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Best Sourdough Carrot Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 25 reviews
  • Author: Emilie Raffa
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 40-50 minutes
  • Total Time: 55-65 minutes
  • Yield: (1x) 9 x 13-inch cake
  • Category: Sourdough Recipes
  • Method: Baking


Adapted from Ina Garten’s classic carrot cake, this version gets a quick upgrade with leftover sourdough discard and fragrant chai spice. I grate the carrots in advance, skip the walnuts and raisins, and bake the cake one day before serving.


For the Cake

Note: Ina’s original recipe calls for mild flavored vegetable oil (not olive oil), 2 tsp group cinnamon (not chai spice), and it does not contain any sourdough starter. I like the flavor of olive oil and you can skip the sourdough starter if you don’t have any.

For the cake

  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups (320 ml) olive oil 
  • 3 extra-large eggs (70 g each), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) leftover sourdough starter (see note)
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 tsp chai spice
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt 
  • 3 cups (300 g) grated carrots, about 1 lb carrots
  • 1 level tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/21 cup (75 g150 g) raisins (optional)
  • 1/21 cup (60 g -120 g) chopped walnuts (optional)

For the frosting

  • 8 oz (226 g) mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 8 oz (226 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • fat pinch of fine sea salt

To decorate


For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. 
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (a hand held mixer works too), combine the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes until light yellow and slightly thickened. This will give the cake a little lift. 
  3. Add the sourdough starter; mix to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture; mix on low speed.
  5. Wash, peel, and grate the carrots with a box grater (this can be done 1 day in advance, covered and chilled until ready to use). Combine the carrots with 1 tablespoon of flour; mix well. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Add the carrots to the batter and fold in with a rubber spatula.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. At this point, you can cover and chill overnight. Or for a same-day bake, jump to the next step.
  7. Bake the cake on the center rack for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  8. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting the cake. 
  9. For the Frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the softened mascarpone and cream cheese. Sift the powdered sugar directly over the bowl. Add the salt. Mix on medium-low speed until wonderfully light and creamy. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  10. To serve: decorate with pastel chocolate eggs, if using. Cut into square and enjoy!


For best results, use a 100% hydration starter, fed with equal parts flour and water by weight. Its batter-like texture is the perfect match for this carrot cake. If you’re using a thicker, low hydration starter the texture of the cake will be too dry.