Sourdough Pumpkin Cake is bursting with pumpkin spice flavor, rich chocolate, and topped with pumpkin spice glaze...no one will notice the sourdough starter!
Tinkering with tradition
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.
Like all quick breads, my old reliable pumpkin bread recipe is versatile in its presentation…a full recipe can make 2 breads (baked in standard loaf pans), 8 mini loaves, 12 muffins, or a full-sized bundt cake. Halve the recipe and you have the perfect amount of batter for a mini bundt cake.
That’s what I decided to do…convert my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread recipe to a mini Sourdough Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Cake. And ok, let’s dress it up with a Pumpkin Spice glaze. Hell, yeah!
What you need
For the cake
- Canola oil: Fat adds richness and flavor
- Sugar: Adds sweetness
- Dark brown sugar: Adds sweetness and moisture
- Eggs: Gives the cake structure
- Pumpkin purée: Adds moisture and flavor...it wouldn't be Pumpkin Cake without it
- Sourdough starter discard: I have it...I'll use it
- Vanilla extract: An important flavoring, vanilla adds a rich base
- All-purpose flour: The basic starting point of any cake
- Salt: Helps to counterbalance the sweetness and adds a flavor undertone
- Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom: All the spices that give pumpkin bread its distinctive flavor
- Baking powder & baking soda: These chemical leavening agents lets the cake rise
- Semi-sweet chocolate chunks: Garnish...because, chocolate!
For the glaze
- Powdered sugar: What gives a glaze its body and sweetness
- Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg: Mimics the flavors in the cake
- Milk: Liquid to help the glaze to achieve desired consistency
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.
If you’d like a sourdough pumpkin cake with a more robust flavor, try substituting 1/4 cup molasses for the brown sugar and add 1/2 tsp ginger to the batter. Now you’ve got yourself a Sourdough Pumpkin Gingerbread!
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 2/3 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...
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 the bread to a pretty cake nice enough to be served at a Thanksgiving table (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!
More recipes using sourdough starter discard
- Sourdough Bagels
- Sourdough Pretzels
- Sourdough Dinner Rolls
- Sourdough English Muffins
- Sourdough Focaccia
- Sourdough Rye Sandwich Bread
- Sourdough Gingerbread
- Sourdough Naan
And, if you sign up for my weekly notification (in the sidebar of this page), 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
- 1/3 cup canola oil, (2-1/4 oz, 60g)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, (3-1/2 oz, 100g)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (3-1/2 oz, 100g)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin purée, (8 oz, 227g)
- 3/4 cup sourdough starter, unfed discard (6 oz, 170g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, (8-1/2 oz, 240g)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks, (6 oz, 170g)
For the glaze
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted (3oz, 85g)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1-2 Tbsp milk, to achieve desired consistency (adjust as necessary)
- whipped cream, lightly sweetened (optional)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and pumpkin. Stir in the starter and vanilla.
- In a medium 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 and bake for 50 to 60 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 Tbsp of milk, stir to combine. Adjust the consistency by adding 1 tsp 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.