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Sourdough Carrot Cake

  Sourdough Carrot Cake from

As many of you know, I have a love affair with sourdough. It took me a long time to try it, but once I did and realized just How Many Uses it had, I set out to find every use for it I possibly could.

Cake is one of my favorite uses for sourdough, without a doubt. I find using sourdough tenderizes the crumb, heightens the lovely cakey flavors without adding any sourness at all, and it makes the flour easier to digest.

Our Black Forest Cake, Dark Chocolate CupcakesCranberry-Orange Sourdough Muffins, our sourdough variation of Pumpkin Bundt Cake, and this sourdough carrot cake all testify to the worthy tryst of a good sourdough starter and cake.

This cake makes liberal use of warm spices and moist carrots. For our youngest son’s recent birthday, we topped it with the cream cheese frosting listed here, but for an afternoon tea time, you could certainly dust it with homemade powdered sugar instead. How very dainty and civilized!

Sourdough Carrot Cake - a scrumptious, healthy way to enjoy your carrots :)


Sourdough Carrot Cake

very loosely based on King Arthur Flour‘s recipe
Also, I don’t tend to like nuts, raisins, or pineapple in my carrot cake. If you do, however, feel free to add in 1/2 cup of each to this batter.

1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 1/2 cups spelt or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups evaporated cane sugar or sucanat
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups finely grated carrots
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, butter, coconut oil, and the flour. (The butter and coconut oil should be barely warm but still liquid.) Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°, grease a 9×13 pan (or 2 8-inch round pans), and grate carrots and set aside.

Scrape sourdough mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer, then add the cane sugar and vanilla and mix on low speed. Increase the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, followed by the carrots.

Reduce speed again to low and add the spices, salt, and baking soda, making sure everything is well-incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of your pans) or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.


Real Food Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my take on classic cream cheese frosting, which typically uses vast quantities of refined powdered sugar. This version uses maple syrup and arrowroot powder, and oh, my lands, it is seriously addictive. (Be ye warned.) This frosting also appears sans nuts on our Red Velvet Lentil Cupcakes.

Enough to dollop on top of 12-16 pieces of cake. Double quantities if you want to frost or fill the cake.

1 cup cream cheese, slightly softened
1 cup butter, slightly softened
1/4 cup maple syrup (more to taste)
1/4 cup very finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1-4 tablespoons arrowroot powder (optional) – if frosting is too sticky from the maple syrup

Cream cream cheese and butter together until smooth and slightly fluffy. Add in maple syrup and walnuts and stir until everything is well-mixed. Add arrowroot powder if needed.

Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Bring to cool room temperature before using for ease of serving.

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  1. Heather says

    I’m from England so could you please tell me what a sourdough starter is or how does one make it? Many thanks. Heather

    • Kresha says

      A sourdough starter or a sourdough culture, as it’s sometimes known, is just a bit of flour, water, and yeast that is reserved and added to new baking projects as the leavening – that way no commercial yeast is needed.

      The easiest way to get a sourdough starter going is to either kype a bit from a friend or to buy a dehydrated starter. You can also start one from scratch by mixing water and flour together in a jar and letting it sit out for a few days to collect yeast from the air – there’s a tutorial on that method at Nourished Kitchen.

      Have fun discovering sourdough! It took me a while to try it, but once I did, it was a whirlwind love affair. I hope the same for you. :-)

  2. Anne-Marie says

    Will any sourdough started do?I always have a rye starter in my fridge but would need to adapt some if rye is not suitable, Thanks

    • Kresha says

      Hmmm…. that’s a good question. I’m sure in terms of leavening and all, it would be just fine. The only issue would be with taste. So, if you’re okay with notes of rye in your carrot cake, I’d say absolutely! It might actually add a nice nutty taste. Then again, it might not. I don’t know – I’ve never tried!

      If you don’t want to use rye, it would be fairly easy to change the starter. Just take out a bit of your rye starter and give it three feedings with whatever new flour you want to use. By the end of the third feeding, you will have very little rye left in the starter and it will be made up of almost entirely the new flour.

      Good luck!

      By the way, if you’re looking for another use for your rye starter, our sourdough rye bread is great for Reuben sandwiches and Sourdough Reuben Picnic Buns. :)

  3. says

    Hello there! This immediately caught my eye as I also adore using sourdough and I adore carrot cake in general. So my question is though, in looking at the KAF recipe that you used as a guide, they don’t feed the sourdough or give it a proofing time like you do. I’m just curious your reason for adding that 8-12 hour step into the process. Did you try it without initially and then find it was necessary?

  4. Tasha says

    I can’t wait to try your carrot cake recipe! I had just looked at the King Arther version and was horrified at all the oil and sugar in it. (also, I’m not interested in all the extras either).

    I think I need to set up some cake to ferment! Thank you for posting your version.

  5. Karyn says

    I am making this for my mother’s birthday dinner celebration but don’t have access to Sucanat or evaporated cane sugar. I have turbinado sugar, brown sugar or maple syrup. Can any of those be used and if so, what would be proper proportion?

    • Kresha Faber says

      Sure! Either of the dry sugars should be fine – the turbinado would likely be the closest flavor-wise, but the brown sugar would work too. ;-) I would use the exact amount called for in the recipe – you shouldn’t need to adjust it unless your sugar is super-fine, in which case reduce it by a 1/4 cup or so. :-)


      • Karyn says

        HELP! I’m just in the starter/butter/oil/flour stage and the end result is VERY THICK!. Is this going to become more liquid-like over the next 8-12 hrs???

        • Kresha Faber says

          Yes, it is fairly thick at that stage – definitely depends on how thick your sourdough starter was to begin with. But as long as everything is mixed, don’t worry about it, as yes, it will become slightly more pourable as it sits. But the batter IS fairly thick, so no worries!

  6. says

    This is wonderful!!! I had never tried making sourdough carrot cake before, and the King Arthur recipe in my cookbook doesn’t allow for a soaking time. The way you adapted it works beautifully, and I’m positive it has much richer flavor than their method can give! My young kids gobbled their pieces, and loved the tangy flavor. We ate it with no frosting tonight, but I’m going to serve it to guests tomorrow, with whipped cream as a topping. Thank you!

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