1/2 cup of sourdough

Day 48

August  23, 22

I am taking a break from writing my syllabus to bake a cake, a simple “bolo.” This is what you might call a snack cake. Or is it a muffin baked in a bundt pan? A bread if I bake in a loaf pan?

For me it is a zucchini bolo #bolodeabobrinha . I can’t quite translate and unpack all the meaning of this simple action. It feels like a reflex. In many ways it represents the way I cook and bake, feed my family, and share food. My bolos started as I watched my mom and ate her bolos. She always puts whatever she has into the blender and adds, as she says, “one tablespoon of baking powder, and you have cake.” It was like magic! How humble ingredients can come together to create something so tall and golden, savory or sweet, always appealing. We could smell it everywhere in the house. How does some squash skin, sour milk, leftover bread, and banana peels end up looking so appetizing on the plate? 

That statement has fueled my baking journey. She gave me a license to use what I have without fear of messing up. Well, there is fear, especially in the sense of wasting precious resources, from ingredients to time, but I feel like my mother gave me a magic powder, one that makes random food into gold.

Armed with her confidence, I survey what I have: Vegetables or fruits? Which fat? What flours would be nice to use? Anything about to go bad? Yes, if you are baking from the garden or able to enjoy summer’s bounty, you may be answering zucchini or summer squash but there may be a forgotten brown banana on the counter or half eaten peach from the kids, each will add sweetness and variety. 

Back to work now, I try to apply my mother’s assurance. I consider how to mix and bake up my syllabi. I hope my excitement and love of teaching will work like this recipe!

A note on fermenting cakes and cookies. I have been exploring during this #halfcupsourdough series. I have been mixing all ingredients including eggs, baking powder and baking soda if using and letting it all ferment on the counter for several hours or overnight in the fridge and then baking. 

For the sourdough starter I am also using what I have at the moment. Both fed (ripe) or unfed (discard) from the fridge will ferment cakes and cookies. But you can also add the starter as an ingredient, for flavor, to use up the discard from feeding the starter or because you like to add more fermented flour to your diet. 

Sourdough Zucchini Bolo

Today’s bolo went like this:


2 cups of grated zucchini ( I used the rest for dinner)

½ cup of  sourdough starter 

½ cup of sugar (extra ¼ if you like more of a treat)

3 eggs (they were from food barter from a farmer and different sizes)

⅓ cup of fat 

Stir in:

1 ⅓ cup of whole grain flours (I did a mix of wheat and rye meal) (extra few tablespoons if you are not using whole grains)

2 teaspoons of  baking powder

½ teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt 

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Stir in ½ cup of chocolate chips

Pour into a greased pan and bake 350F for 55-60 minutes.


2 thoughts on “1/2 cup of sourdough

  1. Ken says:

    Love this! My Grandmother used to do this with the insides of really huge zucchini. She would filet off everything else to cook, but also then cook the often spongy insides with a little oil until they started to render their juices and became shippable. They served as the base and the liquid for the cakes. Sometimes, actually, instead of a cake pan she would fry them and we’d eat them with powdered sugar or honey. Now, I add lots of spices to them which we never had because if she couldn’t grow it, we didn’t5 have it.

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