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Sourdough Carrot Cake

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Sourdough carrot cake is an easy and delicious dessert to make with your sourdough discard. Heavily spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and topped with cream cheese frosting. You will never look at carrot cake the same way again!

Sourdough carrot cake is an easy and delicious dessert to make with your sourdough discard. Heavily spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and topped with cream cheese frosting. You will never look at carrot cake the same way again!
piece of carrot cake on platter with cake
sourdough carrot cake piece on plate with fork

Isn’t carrot cake amazing? I mean, it’s heavily spiced, it’s smothered in cream cheese frosting and hello – it’s hiding vegetables! 

My version also adds in extra spices. In addition to cinnamon, there’s tons of nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Also, sourdough starter. Its good, guys. So. Good.

I just can’t resist using my sourdough starter in desserts. The slightly sourdough tang just adds a really fun depth of flavor that just works so well in sweet recipes! From sourdough browniessourdough sugar cookies, and sourdough pound cake –  there is just so much more than bread that your starter can do!

So why add sourdough discard to carrot cake? Texture! The yeast in the starter, even when not active, helps to add a really great bouncy texture to the cake. Its dense, moist, and flavorful. Basically, you need this cake.

overhead of carrot cake in baking pan

How to make sourdough carrot cake

For the full set of directions, make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare a 9×13 pan by smearing all the edges and corners with butter. I liked to add a piece of parchment paper on top of this, and butter that, as well. This is an extra step, but helps if you want to pull the whole cake out of the pan easily.
  3. Grate the carrots on the smallest hole of your box grater. Place the shredded carrots in between two sheets of paper towel, and place a plate on them to help squeeze out any excess liquid.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the sugar, olive oil, eggs, applesauce, sourdough starter, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until it is all combined well. This step adds some air bubbles into the batter, so don’t skip it.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. 
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, add the carrots with 1 Tablespoon of the dry ingredients mixture and toss to coat. This helps your carrots to evenly distribute in the cake batter.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and stir until just combined.
  8. Fold in the carrots and 1 cup of chopped walnuts (save the over cup for decoration after frosting).
  9. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth out to make sure its even in the pan.
  10. Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake does not jiggle when you gently shake the pan. 
  11. Cool the cake in the pan completely. 
collage showing steps to make sourdough cake

How to make cream cheese frosting.

When the cake has completely cooled, you can mix the frosting.

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the softened cream cheese and mix until it is soft and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, milk , and a pinch of sea salt (affiliate link).
  3. Mix on medium speed until combined and fluffy. 
  4. Frost over the cake.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of chopped walnuts over the frosting.
freshly baked carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on top

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some great recipe notes to help you get the best carrot cake you can!

Why is carrot cake made with oil and not butter?

Carrot cake is made with oil and not butter to help it be really moist and last for days.

Can I use pre-shredded carrots from the produce section?

You could, but you shouldn’t. Those carrots are really too large and won’t cook into the cake as well. You should really shred them as finely as you can

What kind of sourdough starter should I use?

This cake should be made with a 100% hydration sourdough starter, meaning it’s fed with equal amounts of flour and water. Read my guide a refresher on how to feed your sourdough starter.

The starter should be at room temperature when you use it for this recipe, as that helps it to mix into the cake batter better.

New to sourdough? Read my Ultimate Guide to Sourdough for Beginners to answer all the questions you have!

child's hand smearing cream cheese frosting on cake

How to make variations of this recipe:

You can add in different ingredients to change up your sourdough carrot cake.

Try adding:

  • Swap out the walnuts for pecans
  • Add raisins

Go easy on the add ins, though! This is supposed to be a spice cake, and too many other flavors and textures in the cake will muddy the flavors and change the texture of your cake. Do NOT add pineapple to this recipe, though – it will make the batter too wet and it won’t bake right. 

piece of carrot cake on platter with cake

Other easy dessert recipes:

Other carrot recipes:

 

carrot cake on plate beside platter with extra pieces

Food tastes better when its shared! If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and rate below!

Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share this post, please link to this post directly for the recipe, please do not copy and paste or screenshot. Thanks so much for supporting me! xoxo

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graphic for sourdough course - reads "new to sourdough? learn the skills to impress your family and friends with your sourdough baking. Click here".
piece of sourdough dessert carrot cake on plate
piece of carrot cake on platter with cake

Sourdough Carrot Cake Recipe

Sourdough carrot cake is an easy and delicious dessert to make with your sourdough discard. Heavily spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and topped with cream cheese frosting. You will never look at carrot cake the same way again!
4.59 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cake Recipes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 16 pieces
Calories: 556kcal
Author: Jenni – The Gingered Whisk

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • ½ cup sourdough discard 100% hydration
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts divided
  • Frosting:
  • 16 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Instructions

How to make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Prepare a 9×13 pan by smearing all the edges and corners with butter. I liked to add a piece of parchment paper on top of this, and butter that, as well. This is an extra step, but helps if you want to pull the whole cake out of the pan easily.
  • Grate the carrots on the smallest hole of your box grater. Place the shredded carrots in between two sheets of paper towel, and place a plate on them to help squeeze out any excess liquid.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the sugar, olive oil, eggs, applesauce, sourdough starter, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until it is all combined well. This step adds some air bubbles into the batter, so don’t skip it.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the carrots with 1 Tablespoon of the dry ingredients mixture and toss to coat. This helps your carrots to evenly distribute in the cake batter.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and stir until just combined.
  • Fold in the carrots and 1 cup of chopped walnuts (save the over cup for decoration after frosting).
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth out to make sure its even in the pan.
  • Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake does not jiggle when you gently shake the pan.
  • Cool the cake in the pan completely.


  • How to make cream cheese frosting.
  • When the cake has completely cooled, you can mix the frosting.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the softened cream cheese and mix until it is soft and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, milk , and a pinch of sea salt.
  • Mix on medium speed until combined and fluffy.
  • Frost over the cake.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of chopped walnuts over the frosting.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 556kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 325mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 42g

10 Comments

  1. Funny! Mise en place here too.

    (for anyone just reading this comment, it probably won't make sense to anyone else but Jenni)

  2. Such an amazing carrot cake! It is totally irresistible!

    1. I didn’t know if the carrots were measured packed or loose, so there were a lot but everyone at the potluck liked it I added Orange oil to the frosting, and will add raisins simmered in ON but this is a keeper. My starter was bubbly.

  3. Oh my goodness! This cake is so delicious and very yummy! Such a great cake and perfect for dessert throughout the week. My family loves it!

    1. candycarrotking says:

      @Beth, What do you mean “throughout the week”? Is it not good enough for a Sunday?

  4. Does it freeze well? And then frost once defrosted?

    1. Yes! You can freeze it unfrosted, and then frost once defrosted.

  5. This was a fantastic recipe. The discard and the olive oil made for a super moist cake. I baked this in a 9.5in round glass pie pan for about 45 minutes, and used the rest of the batter to make muffins which only needed about 15-18 minutes. The frosting has such a great airy whipped texture that compliments the denseness of the cake perfectly. Definitely a keeper!

  6. An absolutely amazing recipe! My mom and I cannot stop making it!! Moist and so very delicious. All the spices come together in a way that is spectacular! We love making this recipe as cupcakes. Thank you!!

    1. I am so happy to hear that, Heather! Thanks so much for the kind words!!

4.59 from 17 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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