Sourdough Saturday – Keep Your Friends Cake

Years ago, Friendship Cake was all the rage. Basically it worked like this – you mixed yeast, flour and sugar together and put it in the fridge. Every day you stirred it, and on day 5 added more ingredients. Back to the fridge for five more days, then add more ingredients. Divide this starter into 4 equal portions, keep one portion for yourself to make a cake, and give the other three to friends. The whole idea being that they would then follow the same procedure. It was like a chain letter in a jar. And after a while your friends started to avoid you like the crazy zucchini lady.

I guess we all had more time back then, or spent our time differently at least. Anyway, I remembered the actual cake fondly so went searching for the recipe. Since nothing would scare friends away faster than “sharing” another chore, and since I don’t have enough friends to go scaring any of them away, I set about adapting the recipe to use some of my already bubbling sourdough starter.

The original recipe was also a health disaster waiting to happen, full of way too much sugar and fat (about 700 calories per piece). So this is an updated, quicker, sourdough, healthier version of the old German Friendship Cake. Still tastes great though!


  • 1/4 cup sourdough starter (find out how to make your own starter here)
  • 1/2 cup flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 – 8oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup broken walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

Remove sourdough starter from refrigerator, stir, and measure out 1/4 cup of starter. Place in a large bowl, add 1/4 cup each flour, sugar and milk. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours. After 12 hours, stir and add the remaining 1/4 cup each flour, sugar, and milk. Let sit another 12 hours.

Add all remaining ingredients except the brown sugar. Stir to combine. The combination of baking soda and sourdough starter will cause the dough to bubble up (similar to the Sourdough Griddlecakes from a couple of weeks ago).

Pour into a greased, 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before cutting.

Note: This cake is more reminiscent of a light carrot cake or a zucchini bread than an actual cake. If you prefer a sweeter cake, it would be good frosted with cream cheese frosting.

Even though I severely cut back on the fat from the original recipe, the cake stayed moist all week.

When I make this cake again, I will probably increase the amount of both raisins and walnuts. Just personal preference.

I think this recipe could safely be halved and baked in an 8 x 8 inch pan. I would halve everything except the pineapple. It should still work using one 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple.

Instead of handing out jars of unsolicited starter to my friends, I’ll be sharing my Keep Your Friends Cake over at Yeastspotting!

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at and

Comments (6)

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  1. The friendship cake is still going strong! I received one, named Herman, which I took care of and shared the results with my class at school. Some of them took their share and it was being passed round for months. They used to bring it into school to pass on to the next friend so my classroom permanently stank of yeast! Couldn’t complain about it as I was the one who started it!

  2. Karen says:

    Oh you have inspired me! Anything to use that sourdough starter. The original recipe IS pretty scary with all that sugar and fat. Good job!

  3. Oh, awesome! I loved the friendship bread, but I did hate trying to give it away all the time! This is a great use for it, and great if you only want it once in a while, too! 🙂 Definitely saving this recipe!

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