Sourdough Pumpkin Cake is bursting with pumpkin spice, rich chocolate, & is topped with a spiced glaze. Hide your sourdough discard here!
Every Thanksgiving for the last, oh, 35 years or so, my Father-in-law insists that I bring my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (he says it’s my “ticket to enter”…he’s such a kidder...I think).
This recipe is tried-and-true, so why tinker with tradition? Well, if we didn’t tinker with recipes, there wouldn’t be anything new invented.
In this case, we can play with the garnishing ingredients. Years ago I substituted chocolate chips for the nuts in my original recipe. Or you can use raisins or other dried fruit, or put any combination of nuts, chocolate, and raisins you’d like (but really…chocolate!).
Using sourdough starter discard
What I really wanted to know is if I used unfed sourdough starter in my pumpkin bread, would it be noticed?
Longtime readers know my search for uses for my weekly sourdough starter discard has bordered on obsessive. My search has led me to make bagels, dinner rolls, English muffins, and pretzels, all using the sourdough discard. On the sweet side I’ve made Sourdough Gingerbread and Sourdough Spice Cake, so Sourdough Pumpkin Cake sounded plausible.
I felt validated when I found this Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Bread recipe on King Arthur Flour. If they say it’s ok…well…that’s good enough for me.
What makes it pumpkin spice?
I converted my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread recipe to a mini Sourdough Pumpkin Cake, and dressed it up with a Pumpkin Spice glaze.
The actual composition of Pumpkin Spice can be different for different chefs, but I chose cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom. You could also use ginger or allspice for the cloves, nutmeg, and/or cardamom. Or, just use two teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of all the spices. Your call.
If you’d like a sourdough pumpkin cake with a more robust flavor, try substituting ¼ cup molasses for the brown sugar and add ½ teaspoon ginger to the batter. Now you’ve got yourself a Sourdough Pumpkin Gingerbread!
Powdered sugar is what gives a glaze its body and sweetness, while those warm baking spices mimic the flavors in the cake
My old reliable pumpkin bread recipe is versatile in its presentation.A full recipe can make two breads (baked in standard loaf pans), eight mini loaves (baked in mini loaf pans), or twelve muffins, or a full-sized bundt cake. Halve the recipe and you have the perfect amount of batter for a mini bundt cake.
Like all quick breads, this cake was quick to prepare. Mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredient, and put it in a pan. Easy peasy.
A word of caution…the recipe made a little more batter than I expected, and I overfilled my mini bundt pan to the point that it rose up and covered the central hole. I would suggest to fill the pan about ⅔ full, and use the rest to make a mini pumpkin bread loaf.
Otherwise, do what I did…level the cake with a serrated bread knife before flipping it over. The upside is that you get to enjoy all the trimmings. Yummm...
Sifting the powdered sugar before making the glaze helps to keep it smooth. I know I don't like to waste time chasing powdered sugar lumps, do you?
My sifter allows me to sift directly into an attached bowl, then I just whisk in the rest of the ingredients. So convenient!
Pretty enough for any holiday table
This Sourdough Pumpkin Cake is cute and tasty, bursting with pumpkin spice flavor and rich chocolate chunks. The yummy pumpkin spice glaze takes it to a whole other level, elevating it to a cake nice enough to be served at a Thanksgiving or other holiday table.
Remember, you can make it full-sized if you're feeding more than 8 people.
Will my Father-in-law let me in the door if I show up with this pumpkin cake? Time will tell, but my gut feeling is I’m set for the next 35 years!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Recipes using sourdough starter discard
When you maintain a sourdough starter, you have a dilemma. What do you do with your unfed sourdough starter discard? I've got lots of suggestions for sweet and savory ways to use your fed sourdough starter and the sourdough starter discard. Here are a few samples...
And, if you sign up for my mailing list, I’ll send you a link for my Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread recipe! Such tangy goodness...I can't even.
Sourdough Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Glaze
For the cake
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- ¾ cup sourdough starter discard, unfed
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon, see Recipe Notes
- ½ tsp ground cloves, see Recipe Notes
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ tsp cardamom, see Recipe Notes
- 1 cup chocolate chunks, or chocolate chips
For the glaze
- ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 to 2 Tbsp milk, to achieve desired consistency (adjust as necessary)
- whipped cream, lightly sweetened (optional)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and pumpkin. Stir in the starter and vanilla.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until evenly combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, no more than ⅔ full. Use the remainder to make a small loaf in a mini loaf pan, if desired. Bake the bundt cake for 40 to 50 minutes (the small loaf will take 20 to 25 minutes), until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool it in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before turning it out of the pan back onto the rack. Allow the cake to finish cooling completely.
- For the glaze: sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl (this helps prevent lumps in the finished glaze). Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and whisk until combined. Add 1 tablespoon of milk, stir to combine. Adjust the consistency by adding 1 teaspoon of milk or more sifted powdered sugar as needed.
- Drizzle the glaze onto the cake. Allow the glaze to set before serving.
- Serve the pumpkin cake with lightly sweetened sweet cream (if desired) and enjoy!
- Store the cake at room temperature in a sealed container for several days; freeze for longer storage.
- Pumpkin Bread: use a 9- x 5-inch standard loaf pan and bake for 60 to 65 minutes.
- Mini Pumpkin Breads: use four mini loaf pans, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Full-size Cake: double the recipe (use the entire can of pumpkin purée), and bake it in a full-sized 10-12 cup bundt pan or 2 standard loaf pans. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes.