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Sourdough Apple Cake

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This sourdough apple cake has a delicious spiced apple flavor and is topped with a creamy maple buttercream frosting. The sourdough starter in it is virtually undetectable except for a slightly tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with the apples, making an incredibly moist cake. This easy apple sourdough recipe is a great way to use extra sourdough discard. Your family and friends will love it!

a cake pan with sourdough cake with cake plates and forks on top of a yellow and white striped napkin

Sourdough coffee 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 and covered with amazing cream cheese, maple extract, butter, and powdered sugar frosting. You won’t be able to resist licking your fingers any time you cut a slice of the cake.

What’s a Coffee Cake?

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

This apple cake from scratch doesn’t have coffee in it, but rather, it’s perfect to serve with coffee (or tea). My Sunken Apple Cake is traditionally served in Germany in the afternoon during tea or coffee time.

Cakes like this sourdough apple cake and sunken apple cake are ideal for brunch served with coffee or as a snack in the afternoon with a nice cup of tea.

Sourdough Discard Recipes

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.

Learn more about sourdough in this WebMD article.

Sourdough discard or starter is used in this cake to make it slightly tangy, to give an extra rise to the batter, and to make it moist and tender. If you’ve made your own starter or have been gifted it by a friend, you know that when you feed it with flour and water, it starts to grow.

Two jars of sourdough starter

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.

Or you can use it!

When you’re ready to make bread or this yummy sourdough discard cake, just pull some starter from the jar on your counter or from the fridge.

Be sure not to feed it right before you use it. A hungry starter will work best in this sourdough discard recipe. If you feed it right before you use it, the starter will be less active and taste more like flour.

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 cake as well.

You can’t go wrong with any of them!

crates of baking apples

Sourdough Cake Ingredients and Tips

  • Butter: It should be room temperature or softened
  • Vegetable oil: A little of both 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 sugar: This helps the cake stay moist and adds sweetness
  • Eggs: Be sure they are room temperature and not cold right from the fridge
  • Self-rising flour: You can use all-purpose flour here, but the self-rising flour will help the cake be light and fluffy (see recipe notes for all purpose flour)
  • Pumpkin pie spice: If you don’t have this already blended, you can make your own with the notes in the recipe
  • Baking soda: This is a leavener that helps the cake rise
  • Apples: Peel, and grate or slice into small pieces (I prefer Honeycrisp, but almost any sweet apple will work here)
  • Sourdough starter: Use the starter before you feeding it
mixing bowl filled with apple cake ingredients

How to Make a Sourdough Coffee Cake

It’s very simple to make this delightful cake sourdough recipe. Here are the easy steps:

Preheat the oven to 350º F 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

In a separate 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 mixed together.

a bowl of grated apple

Pour sourdough apple cake 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

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my coffee 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.

Does coffee cake taste like coffee?

No, it doesn’t taste like coffee because there is no coffee added to this cake. The name refers to the fact that it’s great paired with a fresh cup of coffee (or tea).

Can I freeze this sourdough coffee 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

These quick sourdough recipes are great any day of the week!

Sourdough Cake Recipe

sourdough cake in a white cake pan
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5 from 1 vote

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.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword Sourdough, Apples, easy apple cake, apple cake, apple coffee cake, sourdough discard recipes, sourdough cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 580kcal

Equipment

  • 13" x 9" cake pan
  • hand or stand mixer

Ingredients

Sourdough Apple Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature or softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large large eggs, room temperature
  • cups self-rising flour
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (see notes for substitutions)
  • 1 tsp 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 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature or softened
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 tsp maple extract (can substitute with vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

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.

Notes

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

Nutrition

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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