Sourdough Discard Vegan Carrot Cake

frosting a sourdough carrot cake in the pan with coconut buttercream frosting
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Wash your hands

Another sourdough discard cake for your unfed starter

The sourdough chocolate cake I posted last week was a big hit on my blog, in my mom’s kitchen and at my friend’s house, where I dropped off a cake on the weekend for her family.

So I decided to try a carrot cake version. OMG it’s good. My 88-year old mother, who had never heard the term “vegan,” said she couldn’t believe this delicious cake contains neither dairy nor eggs.

Like the chocolate cake, I based this carrot cake on a depression-era cake that my daughter MK used to bake regularly when she cooked in our community kitchen for a large crowd and had to attempt to stay within a budget.

I also came up with a delicious and easy coconut buttercream frosting for this cake or for the chocolate one. It takes only a few minutes to make and does not contain dairy. The cake tastes delicious either with or without the frosting—I tested both just to be sure.

Quick, 5-ingredient coconut buttercream frosting

Let them eat discard

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, go here for directions to start and nurture one that won’t send you over the edge. For discard recipes like this cake, use the unfed, inactive starter you remove from your sourdough jar at each feeding. It won’t have many bubbles in it—if any—and will taste quite sour. That doesn’t make a sour cake though.

And for more discard recipes, see the following posts:

Not sure what’s going on with your starter? Go here for the answers to your sourdough starter questions.

sourdough discard left over from sourdough feedings
Unfed sourdough discard from the refrigerator
Use a measuring cup to measure and combine the liquid ingredients for fewer dirty dishes
sourdough discard carrot cake cooling before frosting
Cooling carrot cake
frosting a sourdough carrot cake in the pan with coconut buttercream frosting
Sourdough discard carrot cake with coconut buttercream frosting
frosting a sourdough carrot cake in the pan with coconut buttercream frosting
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4.67 from 6 votes

Sourdough Discard Vegan Carrot Cake

Servings: 12


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup unfed discarded starter straight from the refrigerator, stirred down
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar white, cider, or strong homemade
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • cup olive oil plus more for greasing the pan
  • cups shredded carrots
  • 1 recipe coconut buttercream frosting if desired


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease an 8-inch by 8-inch glass or metal baking pan.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Stir in raisins.
  • In another medium bowl, combine unfed discarded starter, cold water, vinegar, vanilla extract and olive oil. Stir in shredded carrots.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until moistened and pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a fork inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the pan on a baking rack.
  • If frosting the cake, allow it to cool completely first.


  1. All of my sourdough recipes use a 100 percent hydration sourdough starter, meaning the starter contains equal parts water and flour by weight (not volume).

27 Replies to “Sourdough Discard Vegan Carrot Cake”

  1. I’m excited to try this cake. The chocolate sourdough discard cake was the best!😋

  2. This makes me so happy! Your sourdough recipes are at the top of my “quarantine is that bad” list. You are keeping me sane with your fantastic recipes and super fun instagram. You and your mom are my favorite people right now. 😀

  3. I’m wondering why the instructions call for an 8 by 8 inch pan but judging by your pictures that’s not what you use? Is the cake intended to be thicker and you just don’t have the desired pan at the moment?

  4. Becky Meyer says: Reply

    Well, the chocolate cake was a HUGE success at our house so I can’t wait to try this one! Thanks for the recipes!

  5. Becky Meyer says: Reply

    Am I allowed a second comment? I made this today and it is DELICIOUS, even without the frosting. I didn’t have golden raisins so substituted chopped walnuts. Amazing. We can’t stop eating it. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it Becky. I meant to add walnuts to the recipe as an option. I wanted to put them in mine didn’t have any. I think they would taste delicious. I’m so glad you liked it 🙂
      ~ Anne Marie

  6. I don’t have any carrots but do have butternut squash and pumpkin…do you think either of those would substitute?

  7. Proestakis Anna says: Reply

    I have both a white flour starter and a rye one; which one should I use? Also, I want to make a birthday cake so can I double the recipe and bake it in two round cake pans?

    1. Hi Anna,
      My starter is half white/half whole wheat at the moment but I don’t think it really matters. Either one will work. And yes, I would double it and bake it in two round pans.
      Anne Marie

  8. I always seem to have carrots I need to use up, and I’m always looking for new sourdough discard recipes, and this is excellent! I made it yesterday and it is delicious, even without any icing! Thank you 🙂

    FYI re: the pan size, I had the same question as Tamara above, but went ahead and made it in an 8×8 and it’s perfect, although I baked it for 35-40 minutes.

  9. Tried this cake this weekend after the chocolate cake was a hit last week. The taste of this cake was beautiful however after 30 mins It was still a bit batter-y, even with the knife test showing dry. Next time will cook it for another 10 mins. I used a cream cheese frosting with it and it went so well. Also I noticed the shredded carrots looked green inside the cooked cake, like they had oxidised or something? Does anyone know if that’s a thing?

    Thanks for all the discard recipes, I made the sourdough crackers over the weekend too and they were so good, everyone loved them!

    1. I had a batter y center as well after 30 minutes in the pan size recommended in the recipe. Your photo shows a larger pan so next time I’ll use that or bake 40 minutes. Flavor was wonderful

  10. […] Adapted from:Zero-Waste Chef: Sourdough Discard Vegan Carrot Cake […]

  11. […] Sourdough discard vegan chocolate cake. My daughter MK used to make depression-era chocolate cake when she cooked at our intentional community. It’s an easy dessert for a crowd. I sourdough-ized it and use olive oil and brown sugar for more flavor. Find the recipe here. For a carrot cake version, go here. […]

  12. Great way to use up sourdough discard (I tend to stick to discard pancakes in the morning but wanted to switch it up)! Cooked for 35 mins and used about 3/4 of the suggested sugar. Thank you for sharing your recipe Anne Marie!

    1. Hi Mital,
      Thank you very much for the feedback!
      ~ Anne Marie

  13. I made this one today and it worked out beautifully. My starter is half rye and it works really nicely with this recipe. I didn’t have golden raisins, but used sultanas instead.

    1. Yay! So glad you liked it Marcella. Thanks for the info on the starter and raisins 🙂
      ~ Anne Marie

  14. Hi I’m a newbie to Sourdough, following your recipes for Sourdough discard ,just made this lovely carrot 🥕 cake. Gorgeous! Thanks Mardie.

  15. I have made this recently using chopped apples instead of carrots and it makes a delicious autumn apple cake! With chopped walnuts on top it doesn’t need any icing at all.

    1. Hi Becky,
      What a great combo. I’m going to try that also. Thanks for the idea.
      ~ Anne-Marie

  16. Could something be substituted for the oil in this recipe?

    1. Hi Sean,
      I haven’t tried a substitution so I’m not sure. If you feel like experimenting, you could try applesauce or puréed pumpkin. I know people use those in lieu of oil for baking but I don’t know how it will behave in this recipe. If you feel like experimenting, you could make half the recipe and see how it goes. Like I said, I haven’t tried it so no guarantees it will work.
      ~ Anne-Marie

  17. Hi, I made a gluten-free version of this cake today and we loved it! Thanks for the recipe! I used our teff flour sourdough starter discard, used blend of flours (1:1:2 buckwheat:teff:grocery store gluten free flour blend), added an egg and cut the sugar back to 3/4 cup. The crumb was perfect! I may add some ground ginger next time. We didn’t ice it and the sweetness was consistent with a quick bread or muffin more than a cake, which is what we prefer. Thanks so much!

  18. What a Wonderful cake! I would serve this to company. I doubled the recipe and baked in two separate 8×8 pans. It took baking 10 min longer to firm up the centers. We skipped the frosting and served with fresh whipped cream for the omnivores in the family. Yum!

  19. Taylor Metzler says: Reply

    Very yummy, even my son liked it. I did find it a bit too sweet – I don’t like frosting but I had some leftover syrup from a different recipe so I poured a little of that on it. I’d probably skip the syrup and drop the sugar to maybe 75 g next time. But otherwise delicious.

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