Use your discard sourdough starter to make this rich, moist sourdough chocolate cake topped with an easy and delicious chocolate frosting.
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Table of contents
There are so many things you can make with discard sourdough starter, but this recipe it one every sourdough baker should have up their sleeve. It’s easy to make, and only needs one bowl. It’s rich and moist but not too sweet so it’s perfect for a snack as well as dessert.
The sourdough starter adds a richness to the cake that is somewhat like a cake made with buttermilk: not sour, but definitely delicious. You’ll love this recipe and you’ll want to save it for when your starter jar is looking too full.
For the cake
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- cocoa powder (Hershey’s is fine!)
- baking powder
- baking soda
- vegetable oil
- discard sourdough starter (learn how to make your own sourdough starter here)
- sour cream
- boiling water
For the frosting
- melted butter
- cocoa powder
- powdered sugar
- Large mixing bowl
- 13 x 9 baking dish
- Hand mixer or stand mixer
MakE the batter
This cake couldn’t be simpler. No need to pull out the stand mixer, unless you want to.
Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 with the rack in the center. Prepare your pan with spraying with cooking spray. I always use a 9 x 13 so I can serve it right out of the pan.
Get a nice, big mixing bowl and combine all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) until they are well blended.
Then add in the wet ingredients except for the hot water (eggs, sourdough starter, sour cream, vanilla, and oil). The batter will seem very thick and lumpy. That’s okay, just stir it up the best you can.
Finally, add a cup of very hot (almost boiling) water and mix up the batter well. It will magically smooth out as you stir and look like a “normal” cake batter.
Bake, frost, and serve
Pour the batter into the greased cake pan and smooth it out.
If your starter is still active, the batter may bubble up a little bit. Don’t worry, it will all smooth out as it bakes.
Bake for about 35-45 minutes in the preheated oven. Check for doneness using a toothpick. Insert it into the center and if the toothpick comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs, the cake is done. The top may slightly crack.
Set it on a cooling rack and allow it to cool, right in the pan, until it’s room temperature. Don’t frost it until it’s cool!
To make the frosting, combine 2/3 cup of cocoa with a stick of melted butter. Then add the powdered sugar and milk, alternating between the two and beating with an electric mixer until smooth .
Of course, if you have a different frosting you’d like to make, this cake suits many types very well. Cream cheese frosting or classic vanilla buttercream are two that we love with this recipe.
Serve it right out of the pan. No need to get fancy.
It keeps well for a few days either in the fridge or at room temperature.
Absolutely! You should get about 24 cupcakes. Start checking for doneness at 20 minutes, and be sure to use cupcake liners.
Yes, but the recipe will fill about 1.5 loaf pans. You could always double it and get 3 loaves!
You can substitute creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, or more sourdough starter?
📘 Related Recipes
- Sourdough lemon cake is soooo good and can even work as a breakfast.
- Carrot cake cupcakes with sourdough starter are one of our favorites and are topped with the most delicious cream cheese frosting.
- Coffee cake with discard starter requires your stand mixer, but is so tender and topped with cinnamon sugar.
❤️ The story behind the recipe
We first made this during the height of the sourdough craze. So many of our friends had asked for sourdough starters so we had multiple jars going. Two of my daughters had birthdays and we wanted to experiment with a delicious cake using the discard that wouldn’t take all day.
So many of my sourdough recipes take a lot of experimenting, but not this one. We got it right on the first try.
I hope you enjoy it.
One Bowl Sourdough Chocolate Cake
For the cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup discard sourdough starter
- ¼ sour cream
- 1 cup boiling water
For the frosting
- ½ cup 1 stick melted butter
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup milk
- Prep oven and pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
- Mix dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until well combined.
- Add wet ingredients. Add the vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and sourdough starter. Stir to form a thick batter. Pour in the cup of boiling water and stir well until a smooth batter forms.
- Bake. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with only a few crumbs. (The top may crack.)
- Cool. Cover cake with a clean tea towel and allow it to cool directly in the pan. Cool completely before frosting.
- Frost and serve. To make the frosting, combine the melted butter and cocoa in a large mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and milk, alternating with each other, and beat with an electric mixer until a smooth frosting forms. Frost the cake and serve directly out of the pan.
44 thoughts on “One Bowl Sourdough Chocolate Cake”
I want to give this recipe a try & use my discard but have a question.
1/4 sour cream is how the recipe reads —– is it safe to assume 1/4 CUP sour cream?
Thank you very much! (I usually “scratch” my cakes from a box 🙂
Hey Karen! Yes! 1/4 cup! let me fix that now in fact 🙂
The last chocolate cake recipe using SD discard was a bomb, so my family was skeptical when I threw this together last night. HAH! Showed them by baking a beautiful, moist, and delicious cake. I confess, I did add a bit of espresso powder to the batter, but that is my standard for all chocolate cakes. Thanks so much for the great recipe, I got to use 1/2 of jar #1 of discard (it compounds faster than I can bake!).
ha! i do love proving peoplel wrong so i’m very happy I could help you do the same! 🙂
This cake turned out to be a wonderful treat! This recipe is a keeper. The ingredients are always in my kitchen and this comes together quickly and easily. Thanks!
Any changes recommended to make this recipe into cupcakes? Or would you just follow the recipe as is and place in cupcake cups? This looks delicious!!!! I’m definitely going to add coffee!!!
I’d follow it as is! The only thing to keep in mind is I doubt they will form a dome on top. But if that doesn’t bother you, they should be adorable! Please let me know how it goes. 🙂
I made the one bowld sourdough chocolate cake as directed. Ended up with two dozen domed cupcakes. They ended up beautiful 🙂
Merrilee!! I’m so happy your cupcakes domed! Mine didn’t last time I tried 😂. But now I’m inspired to try again!
I’m wondering if I could use “flax eggs” in place of the eggs.
i have never personally tried it but others have with my sourdough lemon cake with success so i don’t see why not!
Hi Katie – thank you very much for your quick reply. If I try it, I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂
Hi! If I wanted to make this a vanilla cake, could I just leave out the cocoa powder or would I need to add more flour? Thanks so much!
hi sarah, i have never tried it! but yes i would add more flour to replace the cocoa powder!
Thank you!! My son really wants a vanilla birthday cake and my husband can only tolerate sourdough recipes. I’m excited to try it. Looks like a super yummy recipe!
Brilliant recipe. The only thing that I didn’t like was the smell of the vegetable oil which was very of putting. Can this be replaced by melted butter or something else?
yes melted butter would be perfect!
Could the vegetable oil of been a little “off”?
I made this cake today. It is fabulous! I doubled the recipe, baked in loaf pans for 40 minutes on convection bake. Double the recipe made 3 nice loaves of cake. I thought it might not rise well because I did not decrease the baking powder. (I live at 6200 ft elevation) However it turned out perfect!
I had a lot of discard to use up, made 9 loaves in all today.
Thanks for the recipe.
Patti I’m so glad the cake was a success! And thanks for the high altitude tip! 🙂
I used an Americano instead of plain hot water and I didn’t have any sour cream so used creme fraiche that I had ~ OMG! I have been making chocolate discard cakes for some time and they generally end up with sourdough lumps ~ not this one. I also did two round cake pans so I could have a layered cake. Easy and yummy!
hi janet! I’m so happy you liked the cake! Love the tip about using coffee, great idea! 🙂
I am not a huge fan of chocolate cake but this one is soooo delicious I ate 4 pieces myself! By far the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made!
I’m so glad you liked it Lawanda!! 🙂
I would like to make this dairy free. I can replace the milk with almond milk but what about the sour cream? Do you have a dairy free recipe using discard?
susie I have a sourdough lemon cake and banana bread that other readers have made dairy free with success. as far as this particular recipe, you could actually try using more starter instead of the sour cream. other than that I’m not sure.
Thanks for this super easy discard recipe. Based on the comments, I added coffee and Kahlua liquor instead of just boiling water. It’s guy delicious flavor.
Hi! Would you happen to know how I could
use cacao instead of cocoa? I understand if not just thought I’d check. Thank you!
Monica I’m sorry I don’t know! 🙁 if it works in a “regular” chocolate cake recipe, it should be fine in this one, though!
I have made this cake twice and my family loves it. I am currently baking it right now for my husband’s birthday. This cake is very moist and taste great!
so happy to hear that! happy birthday to him 🙂
Nummy! Got nothing but rave feed back on this. Super easy, super tasty.
hooray! we love it for how easy it is too! 🙂
Love the cake super easy. I am not sure if I did something wrong with the icing, since it was not smooth. I think I added the right amount of powdered sugar but maybe not. Very good will make again.
Delicious! I use hot coffee instead of boiling water and Greek yogurt replaces sour cream. This is very similar to a chocolate cake I have made for years. I have made the cake twice and cream filled cupcakes once. Thanks for the recipe.
oh pam I love the idea of hot coffee! I am going to try that in my next cake. glad you like the recipe 🙂
I made this today as written. It only needed 35 minutes in my oven. The cake was really delicious. It was moist and not heavy. The icing was perfect! Thank you!
wonderful, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
This cake and frosting were divine!! I made two of your recipes last night, this and the crunchy rolls, and you definitely did NOT disappoint. I got high-fives from my three kids and was astonished myself that I’d put something so delicious together on the spur of the moment. Hahahahaha!! Without doubt, I’ll be using your recipes for further guidance.
I have discard and a birthday coming up…I am looking forward to trying this!
One question, does my discard have to be recently fed?
My discard is definitely not active but hasn’t gone bad as I keep a jar in the fridge that I add to as I discard from my starter and then pull from to make biscuits or crackers (which both call for unfed starter).
no it doesn’t have to be recently fed 🙂
Hello !! Is it possible to do it without sour cream??
Greek yogurt would work! 🙂