A congratulatory recipe for Sourdough Bootcamp graduates and all chocolate lovers in possession of a mature starter
Sourdough Chocolate Torte
Hello, sourdough bootcampers, and Hello, sourdough bakers at large. Now that your starters are up and running and you're baking bread and cinnamon buns with gay abandon, here's a lovely treat.
I think you'll be happy with this torte; the texture is dense and fudge-like, the flavour is deeply, deeply chocolatey, and it's not too sweet.
It's more of an adult cake than a kid cake. It would go well with a glass of whisky, neat, after a day in the salt mines.
Or with a shimmery rose on the balcony, all by yourself.
Or with a few of your socially distanced loved ones, on the deck or via the online platform.
Your loved ones will need the recipe. Share it with them.
Note that the torte changes its character depending on the size of the baking vessel. The original recipe was The Reluctant Gourmet's take on Italian chocolate pudding, published in 2008. I subbed sourdough starter for cornstarch and oil in the original, baked the batter in a 10-inch pan, and it became this fabulous torte. But baked in individual ramekins and served warm, it is closer to the original, an equally fabulous mousse.
When the torte/mousse is still warm, the pieces of chocolate tucked into the centre are gooey and soft. As the torte/mousse cools, the chocolate pieces harden and become a delicious surprise. (Sometimes, if I don't have enough chocolate in the house, I skip the chunks. The torte and the mousse are just fine without them.)
You'll need an established starter, fed, bubbling and ready to go, and for best results, at pretty much 100% hydration.
To begin, feed your starter 6 to 8 hours before you'd like to bake. Weigh your starter and add equal weights of flour and warm water. If you're using volume measurements, add flour first and then just enough water to make a thick slurry--almost, but not quite, a paste.
Sourdough Chocolate Torte (or Mousse)
(This is the richest chocolate dessert I’ve ever had; so rich that icing would be over the top. But a dab of whipping cream or crème fraîche will never lead a chocolate dessert astray, and if you choose to add some raspberry sauce I will not argue.)
Sourdough Chocolate Torte---so dense, so fudge-like.
115 g (4 oz, ½ cup) unsalted butter
1 cup 35 percent cream
170 g (8 oz) dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
4 eggs at room temperature
265 g (1⅓ cups) granulated sugar
21 g (¼ cup) cocoa powder
190 g (¾ cup) active sourdough starter
½ teaspoon salt
Optional, to garnish:
Whipped cream or crème fraîche, fresh berries or berry syrup
Preheat the oven to 325F (160C).
Make a ganache: chop 110 g (about 5 oz) of the chocolate and place in a medium-sized bowl. Chop the remaining chocolate into small chunks and reserve.
Combine butter and cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Pour the heated mixture over the chocolate. Cover and let stand for a few minutes so the chocolate melts, then beat until smooth and creamy. Cool to room temperature.
Place sugar in a small bowl, sift cocoa powder into the sugar and whisk together.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until lemon coloured. Whisk in the cocoa-sugar mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in sourdough starter and salt.
Fold the cooled ganache into the egg mixture just until the batter is a uniform colour.
Pour batter into an oiled 10-inch (25-cm) spring-form pan or 12 individual ¾ cup (180 mL) ramekins. Tuck chunks of the reserved chocolate at intervals into the batter in the cake pan, or into the centre of the batter in the ramekins.
Bake the cake in a preheated 325F (160C) oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the edges are set and the centre crust is resistant to a light tap. (Cake testers won't work for this torte, it's far too moist.)
Bake ramekins for 25-30 minutes.
Cool the torte in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes, then remove spring form and cool to room temperature. Though you can manipulate the warm torte into coherent slices, it's easier to do so when the torte is cool. Note that when the torte is cool, the chocolate chunks become bite-sized revelations of semi-solid richness.
Cool ramekins for 10 minutes and either serve right away, while the chunk of chocolate in the middle is still melted, or allow to cool and serve later, when the chocolate is solid and a small bite will remind you that you are here, and your feet are firmly planted on the ground.
Serve with any embellishments you like, or with none at all.
Makes one 10-inch cake or 12 individual ¾ cup ramekins.
Sourdough Chocolate Torte does not suffer from a little embellishment.