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One Bowl Sourdough Chocolate Cake

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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

4.49 from 29 votes
A moist and rich chocolate cake using your discarded sourdough starter.
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 16 pieces
Calories: 373kcal
Author: Katie Shaw
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Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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

Notes

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.

Nutrition

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
Did you make this?Let me know how it was! Please see below for serving ideas, storage instructions, and substitutions.

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.

cropped-sourdough-chocolate-cake.jpg

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.

cropped-sourdoughchocolatecake-17-1.jpg
One Bowl Sourdough Chocolate Cake
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45 thoughts on “One Bowl Sourdough Chocolate Cake”

  1. 3 stars
    Sadly this was a miss for me. The flavor is good but the cake turned out very dry despite having a good looking batter. I checked mine at 25 minutes and it was already done so not overcooked. I will try it again and will add milk to the batter to see if that helps.

    Reply
  2. 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 🙂

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    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!).

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    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!

    Reply
  5. 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!!!

    Reply
    • 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. 🙂

      Reply
    • I made the one bowld sourdough chocolate cake as directed. Ended up with two dozen domed cupcakes. They ended up beautiful 🙂

      Reply
  6. 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!

    Reply
  7. 5 stars
    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?

    Reply
  8. 5 stars
    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.

    Reply
  9. 5 stars
    Hello
    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!
    Thanks ????

    Reply
  10. 5 stars
    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!

    Reply
  11. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  12. 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.

    Reply
  13. 5 stars
    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!

    Reply
  14. 5 stars
    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.

    Reply
  15. 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.

    Reply
  16. 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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  17. 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).

    Reply

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