Sourdough Discard Chocolate Loaf Cake

This chocolate loaf cake from Stacey Ballis is one of our favorite ways to use sourdough discard. The slight tang enhances the deep chocolate flavor and prevents the cake from being too sweet, which makes it ideal for brunch. Add some whipped cream and berries, and you have an elegant dessert for a dinner party. Add some frosting and sprinkles, and you have a fun cake that the kids will approve of at their next slumber party. 

4.0 from 2 reviews
Sourdough Discard Chocolate Loaf Cake
Makes 1 (9x5-inch) cake
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (220 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg (50 grams), room temperature
  • 1 cup (275 grams) sourdough starter discard
  • ½ cup (120 grams) whole buttermilk, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (64 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder (see Note)
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 grams) baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Buttermilk Glaze (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg, beating well. Add sourdough discard, buttermilk, and vanilla, beating until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (If your cocoa is very lumpy, you can sift it in.) With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. Give batter a quick fold with a spatula to ensure bottom of bowl doesn’t have any unmixed ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. Spoon Buttermilk Glaze over cake before serving.
It is important to use Dutch process
cocoa powder in this recipe. Natural process cocoa powder is much more acidic, and the cake will be both lighter in color and a bit bitter if you substitute. Droste is my favorite Dutch process cocoa powder.

4.0 from 2 reviews
Buttermilk Glaze
Makes about ¾ cup
  • 2 cups (240 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (75 grams) whole buttermilk
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and buttermilk until smooth. Use immediately.


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  1. I made this a couple weeks ago, while it wasn’t a favorite it was still decent and a good way to use up discard. My husband found it a bit dry but I think the frosting fixed that and it only seemed to get better with age.

  2. A bit too dense for my liking, and not enough sourdough flavor.. but my toddler loved it so who am I to judge?! I’ll likely make it again 🙂


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