Sourdough Apple Cake

A moist apple cake with fall spices and shredded apple, topped with an apple cider cream cheese frosting. A delicious way to use your discard sourdough starter.
4.57 from 16 votes

A recipe for sourdough apple cake: a moist and delicious cake made with shredded apples and your sourdough starter.

2 slices of sourdough apple cake with cream cheese frosting

Fall means apples, and baking, and spices, and cozy afternoons in the kitchen. And this recipe is the embodiment of all of these things. On top of that it’s absolutely delicious, and a great way to use up that discard sourdough starter.

The cake is moist and tender with just the right amount of fall spices, plenty of fresh apple, and not too sweet. The frosting is somewhere between a buttercream and a true cream cheese frosting, with hint of apple spice flavor.

You’ll love it.


For the cake

wooden surface with apples, sourdough starter, flour, spices, eggs, and other ingredients
  • ½ cup butter unsalted
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup boiled cider
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 medium- sized grated apples 
  • 1 cup sourdough starter in a discard/ unfed state

For the frosting

wooden board with cream cheese, melted butter, powdered sugar, and boiled cider for frosting
  • 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons butter melted
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon boiled cider
  • pinch salt

About the boiled cider

If you have ever baked with boiled apple cider, you know what an amazing apple-spice flavor it lends to everything. But if you have don’t have it on hand, that’s okay. You can still make this cake.

A few options, in case you don’t have any:

  • Make your own boiled cider by simply reducing apple cider in a pot on the stove until it reduces by 1/8. (You can find full instructions here. It’s easy but takes a long, long time.)
  • Substitute with half apple sauce and half molasses (adding to the molasses already in the recipe).
  • For the cream cheese frosting, simply leave it out. No big deal.

However, it’s a truly delicious and versatile ingredient for all your fall baking and I encourage you to make some or buy some to have on hand up until Christmas.

How to grate apples

Of course you could do it by hand with a big box grater. Or if that just feels like too much, use the shredding disc of your food processor. Cut the apples into chunks and it will do the work for you in a matter of seconds. Yes, they will technically be shredded, not grated. That’s okay.

process of shredding fresh apple in food processor using shredding disk

Baking cakes with sourdough starter

If you have never baked something sweet before with your sourdough starter, don’t worry. There will be no sour taste. There is a (very) slight tanginess, similar to baking with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

The real benefit of a cake made with sourdough starter is that it’s a great use of your sourdough discard. This recipe calls for sourdough starter in its unfed state. So as you are discarding, save what you pour off to bake this delicious apple cake!

Related: 11 Delicious Sourdough Recipes for Fall!

Let’s bake the cake, step by step

4 images: beating butter and sugar, mixing dry ingredients, mixing up batter, adding sourdough starter and grated apple

This is an easy recipe, and as long as you have an electric mixer of some sort, it won’t take you long to make. Start by creaming the butter, sugar, oil, and eggs together in a large mixing bowl. This will take a a few minutes, at least three minutes of beating on medium speed. Add the molasses and the boiled cider and mix.

Then, in a separate large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: the flour, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add them to the butter/ sugar/ oil/ egg mixture and blend on low until just combined.

Finally, add the discarded sourdough starter and the grated apple and mix until everything is throughly combined.

finished batter in pan, fully baked cake, cream cheese frosting, frosting the cake

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake. The cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean and the edges are slightly browned.

Allow the apple cake to cool, right in the pan, for a few hours. You want it completely cool before you frost it.

Cut into squares and serve directly out of the pan. Easy!

If you have leftovers, keep them in the fridge so the frosting stays fresh. It keeps very well for a few days if kept tightly wrapped.

square slice of sourdough apple cake in 9 x 13 pan

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Print the recipe

4.57 from 16 votes

Sourdough Apple Cake

Print Recipe
A moist apple cake with fall spices and shredded apple, topped with an apple cider cream cheese frosting. A delicious way to use your discard sourdough starter.
Prep Time:1 hr
Cook Time:45 mins
cooling time:1 hr
Total Time:2 hrs 45 mins
Click here to grab a free seasonal e-cookbook!


For the cake

  • ½ cup butter unsalted
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup boiled cider
  • cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 medium apples grated
  • 1 cup sourdough starter discard/ unfed state

For the frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons butter melted
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon boiled cider
  • pinch salt


Make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350° with a rack in center. Prepare a 13 x 9 pan with non-stick baking spray.
  • Beat the butter, oil, sugar, and eggs together with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes in a large mixing bowl, until fluffy and lightened in color. Add the molasses and boiled cider and mix.
  • Combine the dry ingredients (flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda) in a separate large mixing bowl and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir by hand or with the mixer on low until just combined. Don't overmix.
  • Add the grated apple and sourdough starter to the batter and mix by hand until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs. Place pan on cooling rack and allow the cake to cool to room temperature in the pan, for at least an hour.

Make the frosting

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth with an electric mixer. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and whip until the frosting is smooth and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt and the boiled cider and mix thoroughly.
  • Frost the cake once cool and serve directly out of the pan. Refrigerate any leftovers.


This cake can also be baked as 2 (8 inch) rounds.  Or try cutting the recipe in half and baking in a standard sized loaf pan.  
The recipes makes just enough icing for the cake.  If you prefer a more generous amount, multiply by 1.5.


Calories: 191kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 338mg | Potassium: 90mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple cake with sourdough starter, sourdough apple cake recipe, sourdough cake recipe
Servings: 20 slices
Calories: 191kcal
Author: Katie Shaw
Did you make this recipe?Tag me @heartscontentfarmhouse so I can see!

Hope you enjoy this warm and cozy fall dessert!

signature with strawberries

Click here to subscribe By on August 13th, 2020

22 thoughts on “Sourdough Apple Cake”

  1. I’m going to make this for a birthday celebration pans am eager to try the boiled cider. What type of molasses do you recommend? Will any type work?

  2. 5 stars
    I tried this today, and it was a huge success. I had to tweak a couple of ingredients (no boiled cider, so I added a good squeeze of golden syrup, and I used more allspice to make up for the lack of extra ginger and cloves), but the flavour is still lovely! And the cake is moist and fluffy. Thank you for this lovely recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Very delicious cake here…I hadn’t even heard of boiled cider before but wow, it sure infuses a lot of flavour into that cake.

  4. Katie, I absolutely LOVE the flavors of this cake. However, in the ingredients list I see 1/2 C vegetable oil. But the directions never mention adding that oil. Is it a mistake or should the oil be mixed in w/ the butter, sugar, & eggs (aka ‘wet’ ingredients)?

  5. These are a perfect treat. The only substitution I made to the batter was using molasses and applesauce instead of the boiled cider. I baked in an 8×8, cupcake and mini cupcake tins. The children and husband didn’t even wait for them to be iced they ate them warm straight from the oven. So good! I highly recommend this recipe for using up sourdough discard.

  6. Can I use water if I have no cider? It is hard to get out in my area. I would recommend ordering the boiled cider if you can swing it!


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