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Sourdough Apple Cake

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This Sourdough Apple Cake recipe has a delicious spiced apple flavor and is topped with a creamy maple buttercream frosting and is a great way to use your extra sourdough discard.

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a piece of sourdough apple cake with the pan of apple spice cake in the background

The sourdough starter in it is virtually undetectable except for a slightly tangy flavor. It pairs perfectly with the apples to make an incredibly moist cake. Your family and friends will love it!

Sourdough apple cake is the perfect breakfast, brunch, or snack. This cake is dotted with chunks of warm apple combined with the warm flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves.

The scent of this amazing combination will have you itching to cut that first slice before the cake has even cooled.

This easy apple cake recipe from scratch is light and fluffy. Plus, it’s covered with amazing cream cheese, maple extract, butter, and powdered sugar frosting.

Perfect Apple Cake to Pair with Coffee

This apple cake from scratch doesn’t have coffee in it. But, it is perfect to serve with coffee (or tea).

This apple cake is a light and tender sourdough cake that usually has a streusel topping, sweet icing, or frosting and is served with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

This is just like my Sunken Apple Cake, which is traditionally served in Germany in the afternoon during tea or coffee time.

Whether you use your discard sourdough starter or make a new batch, this cake recipe is a delicious way to use it up! It’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, or a snack with a cup of coffee or tea.

a freshly frosted pan of sourdough spice cake

Sourdough Discard Cake Recipe

You’ll need an active sourdough starter for this apple cake recipe. Check out my homemade sourdough starter recipe to make a fail-proof starter that’s ready in a week.

Sourdough discard or starter is used in this cake for a slightly tangy taste. It also gives an extra rise to the batter and makes it moist and tender.

If you’ve made your own starter (or have been gifted) you know that it’s fed with flour and water it bubbles up.

Soon, it will be overflowing the jar it’s stored in if you don’t discard some when you feed the starter!

In the spirit of not throwing away perfectly good sourdough starter, you can put some in a second jar and save it in the fridge until you need it later.

In fact, you can find out how to keep a discard jar in my sourdough starter post. The cold fridge will slow down the growth so you only need to feed it every few weeks.

Two jars of sourdough starter
Learn more about the benefits of sourdough in this WebMD article.

The Best Apples for Making Apple Cake

When baking apples, you want them to soften but not get mushy.

Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, and Honey Crisp are perfect for using them this way.

They are crunchy, slightly tart, and a little sweet. The tartness helps balance out the sweetness of the sourdough apple cake as well. You can’t go wrong with any of them!

crates of baking apples

Sourdough Cake Ingredients and Tips

  • Butterroom temperature or softened
  • Vegetable oilboth butter and oil helps the cake stay moist and get golden edges
  • Sugar – granulated sugar is used for sweetness and to help the cake brown
  • Brown sugarhelps the cake stay moist and adds sweetness
  • Eggsroom temperature and not cold from the fridge
  • Self-rising flourthis isn’t all purpose flour (see recipe notes to use all purpose flour)
  • Pumpkin pie spicemake your own with the notes in the recipe
  • Baking sodaa leavener that helps the cake rise
  • ApplesI prefer Honeycrisp, but almost any sweet apple will work here
  • Sourdough starterstarter fed at least 12 hours prior (discard)
mixing bowl filled with apple cake ingredients

Kitchen Tools Needed

How to Make a Sourdough Apple Cake

Combine the wet ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 ºF and spray a cake pan with cooking spray. Combine the butter, oil, sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with a mixer until light in color and creamy.

a mixing bowl of sourdough cake ingredients

Combine the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients including the flour, spices, and baking soda. Add this to the wet ingredients and stir on low speed with a stand mixer for 30 seconds or fold together with a spoon by hand.

Stir in apples and sourdough starter discard by hand until the cake batter is mixed together.

a bowl of grated apple

Bake the cake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes and until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let it cool before covering it with the maple cream cheese frosting.

a white pan of sourdough apple cake with small EAT plates and forks on top of a yellow and white napkin

Recipe Variations

  • Add chopped pecans or walnuts to the batter for a crunchy cake.
  • Use gluten-free flour to make a gluten-free apple cake.
  • Substitute the pumpkin pie spice for 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Add 1/2 cup of diced fresh cranberries for a sourdough cranberry cake.

Make Ahead and Storage Instructions

This cake will stay moist for up to 4 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If you want to make it ahead of time, bake the cake and frosting separately. Store them in the fridge and then assemble the cake when you’re ready to serve it.

This cake can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Wrap it tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and then place it in a freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.

To reheat, place a slice of cake on a plate and microwave for 15-20 seconds or until warmed through.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my apple cake so dry?

If your coffee cake sometimes turns out dry, it may be because it baked for too long. For this recipe, check the cake after 35 minutes. You can test it by inserting a wooden toothpick into the center of the cake and seeing if it comes out clean. Or check the temperature of the cake – aim for around 208° F when you insert an instant digital thermometer into the center of the cake.

Can I freeze this sourdough apple cake?

Yes! Just wrap the cake in plastic wrap and then put it in a gallon zip-top bag before freezing it. It will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Get More Sourdough Discard Recipes

Get the Full Sourdough Discard Apple Cake Recipe Here

sourdough cake in a white cake pan

Sourdough Apple Cake

This tender and moist apple cake recipe uses a sourdough starter and apples to create the taste of fall. And it's a tasty way to use up your sourdough discard.
5 from 1 vote
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 580 kcal


  • 13" x 9" cake pan - or casserole dish
  • hand or stand mixer


Sourdough Apple Cake

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature or softened
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 large large eggs, room temperature
  • cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (see notes for substitutions)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and grated or sliced in to small pieces (I prefer Honeycrisp, but almost any sweet apple will work here)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter, unfed/discard

Maple Buttercream Frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature or softened
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons maple extract (can substitute with vanilla extract)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


Sourdough Apple Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F. Spray a 13" x 9" cake pan with cooking spray.
  • Add butter, oil, sugar, and eggs to a large mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes, until light in color and creamy.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients: flour, spices, baking soda). Add to wet ingredients and stir on low speed for 30 seconds or fold together with a spoon by hand. Stir in apples and sourdough starter discard by hand until mixed together, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour sourdough apple cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a medium mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter, and confectioners sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add salt and maple extract.
  • Add frosting to the top of the cooled cake and serve.


Substitution for pumpkin pie spice:
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg


Serving: 1piece | Calories: 580kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 346mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 60g | Vitamin A: 512IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 1mg
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