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!).


Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread handwritten recipe
My old recipe…well loved and frequently adapted

Enter sourdough starter

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 Bread 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 was 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!


sourdough pumpkin cake ingredients
It’s just like Pumpkin Bread, just with sourdough starter discard added


making sourdough pumpkin cake batter
Making the batter is quick and easy.


sourdough pumpkin bread before & after baking
I overfilled the pan, but when I leveled the cake, I got to munch on the trimmings!

Morphing into gingerbread

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. How about adding in candied ginger also? 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…..


sourdough pumpkin bread glaze ingredients
Pumpkin Spice glaze really ups the ante on this yummy cake


making sourdough pumpkin cake glaze
The Pumpkin Spice glaze comes together in a flash


lifting out a slice of sourdough pumpkin bread
Look at all those chocolate chunks!


sourdough pumpkin cake on cake stand with plated slice
This pumpkin cake, studded with chocolate, will make a great addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table!

That’s the ticket

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!


Sourdough Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Glaze

This pumpkin cake, bursting with pumpkin spice flavor and rich chocolate chunks topped with a yummy pumpkin spice glaze, is a sure-fire hit...and no one will know there's sourdough starter in the batter!
Adapted from King Arthur Flour 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Cooling Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bundt Cake, Chocolate Chips, Fall Baking, Pumpkin, Quick Breads, Thanksgiving
Servings: 16 pieces
Calories: 240kcal
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones


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 (3-1/2 oz, 100g), packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (8 oz, 227g)
  • 3/4 cup sourdough starter (6 oz, 170g), unfed discard
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached 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 (3oz, 85g), sifted
  • 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)


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a small 6-cup mini bundt pan with baking spray, making sure to get inside the decorative grooves.
  • 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.


Recipe Notes

If you'd prefer to make a Pumpkin Bread, use a 9- x 5-inch standard loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes. You can also double the recipe and bake it in a full-sized 10-12 cup bundt pan or 2 standard loaf pans (and you use the entire can of pumpkin purée), and bake for 60-70 minutes. 
I like Baker's Joy baking's great for spraying bundt cakes, and it hasn't failed me yet!
For a more robust flavor similar to Pumpkin Gingerbread, substitute 1/4 cup (3 oz, 85g) molasses for the brown sugar and add 1/2 tsp ginger. Maybe add some candied gingerbread for good measure!
You can substitute 1/2 cup (2 oz, 57 g) chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup (3 oz, 85g) raisins (or other dried fruit), packed instead of the chocolate chunks (but really, why?)
Don’t overfill the bundt pan…instead fill it 2/3 and make a mini bread with remainder. If you do use all the batter, you might need to level the cake before flipping it over (the benefit is that you get to enjoy the trimmings!).
Just to be on the safe side, place the bundt pan on quarter sheet baking pan to catch overflows while baking.
Nutrition Facts
Sourdough Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Glaze
Amount Per Serving
Calories 240
* 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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