These cupcakes use unfed (discard) sourdough starter to produce a delicious carrot cupcake with no sourdough taste other than a very slight tang. They are perfect for any spring get-together.
Table of contents
❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe
Rich-tasting. Before you run away in horror from this original recipe, let me assure you that you can’t taste the sourdough at all. There is a very mild tang, almost like there is a small amount of buttermilk in the batter. But the overall impression of these cupcakes is just that they are sweet, soft, and rich-tasting like a classic carrot cake. Using the discard sourdough starter just gives you an opportunity to use an ingredient that would otherwise go to waste, and adds a tiny bit of flavor.
Cakes are meant to be a sweet treat. This great recipe is inspired by a King Arthur Flour recipe, in which the reviewers occasionally complain that it is too sweet. This is nonsense. It may seem like a lot of sugar in the recipe, but it is a cake, people, and it should be sweet.
Light, fluffy and bouncy. You’ll also notice that it uses vegetable oil, which means you won’t end up with a dense, dry cake, but a moist and tender one, like the texture of a box cake mix.
Added texture. There are golden raisins, warm spices, and shredded carrots and crushed pineapple to round out this delicious, springy treat.
This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.
You’ll need the following for this treat:
- vegetable oil
- white sugar
- sourdough starter discard/ unfed
- canned crushed pineapple drained
- grated carrots
- golden raisins
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
- cream cheese room temperature
- butter melted
- powdered sugar
- salt if using unsalted butter
- milk or cream if icing is too thick
- cupcake pans
- cupcake liners
- large mixing bowl
- wire rack
🥫 Storage instructions
Once they are frosted, store them in the fridge because of the dairy in the frosting. If they are unfrosted, they can be at room temperature for a few days. (Also, you can call them muffins!) Like most baked goods with spices, they are better the next day.
Unfrosted cupcakes also freeze well. Allow them to cool completely, the wrap in plastic wrap and place them in a zip-top freezer bag. They will stay fresh in the freezer this way for about a month.
Yes, you can use store-bought sourdough starter if you prefer. Just follow the instructions on the package to prepare it.
You can use either all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour.
👩🏻🍳 Expert tips
- This batter would also work for a fancy, layered carrot cake. The cupcakes could be decorated with crushed nuts or coconut on top as well.
- Crushed walnuts or shredded coconut can be added to the recipe if you like those things. The raisins can be omitted too. If adding coconut or walnuts, reduce the vegetable oil to 1 1/4 cups as they will add moisture.
📘 Related Recipes
- Bread Machine Coffee Cake
- Bread Machine Coffee Cake
- Triple Berry Coffee Cake
- 30+ Amazing Sourdough Discard Recipes (Tried & True!)
(Looking for an easier sourdough muffin? Try this chocolate chip version.)
📖 Here’s the recipe
- 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard/ unfed
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup canned crushed pineapple drained
- 2 cups carrots grated
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 12 ounces butter melted
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- pinch salt if using unsalted butter
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream if icing is too thick
For the Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare cupcake pans with cupcake liners. This recipe makes either 24 very full cupcakes or 28 smaller ones
- Combine the oil and sugar, beating well. Add the sourdough starter and combine more gently. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- Reduce your mixer speed and add the carrots, pineapple, and raisins
- Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices in a separate large bowl. Add them to the batter one cup at a time, gently stirring after each addition.
- Pour batter into prepared cupcake pans and bake fort 25 minutes. A cake tester should come out clean, and the cupcakes should be bouncy when pressed.
- Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, and melted butter. It may seem lumpy at first. Add the salt if using unsalted butter, otherwise it is not needed.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating slowly at first then increasing the speed.
- If the frosting seems thick, add milk or cream a teaspoon at a time. If it seems too thin, put in the fridge for 30 minutes.