjoy!

This sourdough coffeecake has an interesting flavor.  I liked it. It has just a bit of a sourdough tang to it but the crumb topping provides a good balance of flavor.



This was a nice treat for a chilly Spring day.  As the name suggest, this goes well with coffee, but it would also taste good with tea.

Happy Baking!

I enjoyed baking along with the Sourdough Surprises baking group. 

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