Pumpkin Maple Sourdough Cake

Sourdough Pumpkin-Maple Cake

Welcome back to Doughvember! This week, Linda and I are giving away sourdough-related prizes, so keep reading if you’re interested in today’s giveaway.  Have you had any sourdough adventures yet this month?  I’m saving my bread baking for the second half of the month, but this week I decided to experiment with using sourdough starter to replace part of the flour and water in a simple pumpkin maple sourdough cake.

The great thing about keeping a sourdough starter is that you can experiment with using it in all sorts of recipes.  As long as you know the percentage of flour to water in your starter, it’s easy to figure out how much flour and liquid to replace in a recipe.  I keep my sourdough starter at 100% hydration.  That means that I feed it with equal parts flour and water (by weight).  If you’ve followed my instructions for creating and maintaining a sourdough starter and have been feeding it with one cup of unbleached all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup water at a time, yours should be very close to 100% hydration because one cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water are close to the same weight (about 4 oz).

If you’re interested in keeping your starter at 100% hydration and you’d like to be exact, you should start weighing your ingredients when you feed your starter.

Maintaining a Sourdough Starter at 100% Hydration

In order to keep your starter healthy, you should be doubling the amount each time you feed it.  Since you don’t want the starter to take over the kitchen, you need to use or discard a portion of the starter before feeding it.  A good amount of sourdough starter to keep on hand at any one time is 16 ounces (which is about 2 cups by volume).  To feed the starter by weight, measure out 8 ounces of your starter and use or discard the rest.  Feed the 8 ounces of sourdough starter with 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of filtered water (water should be at room temperature or lukewarm – never hot to the touch).  Now you have doubled the amount of starter and you’re keeping it at 100% hydration.  If you need to increase your amount of starter for a recipe, just keep doubling the amount until you have what you need for the recipe (plus extra to keep on hand).  If you’d like to keep a smaller or larger amount on hand, that’s fine, too.  Just remember to always double the amount (by weight) when feeding.

Using Sourdough Starter in Recipes

By keeping your starter at 100% hydration, you know that it is always half water and half flour by weight.  So 8 ounces of 100% hydration sourdough starter is always equal to 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of water.  This makes it fairly easy to use discarded sourdough starter in any recipe that uses flour and liquid, especially quick breads.  For example, If you want to use one cup of sourdough starter in a muffin or quick bread recipe, you just need to remember that you’ll be replacing 4 ounces of flour (about 1 cup by volume) and 4 ounces of liquid (1/2 cup by volume) in the recipe.  Of course it’s not exactly that simple.  Sourdough starter is acidic, so if you want to swap it in without changing any of the leavening amounts, it works best in recipes that would normally have an acidic liquid like buttermilk.  But don’t let any of this scare you.  Experiment and have fun!

One thing to keep in mind is that when using sourdough starter in a quick bread or cake recipe, it’s not necessarily going to make your baked goods taste like sourdough bread.  The “sour” flavor in sourdough bread is developed over the long, slow fermentation times that most of those breads require.  In quick breads, the starter will add an extra bit of flavor and the texture will be a bit different, but it’s usually very subtle.

On to the pumpkin cake.  Since I’m still trying to avoid refined sweeteners as much as I can and because I thought it would be a great flavor combination, I used maple syrup in place of sugar to sweeten this cake.  As cakes go, it’s not especially sweet, but after sampling a few slices Phil and I both decided that it was just sweet enough.  If you’d like to increase the dessert factor of this cake, a smear of cream cheese frosting would be just perfect.

Pumpkin Maple Sourdough Cake
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1/2 cup pumpkin or squash puree (canned or homemade)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fed 100% hydration sourdough starter

3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

heaping 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and move rack to center position. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan (or coat with baking spray).

2. Start with all ingredients at room temperature. In a mixing bowl, whisk together squash puree, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla.

3. Fold sourdough starter into squash mixture until well combined.

4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

5. Add dry ingredients to squash mixture and stir just until incorporated. Stir in melted butter.

6. Pour batter into the greased 8-inch round cake pan.

7. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.


Doughvember Roundup

Now I’d like to share a few of my favorite things I’ve seen around the web so far this Doughvember.

Sourdough Beef Wellington

Linda, my partner in sourdough this month, has created yet another Doughvember masterpiece. She wrapped a seared beef tenderloin with comte cheese and sourdough and then baked the whole thing. She then served the Sourdough-Comte Beef Wellington with Port-Fig Compound Butter.  Head over to Salty Seattle for the recipe and another chance to win a Mavea filtered water pitcher (remember, sourdough starters prefer filtered water).

Sourdough Brioche from Tartine Bread

Sara from Three Clever Sisters decided to combine her loves of sourdough and brioche by making this beautiful Sourdough Brioche using the formula found in Tartine Bread (a book that is on my Christmas wish list).

Framed Sourdough Arrangement

Kerrie from Serves Four has been keeping us updated on her sourdough baking via Instagram and I love this photo arrangement she created that shows her process of baking a gorgeous loaf of sourdough bread.

Cabbage Sourdough Starter

Brandon from Kitchen Konfidence has been writing about his adventures in creating a sourdough starter from scratch using a slightly different method than the one I’ve written about here.  His starter begins with whole wheat flour, water, and a red cabbage leaf.  It might sound strange, but it’s actually a great way to get a sourdough culture started, especially if you’ve had trouble getting one going in the past. The white film that is usually visible on red cabbage (and on grapes) is actually wild yeast.  Check out his progress on Kitchen Konfidence.

Dried Sourdough Starter

And finally, here’s a photo of what I’ve been up to with my sourdough starter lately.  I dried a bunch of it to take with me to the International Food Blogger’s Conference in Santa Monica this weekend.  I powdered it and divided it into 20 packets to hand out to anyone who wants one.  If you’ll be at the conference and are interested in some starter (plus instructions for bringing it back to life), find me!  If you’re interested in dehydrating some of your own starter for long-term storage or for mailing to friends, you can find good instructions at Chocolate & Zucchini.

We have been following and communicating with the growing community of Doughvember bakers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  If you’re talking about sourdough on twitter and/or posting photos of your creations on Instagram this month, please use the hashtag #Doughvember so we can all see what you’re up to.  If you write a blog post this month featuring sourdough, send Linda or I the link (or post it in a comment).  I’ll continue sharing links and photos throughout the month and we’ll hopefully come up with a big Doughvember roundup at the end of the month.

If you’d like to create your own sourdough starter from scratch and play along with us, you can find detailed instructions here.

  1. Sarah

    great giveaway. and my that cake sure looks delicious!

    6:02 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  2. Kim

    Awesome giveaway. I can’t wait to try that cake.

    6:32 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  3. Carol

    Thanks for the sourdough recipes…have the starter ready and waiting. Excited to make some new things!

    6:44 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  4. Stefani

    I’ve never had a sourdough cake before! So curious.. 🙂

    6:47 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  5. Stefani

    I like Pinch My Salt on facebook

    6:47 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  6. Stefani

    I like Mavea on Facebook

    6:48 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  7. Kelly

    Thanks for this recipe – great idea. I would love to win the pitcher too.
    My plan is to go back through your postings about making a sourdough starter over Thanksgiving week when I am off from work. It will be a great time to try it out.
    Take care and thanks!

    6:51 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  8. Linda

    WOW ~ pumpkin and sourdough can’t wait to try it! I already make a sourdough chocolate cake and which receives many praises from young and old a.k.a as grandkids and parents.

    7:13 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  9. Linda

    I liked Pinch My Salt on FB

    7:14 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  10. Linda

    I liked Mavea on FB

    7:15 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  11. Susan

    Mmmm… that cake looks yummy! Never heard of a sourdough cake and am curious about the technique– will definitely try it!

    7:31 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  12. Susan

    Liked Pinch My Salt on facebook!

    7:32 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  13. melissa

    Oh wow! So much information! I’m still working on my starter. I used half pineapple and half orange juice – I didn’t have enough of either one. I’m going to start feeding it twice daily tomorrow!

    8:24 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  14. Jeanne

    I’m excited for Doughvember! I’m always looking for new, inspiring ways to use up my sourdough starter. This cake looks excellent!

    8:34 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  15. Elle Hyson

    Never have eaten a cake made with a sourdough starter but it sounds very interesting.

    8:38 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  16. Elle Hyson

    I like Pinch My Salt on Facebook

    8:38 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  17. hope

    any chance i can get my hands on some of your dehydrated started via maiL? i love this idea!! thanks 🙂

    8:46 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  18. Phillip

    “…after sampling a few slices,” she says. What really happened is she had one, I had a few, and then a couple more. It’s so delicious!

    8:51 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  19. Katie

    This cake looks so moist and delicious! I can’t wait to get my starter!!!

    9:12 pm  Nov 9th, 2011
  20. Steve @ HPD

    okay … i’m a bit of a bakery junkie, always poking my nose into those shops tucked away here and there … but i have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sourdough cake before. am i just looking in the wrong places? cheers!

    6:36 am  Nov 10th, 2011
  21. cindy

    Love anything pumpkin! will have to try this.


    7:12 am  Nov 10th, 2011
  22. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    Thanks for the mention Nicole! This cake looks sooo good by the way 🙂

    8:12 am  Nov 10th, 2011
  23. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    PS. I like Pinch My Salt on Facebook.

    8:12 am  Nov 10th, 2011
  24. Sara

    How informative about adapting for sourdough in recipes. I love the idea of using discard for something, not just trashing it, but never made the mental effort to figure it out. Good pointer to keep in mind re the acidity. Probably requires a little swapping in and out of baking soda for baking powder too.

    8:58 am  Nov 10th, 2011
  25. Steph

    What a GREAT giveaway!! My husband and I have been reviewing (on our own…) different water filtration systems so we can stop buying bottled water, and be assured of the quality of water we are drinking. This would be AWESOME!!

    Not only that, but Jack the goldfish would appreciate the filtered water too…

    9:23 am  Nov 10th, 2011
  26. Ruby

    Wow, this cake looks really really good!

    9:24 am  Nov 10th, 2011
  27. Kristy Lynn @ Gastronomical Sovereignty

    bring on the pumpkin! i don’t care what anyone says – pumpkin’s in season and I. Want. More!

    9:30 am  Nov 10th, 2011
  28. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

    I have made sourdough chocolate cake before that turned out fantastic. I can’t wait to try sourdough pumpkin cake too!

    12:48 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  29. ddemos

    I liked pinch my salt on FB…love this cake and the giveaway!!

    2:15 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  30. ddemos

    liked POS on fb…love the cake~

    2:17 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  31. Michelle

    Love this post! Perfect for Autumn.

    2:44 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  32. Samantha

    Oh thank you for this post!! I have had my sourdough starter for more than 10 years and have made countless loases but I have always wanted to use it for other things. Thank you for the concise and simple formula on how to use it in recipes. I’m very excited..I’ve decided to feed ‘henrietta’ and start experimenting soon. Thanks again!

    3:45 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  33. Julie @BananasForBourbon

    Great post! I know I’ve already bugged you for a lot of that info on facebook already, but it’s all great info! Unfortunately, I’ve been crazy busy and haven’t had a chance to try much of anything yet with my starter. But I’m hoping to try some bread this weekend. And definitely this cake! Sounds fantastic. 🙂

    4:20 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  34. Heather H

    I’ve been making sourdough bread and other goodies for about 5 years now. I can’t wait to try some of your sourdough recipes. Thank you.

    5:44 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  35. LaJuana

    Have been a fan of your site for a while and followed you on Twitter for a while, decided to look you up on FB and you know I “LIKE”‘ you there too now! 🙂

    6:27 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  36. LaJuana

    I now LIKE Maevea too!

    Love the looks of that pitcher, love filtered water but tired of looking at my Britta!

    6:30 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  37. Ally- A Girl & Her Fork

    Wow, that bread looks delicious…perfect for the cold weather that’s kicked in. Can’t wiat to try out the recipe. Mmm,yummy!

    9:39 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  38. Ally- A Girl & Her Fork

    I also like you on FB 😉 How could one not!

    9:40 pm  Nov 10th, 2011
  39. kriswithmany

    We filter all our drinking/cooking water! I wonder how this filter compares to our PUR.

    3:22 pm  Nov 11th, 2011
  40. kriswithmany

    Liked you on Facebook. 🙂

    3:23 pm  Nov 11th, 2011
  41. Danina

    Just getting started with sourdough. Thanks for the ideas.

    7:01 pm  Nov 11th, 2011
  42. Andrea

    I can’t wait to start working with a starter, especially with pumpkin!

    9:27 pm  Nov 11th, 2011
  43. David

    Temptation cake! 🙂

    Never thought of sourdough cake.

    11:49 am  Nov 12th, 2011
  44. Jen

    At what point do you add the melted butter? I’m making this now and realized I have melted butter just hanging out on my counter so I figure I’ll add it with the wet ingredients. Hope that’s right!

    4:34 pm  Nov 12th, 2011
  45. Ilene Mitnick

    Great contest. I’ve never really done anything with a starter, but I’d love to try. The Water Filter Pitcher is fantastic. Thanks for the opportunity to own it!

    6:46 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  46. Jennifer

    Our starter is still going strong! Justin just needs to make some more stuff with it.

    6:51 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  47. Jennifer

    I follow you on FB. 🙂

    6:54 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  48. Mary

    Such a fun site!!! I’ve been looking into pitchers for a while…this one would be so great!!!!

    7:25 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  49. Sarah

    That bread looks delicious!

    7:45 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  50. Sarah

    I liked Pinch My Salt on Facebook

    7:46 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  51. Sarah

    I liked Maeva on facebook.

    7:47 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  52. Heather

    Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    7:57 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  53. malinda cruey

    I really want to win!

    8:28 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  54. Doug

    Great taste!!! Love this recipe. Thanks for posting…..

    8:30 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  55. Carrie Oliver

    Well, as a beef geek/cook and non-baker, I’ve really enjoyed #doughvember so far thanks to you and Linda and Sharon, too. The second attempt at bread was a fail from a presentation perspective but the flavor is actually pretty good. On to the next challenge, Round 3.

    9:02 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  56. Linda

    Love your site! Your recipes are awesome!

    9:13 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  57. Faythe

    I adore baking with sourdough starter. And, I just made some pumpkin puree recently, and this post is perfect timing.

    5:00 pm  Nov 14th, 2011
  58. Mom24@4evermom

    Thanks for the ideas, I’m looking forward to using my starter in other ways.

    7:30 am  Nov 15th, 2011
  59. Andy

    Sourdough is a mainstay for many great recipes.

    6:36 am  Nov 16th, 2011
  60. BrendaLou

    the sourdough starter was so easy to make. I NEVER thought to dehydrate it, but of course that is how a dry starter mix would be done. would love to win the pitcher!

    1:26 pm  Nov 16th, 2011
  61. Kathy

    Sourdough scares me. I like toasting it and slathering it with peanut butter though.

    2:05 pm  Nov 18th, 2011
  62. Kris Myers

    I have been raised on Sourdough, as it is a regular staple in Alaska. but I can honestly say I have never had sourdough cake. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Thank you very much for the post.

    11:37 am  Nov 19th, 2011
  63. Ana @ eggies

    This made such a great desert yesterday for Thanksgiving, thanks for making it available! – Ana

    11:06 am  Nov 25th, 2011
  64. the tasty tRuth

    This cake sounds SO fall-y and delicious! I’m loving Doughvember; thanks for sharing.

    1:33 pm  Nov 28th, 2011
  65. Mrs C

    Oh this is a perfect recipe for the fall! And of course following on FB!! Yum!!! I’ve got a simple recipe for baked cinnamon apple chips!!! Perfect for entertaining! Would love to know what you think!!!


    11:25 am  Nov 29th, 2011
  66. Colette

    I made sourdough sweet potato pancakes after Thanksgiving with the leftover mashed sweet potatoes. They were the best! Thanks for teaching me to make my own sourdough starter! Love it!

    9:18 pm  Nov 29th, 2011
  67. Kausambi@Coloredgrains

    Oh my look at that!!!!!!

    2:54 am  Dec 7th, 2011
  68. Jules

    I <3 Doughvember!! I'm loving all the sour dough info. I was inspired to try it for the first time because of you. I'm shocked at how easy it was to catch a yeast and grow it;) I considered getting a pet but I've had so much fun taking care of my starter I've decided to hold off on the pet and I've been baking bread like a crazy lady!!

    9:52 pm  Dec 7th, 2011
  69. Kelly

    I maintain a sourdough starter, but haven’t done much experimenting with it beyond regular breads and waffles. I will have to start playing some more!

    3:19 am  Dec 9th, 2011
  70. Lynn at Southern Fried French

    Nicole I haven’t visited your site in a while (so many great food blogs, so little time!), so now I see I’ve got to get cooking. Baking especially. So photography is so beautiful that everything is tempting. Off to the kitchen!

    12:32 am  Dec 10th, 2011
  71. Annie

    This Doughvember is something! Please keep up the good work, love the pictures!

    4:01 pm  Dec 11th, 2011
  72. Ryan

    Just about getting cold here in NC. Can’t wait to heat up the house with some baking!!!!!

    8:26 pm  Dec 16th, 2011
  73. Jenny @ Savour the Senses

    All of this sourdough stuff is making me jealous!

    11:57 am  Dec 17th, 2011
  74. UnwittyKitWew

    ?????????? ????????????? ??? ? ????? ?????? ?????????, ??????????? ????????? ? ????????

    12:16 pm  Dec 17th, 2011
  75. Alicia

    Loved this one; we should share this with our crowd of foodies 🙂

    Alicia Weir
    Relationship Manager
    ‘The world’s leading site for Food Jobs and Careers’

    8:12 pm  Dec 27th, 2011
  76. umer

    looks very perfect, and i also like your creativity …

    2:37 am  Feb 22nd, 2012
  77. thelma helms

    The pumpkin maple cake looks great! My husband loves anything pumpkin – throughout the year, not just around autumn. We moved to Florida 3 years ago and the baking here just isn’t the same as home (New York). If you love pumpkin cake, I recommend you check out CrumbCakeCreations for
    New York Style Crumb Cakes. To die for! We order around the holidays and enjoy thoroughly.
    This recipe looks really easy – I’m going to give it a shot and see what the grandkids think!

    2:34 pm  Apr 16th, 2012
  78. Jonell Galloway

    I love the way you discuss sourdough in such a professional way, and what a whopping flavor combination for the cake! I can’t wait to try it as soon as we have pumpkin on the market.

    5:17 am  Aug 1st, 2012
  79. Mitsuko

    I realize this is an old post. But I happened upon this recipe when I had a pumkin craving and went searching for pumkin baked goods. Quick breads just wouldn’t do, and nor would pancakes or lattes. I’ve been harvesting this craving for 30+ years. So I wanted to go all out…And no better way to do such than with cake. I also combined this with another recipe for pumkin coffee cake with strusel topping and maple glaze. So this cake, the other recipe’s topping. It came out well. Just to speak on this cake though, I don’t think it needs a topping. it’s really good on its own. The pumkin and pumkin spice are subtle. And the sourdough is just barely barely there. It was excellent. Next time I will do the strusel and forgo the glaze. And call it coffee cake/breakfast. Haha! Thank you so much for the recipe!

    1:09 pm  Sep 28th, 2016
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