One Bowl Sourdough Chocolate Cake

Use your discard sourdough starter to make this rich, moist sourdough chocolate cake topped with an easy and delicious chocolate frosting.

Don’t worry; there’s no sourdough taste. You don’t even have to share your secret ingredient 😉. All the normal people in your life will just know it’s the best chocolate cake they’ve ever tasted.

You’ll the fact that you don’t need a stand mixer or anything fancy here. Just pantry ingredients and a hot water method for an extra moist cake.

One of my most beloved sourdough discard recipes.

glass baking dish with missing piece of sourdough chocolate cake

One Bowl Sourdough Chocolate Cake

A moist and rich chocolate cake using your discarded sourdough starter.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Serving Size 16 pieces


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
  • cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 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.
    mixing bowl with sugar, cocoa, flour.
  • 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.
    mixing bowl showing lumpy batter being formed.
  • 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.
    frosting in mixing bowl and spread on cake


If you have a smaller amount of sourdough discard to use, use 1/2 cup of discard and 1/2 cup of sour cream
Cake can also be baked as 2 rounds.
Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 213mg | Potassium: 150mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 292IU | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg

Notes about ingredients you’ll need for this cake

Sourdough discard. The sourdough starter adds a richness to the cake that is somewhat like a cake made with buttermilk: not sour, but definitely delicious.

Cocoa. We always use Hershey’s for the cocoa; no need to get fancy!

Sour cream. It helps make your cake extra moist and takes the place of milk in this recipe.

cake ingredients laid out on white surface

Everything else is just pantry ingredients!

👩‍🍳 Tips for the best sourdough cake

Lumpy Batter. The batter will seem very thick and lumpy. That’s okay, just stir it up the best you can.

Hot water When you add the water and mix up the batter well. It will magically smooth out as you stir and look like a “normal” cake batter.

Pan Lining: You can also line the 9×13 pan with parchment paper for easier removal and cutting.


Check for Doneness: Oven temperatures can vary. Start checking the cake around the 30-minute mark to avoid overbaking.

Frosting Texture: If your frosting turns out too thick, you can add a tablespoon or so of milk to reach your desired consistency. Conversely, if it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar.

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🔍 Faqs

Can you make this into cupcakes?

Absolutely! You should get about 24 cupcakes. Start checking for doneness at 20 minutes, and be sure to use cupcake liners.

Can I make this as a loaf cake?

Yes, but the recipe will fill about 1.5 loaf pans. You could always double it and get 3 loaves!

What if I don’t have sour cream?

You can substitute creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, or more sourdough starter.

How can I make this cake vegan?

Replace the eggs with flax eggs (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 2.5 tbsp water per egg), and use dairy-free sour cream.

Storing Leftover Cake

Any leftovers will keep well, tightly covered, in the fridge for 5 days or so, or at room temperature for about 3 days.

If you’d like to freeze your leftovers, I recommend wrapping individual slices in plastic wrap and sticking them all in a zipper-top bag. They come out quite well! Just let them defrost on the counter.

One Bowl Sourdough Chocolate Cake

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I was wondering if I can put the batter in the refrigerator after all ingredients are mixed and let it ferment for about 8-10 hours before I bake it?

  2. 5 stars
    I’m new to the sour dough game and tried this cake recipe. It came out perfect & EVERYONE who tried it loved it. So easy & cake itself is not overly sweet-more like dark chocolate cake-like -brownie. DELICIOUS & so simple.

  3. 5 stars
    This was so delicious–thank you! I was craving chocolate cake, and I only make cake for special occasions because of all the sugar, but I made this for no special reason and because it seems to have less sugar than other recipes. I used Einkorn flour, cacao powder, and coconut oil. I did half the amount of icing and just melted the butter and cacao on the stove and stirred by hand, spread on while still warm, Texas sheet cake style. It actually reminds me of Texas sheet cake! Which I never make anymore because it has SO much sugar and butter, but this was moist and delicious even though I reduced the sugar in the cake to 1 cup since Einkorn flour needs less moisture (although I might just use the full amount next time).

  4. 5 stars
    I made this cake even though I was skeptical it might not come out like I wanted,but to my surprise it was delicious! It was moist,not even dry. I did cut back on the sugar on the cake and frosting. I want to try the vanilla cake next.