Sourdough carrot cake with pineapple filling tardily fits the bill for bunny season

We’re sorry if we’ve posted too late to help elevate some folks’ celebrations, but we must admit we like this carrot cake for reasons entirely unrelated to Easter. For a few years now Steve has shepherded a Gourmandistani-native yeast sourdough starter, cherishing his little colony after an initially disappointing start (which did lead to a tasty if not sour outcome). As others who have nurtured sourdough starter understand, the little eukaryotes demand regular care—pouring off hooch (alcohol, if you didn’t know), removing a bit, then mixing in fresh flour and water.

Steve, who for some reason hates to waste what amounts to boozy paste, usually tries to find something to do with his regular amount of castoff starter. He learned to produce a delicous loaf of sourdough bread, but grew tired of the three-day routine to get there when our genius baker’s miche is readily available. Waffles are good, but the batter has to proof overnight, and Steve’s usual breakfast is yogurt. And for a good reason—Michelle makes excellent desserts, of which this sourdough carrot cake definitely is.

Adapted from a recipe Michelle found from King Arthur Flour via Facebook, this carrot cake seems denser, smoother and tangier than the usual sort. The decadent cream cheese icing and the pineapple filling Michelle added (because she, too, hates to waste things and there was pineapple left over from the cake recipe) obviously help, but we’re sold on the idea of sourdough starter as a cake ingredient. Poking around the internet we’ve realized this carrot cake isn’t the only dessert using sourdough starter. When it comes to dealing with our yeast, we’ve certainly got some new things to explore.

Happy spring!


  • Servings: one 8-inch cake
  • Print

(cake and icing adapted from King Arthur Flour/pineapple filling adapted from Gourmet Magazine via Epicurious)


  • 1 c. crushed pineapple (about half a 20-oz. can), drained
  • 2 c. grated carrots
  • 1/2 c. chopped lightly toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 -1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. sourdough starter
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter, flour and line bottoms two 8″ x 2″ round cake pans with parchment paper.

Mix pineapple, carrots, walnuts and coconut together in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and toss with a fork.

Combine the oil, sugar and vanilla in bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the starter. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Then, fold in pineapple mixture.

Add the dry ingredients, stirring just to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cake layers for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake layers on racks. When completely cool, cut each layer in half with a serrated knife.


  • 10 oz. crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 1 TB granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 TB finely chopped candied ginger

Mix all ingredients except ginger together in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring, until thickened. (If it seems too thin, sprinkle in a little more cornstarch.) Remove from heat, stir in ginger and chill.


  • 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped candied ginger
  • 5 to 6 c. confectioners sugar
  • 4 TB milk

Combine butter, cream cheese, vanilla and ginger in bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until light and fluffy, then start adding sugar alternately with the milk. Beat until fluffy and sugar is fully incorporated and mixture is spreadable.


Place one cake layer on a plate. Add a layer of cream cheese frosting. Top with second cake layer. Top with all the chilled pineapple filling, followed by another cake layer, another frosting layer and the final cake layer. Ice top and sides of cake. Press some toasted chopped walnuts into the sides of the cake, if desired.

Store cake in refrigerator. Bring slices to room temperature before serving.


  1. 1 cup of starter seems a lot…what is the sourdough’s feeding regime? out of curiosity of course… I refresh daily using 20 g starter + 30 g water + 30 g flour (and I then refresh it twice over 12 hours, with increasing quantities, to build it up to the required quantity/tip I got from the excellent Wild Yeast_Susan)); thus I have minimal waste (but in the past I also tried the extravagant refreshments of Tartine – now, that’s wasting!)

    cakes using a starter: In my files I have a sourdough chocolate cake, which I picked originally from Orangette.net and then devised to suit my taste: it was pretty good, I remember (here it is: https://qbbq.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/una-strana-torta-di-cioccolato/ in Italian- ask google translator if interested)(or me, of course)
    has spring landed on yr shores? here in London still pray and rather cold and miserable

    • Steve

      I usually feed ours once every week, at minimum discarding about 1/4 cup (@85 grams?) and refreshing with equal amounts water and flour. Or, as in the case of the cake, I replace the amount used with equal amounts of water and flour. I may try in the next week or so to build the amount to perhaps a couple of cups, as cakes such as the one you linked to are very tempting!

  2. ah, that explains the 1 c starter u used/cake: it was good, even if I remember I had to play around with cooking times (e.i. one has to be extra careful, otherwise the risk chocolate desert/dry cake is very high.

  3. I have a few pancake varieties I make with discarded SD starter, but this us a whole new level. I have a soft spot for carrot cake and pineapple so I’ll be trying this one very soon.

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