Sourdough Gingerbread is a rich cake reminiscent of days gone by. Plus, no one will guess you used sourdough starter discard (unless you tell them!)

 Memories of a long-ago trip

Many years ago, my DH & I went to New Zealand. It was a wonderful trip through a beautiful country (that had many sheep!). As we traveled, we stayed at a motel chain called the Flag Inn…we’d stay a night, then call ahead to the next location where we’d thought we’d be for the next night’s reservation. One of the benefits of this chain was that every morning by the door there would be fresh whole milk (in a bottle, no less!) and a loaf of gingerbread. That loaf had a deep, rich flavor without being overly assertive or bitter…in other words, utterly delicious.

I’ve been trying for years to recreate a gingerbread that mimics that long-ago loaf, and I think I’ve finally got it. Even better, in my never-ending search for recipes in which to use my sourdough starter discard, it can be used in this recipe without detection. Yup, I now make Sourdough Gingerbread.

(Wait, what?)


Sourdough Spice Cake slice with gourds
Sourdough Spice Cake…a sweet treat that uses sourdough starter (and you can’t tell!)

Sourdough can be sweet

You know I’ve used my weekly sourdough starter in bagels, pretzels, and English muffins, but what about sweets? Well, as long as the baked good you’re making has a strong enough flavor, sourdough starter can be substituted into a sweet recipe successfully. While I wouldn’t use starter discard in vanilla cupcakes, I’ve used it to make Sourdough Spice Cake, Sourdough Crumb Cake, and Sourdough Chocolate Cake. Imagine the possibilities!

My discard has a 50/50 ratio of flour to water. So, to substitute in 1 cup (8 oz) of starter (a convenient amount as that’s my weekly discard), I remove 1 cup (4 oz, 113g) of flour and ½ cup (4 oz, 113g) water from the recipe amounts. There is a slight tang, but again, for strongly flavored items it’s not a problem.

Some important notes

 I adapted this Sourdough Gingerbread recipe from Epicurious’ Old-Fashioned Gingerbread with Molasses Whipped Cream.  This recipe, like most quick bread, comes together quickly and can be made in different forms…as a cake, loaf, or even muffins. One caveat…it’s important that you use a proper sized pan…this recipe will overflow if you’re not careful. You can use a 9- x 9-inch baking pan  or 2 standard loaf pans, but not smaller pans. If you’re concerned about overflow, place the pans on a half-sheet baking pan before placing in the oven.

One complaint I have (and other commenters on Epicurious’ original recipe had) is that the gingerbread sinks in the middle. I did some research and found that maybe the recipe called for too much baking soda. According to Tasting Spoons, “To keep [the] gingerbread recipe from sinking in the middle, [add] the baking soda with the wet ingredients and [mix] the batter to strengthen the flour, giving [the] gingerbread a more sturdy texture while maintaining its moistness.” I haven’t tried it yet, but I might reduce the baking soda to ½ – 1 teaspoon next time and see if it helps. If you try it, please let me know how it goes.


sourdough gingerbread ingredients
See the molasses in the back? That plunger-type measuring cup makes measuring sticky foods much easier


making the sourdough gingerbread batter collage
All the steps to making sourdough gingerbread batter


before & after baking sourdough gingerbread
Before & after baking sourdough gingerbread


Sourdough gingerbread plated with whipped cream
Rich, moist, delicious…and no one will guess you used sourdough starter in the mix!


Sourdough Gingerbread is yummy on its own, but add lightly sweetened whipped cream (how about bourbon whipped cream?) or vanilla ice cream and you’ve really got a scrumptious dessert. And it’s not just for dessert…as that trip to New Zealand proved, gingerbread for breakfast is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged! Ah…good memories.

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!


Sourdough Gingerbread

A rich, moist gingerbread reminiscent of days gone by. No one will guess you used sourdough starter discard (unless you tell them!)
Adapted from Epicurious
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Cooling Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Autumn Baking, Cake, Fall Baking, Gingerbread, Molasses, Quick Breads, Sourdough, Sourdough Starter, Sourdough Starter Discard
Servings: 16 pieces
Calories: 195kcal
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones


  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (5-1/4 oz,150g)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (1-3/4 oz, 50g)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz, 114g), room temperature
  • 3/4 cup molasses (9 oz, 255g), mild-flavored (light), not blackstrap
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sourdough starter discard (8 oz, 227g), room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4-1/4 oz 120g)
  • 2 tsp baking soda, see Recipe Notes
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chilled whipping cream (2 oz 56g)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water (2 oz 56g)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9- x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, then spray with baking spray.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or hand mixer), beat the brown sugar, sugar, and butter in large bowl until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in molasses, then eggs 1 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the sourdough starter and blend on low speed until just combined.
  • In a small bowl, sift in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together. Add to wet ingredients and mix on low speed. Beat in the cream, then the boiling water. Transfer the batter to prepared pan.
  • Bake the cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  • Cool the cake in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely..
  • Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Make sure to use the proper size pan (a 9- x 9-inch baking pan) or the batter will overflow. If you’re worried, put cake on a half-sheet baking pan, then place in oven. Can make 2 large loaves in a standard loaf pan, just bake the loaves for closer to an hour.
To prevent the cake from sinking, try reducing the baking soda to 1/2 - 1 teaspoon. Add the baking soda t0 the wet ingredients and mix the batter well to strengthen the flour.
Nutrition Facts
Sourdough Gingerbread
Amount Per Serving
Calories 195
* Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 cal per day diet.
Did you make this recipe?Please share your pictures with the world...mention @scotch_scones and tag #scotchandsconesblog on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. I can't wait to see your creations!

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