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Chocolate Sourdough Cake

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This decadent and rich chocolate sourdough cake recipe is a show stopping dessert! Made with sourdough starter, this is a fun recipe to use your starter in a way that isn’t bread. Rich, moist, and so chocolatey, and topped with a chocolate buttercream frosting, this cake is a dream come true for chocolate lovers!

This decadent and rich sourdough cake recipe is a showstopping dessert!
sourdough chocolate cake slice on white plate
sourdough chocolate cake slice on white plate

There are so many amazing ways to use your sourdough starter beyond bread! I love how versatile a starter really is – you can use it in endless ways! But my favorite way might just be including it into desserts.

The yeast and natural flavors found in the starter help to create a depth of flavor and tender texture that really makes your desserts shine! 

Try your hand at these other sourdough desserts

overhead image of sheet pan chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting

Including sourdough starter in a chocolate cake is kind of a no brainer when you think about it.

You might be familiar with crazy sounding additions like mayonnaise, tomato soup, sour cream, zucchini, and coffee, right? These are all additions that help to enhance the flavor and texture of a chocolate cake – producing a rich flavor that isn’t too sweet and is deep and complex, and allowing the texture to be soft and moist, and utterly perfect.

Adding a sourdough starter to chocolate cake does the same thing! It helps to create a deep and sophisticated flavor that is richly chocolate without being overly sweet. And it by using an active starter, it doesn’t have too pronounced of a sourdough tang, but the starter helps to lift the cake alongside the baking soda and creates a light and fluffy cake that is perfect.

several small white plates with slices of chocolate sourdough cake and forks

Other sourdough cakes I love are Sourdough Pound Cake, sourdough apple cake, sourdough coffee cake and sourdough carrot cake

If you haven’t yet tried a sourdough cake, I highly suggest you give this recipe a go! You will love it!

New to sourdough? Read my ultimate guide to sourdough for beginners to get all the answers to your questions in easy to understand ways!

chocolate cake on board with slices beside

How to make sourdough chocolate cake

Make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below for the complete set of directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare a 9×13 pan by lightly greasing it.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the starter, milk, and flour and whisk thoroughly.
mixing cake batter
  1. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, sour cream, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cocoa. The mixture will be grainy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time to this mixture, mixing well after each addition.
mixing sourdough starter into batter
  1. Gently combine the starter mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking until smooth. 
  2. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until it springs back when lightly pressed in the center, and a cake tendster in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  4. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack completely before frosting. 
mixing cake batter with chocolate and sourdough

How to make chocolate buttercream

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until soft and fluffy.
  2. Add in the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined.
  3. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. 
  4. Frost the cake!
mixing chocolate buttercream frosting

What kind of sourdough starter do I need for these recipes? 

This recipe uses a 100% hydration sourdough starter, meaning one that has been fed equal amounts by weight of flour and water. Read How to Maintain a Sourdough Starter for more information. 

It is easier to whisk in a starter that is room temperature into the cake batter, so if you store your discard in the fridge, I recommend allowing it to warm up before you start this recipe. 

Don’t have a starter yet? Learn how to make a sourdough starter the simple way.

sourdough chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting on cutting board

Other chocolate cake recipes:

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

sourdough chocolate cake slice on white plate

Chocolate Sourdough Cake Recipe

This decadent and rich sourdough cake recipe is a showstopping dessert!
4.62 from 18 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 662kcal
Author: Jenni – The Gingered Whisk

Ingredients

Chocolate Sourdough Cake

  • 1 cup sourdough starter fed and active
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ cup dutch process baking cocoa
  • 2 eggs

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • cup dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Prepare a 9×13 pan by lightly greasing it.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the starter, milk, and flour and whisk thoroughly.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, sour cream, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cocoa.
  • The mixture will be grainy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time to this mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  • Gently combine the starter mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking until smooth.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, until it springs back when lightly pressed in the center, and a cake tendster in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until soft and fluffy.
  • Add in the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined.
  • Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

Notes

You can also bake this cake as cupcakes or in circle tins and assemble as a layer cake. Just adjust the baking time accordingly.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 662kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 361mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 54g

33 Comments

  1. Glad to see I wasn't the only one with frosting troubles :-). Nice job on the cake though – it certainly looks yummy!

  2. I've never had a sourdough cake — it sounds interesting and looks really delicious!

  3. That looks heavenly! I love sourdough chocolate cake!

  4. This is the ultimate and it looks soooo pretty. I just want to swipe my finger across that frosting! Great job!!

    1. Thanks! It was hard to resist a frosting swipe! Luckily I made enough I could lick the bowl after… LOL

  5. Awesome! I saw this recipe through KA, but wasn't sure if it was for me. I'm really, really happy to see that it worked out for you, and it looks decandently divine. Yum! 🙂

    So glad to be baking with you through Sourdough Surprises.

  6. Hi~ I used this same recipe from King Arthur and thought it was a great recipe! Your cake looks delicious:) Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines Irish Cream Chocolate Sourdough Cake~

  7. Now THAT is a cake! It looks so beautiful with those swoops of white icing & deep dark sponge. Aw, yum. I'm pinning this.

    1. Thanks Suz! For some reason I can't comment on your blog, but I think your ginger cake looks delicious! I would definitely trade you for a piece of that!

  8. I love that you switched the oil for butter – I bet it was absolutely delicious. And it looks so pretty, leaning or not. YUM!

  9. korenainthekitchen.com says:

    One word: YUM. I could murder a piece of that right now! I love your cake stand, too.

  10. I truly love this cake! spectacular looking and the ingredients for the dough are just a few, the way I prefer it. and chocolate!!! my cake was also leaning, loose filling and 6 mini layers, of course 🙂 ciao, Barbara

  11. What a showpiece! What was I thinking, looking at this first thing in the morning?

  12. pizzarossa says:

    Oh, my! I would love to just dive into that, mouth open!

  13. I'm so enjoying being a part of Sourdough Surprises-thanks! Chocolate and cream cheese…sounds like a perfect combination!

  14. Hi was wondering when you mix the sourdoigh starter flour and milk together, what consistency it should be, mine is a sticky dough like ball, but was thinking it should be more of a wet consistency…let me know thanks!

  15. Hi Nicole! Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you, I've been moving and had limited internet access. It is not thin like a normal cake batter, but shouldn't be a ball either. It should be more of a thick brownie or quick bread batter consistency.

  16. Thank you so much for the recipe! This seriously the best, most moist chocolate cake I have ever tried! We made it just one layer and substituted yogurt for the milk and everyone was mind-blown. This is my main chocolate cake recipe from now onwards. Thanks!!

  17. I have been eyeballing this recipe for quite some time now, and finally decided to give it a try for a small family party. It was absolutely delicious (I say "was" because we ate the whole thing for dessert). Not sour at all, perfectly chocolaty, flavorful, with a very moist, soft, tight crumb. Definitely my new go to chocolate cake recipe now. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  18. Delicious! I love chocolate cake that has a deep rich flavor.

  19. I have never had sourdough cake but girl, I KNOW this recipe is so delicious! Just look at that cake! I can not wait to try this cake out! YUM!

  20. I had never made a cake by using sourdough, I followed your suggestions and I got an outstanding cake
    Thank you so much!

  21. Oh, this is my kind of cake! I love dark chocolate and won’t say no to it. And that frosting sounds so fingerlickingood!

  22. I don’t have espresso powder but want that flavour! Is it possible to sub half milk for half brewed coffee?

    1. Hmm – I would maybe try brewing the coffee grounds in the milk? Then let it cool back down again before using – I think that would give you the best flavor! Let me know how it works!

  23. Sarah McKee says:

    Have you ever made this into cupcakes? I am terrible with frosting cakes, but am good with cupcakes. LOL

    1. Yes! You can definitely make them into cupcakes! Just adjust the baking time!

      1. John Bryant says:

        Jenni, this was great with a couple modifications as I wasn’t into the fancy layers and just did a 9×12 pan (35 min. baking). I’m sure my sourdough start is older than you, but everything worked well. I’m turning in my Rita Davenport cake recipe for this one. Deep dark chocolate moist cake with a little sourdough ting. Grand kids already love my thin sourdough pancakes, so they are gonna go nuts for this.
        Thank You.

        John

  24. Can this be made with discard or does it have to be active?

    1. You can definitely make it with discard, too! I just like using active starter because the active yeast helps it have a nice soft texture and a lighter sourdough tang to it. But discard will definitely work, too!

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