Moist Sourdough Vanilla Cake Recipe With Discard

This sourdough vanilla cake recipe is moist, sweet, and buttery! Pair it with buttercream frosting and you’ll have a match made in heaven. This is the perfect sourdough recipe to use up all that excess discard!

homemade sourdough vanilla cake on a wooden cake stand. Someone is taking a slice.

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You’ll Love This Recipe Because:

  • Ultra moist and delicious recipe
  • Perfect amount of sweetness
  • The vanilla flavor is exquisite
  • Easy cake recipe
  • Completely from scratch! Great way to brag to your friends

I was never a big fan of vanilla cake growing up. The cakes I would eat as a child were dry and left me unsatisfied. However, this sourdough cake recipe is MUCH MORE than that! It is ultra-moist with the perfect amount of sweetness. The vanilla flavor is so distinct that it’s jumping right at me and slapping me in the face (in a good way, of course). 

If I had this sourdough cake as a child, then vanilla would have been my favorite cake flavor. As an adult, I can say that this cake recipe has changed my preferences!

Are you a certified chocolate lover? Check out my sourdough chocolate cake recipe. (It’s seriously so rich you’ll think it has a trust fund).

Key Ingredients For Sourdough Vanilla Cake

This cake batter calls for only 11 ingredients, which are easy to find. You can buy them at your local grocery store since they’re so common. 

Ingredients on a table: flour, salt, sugar, sourdough discard, vanilla extract, butter, eggwhites, baking soda, and baking powder.
  • Sourdough Discard: Use that extra sourdough discard instead of a recently fed active sourdough starter. The discard is easier to mix than the active starter. I recommend making your own starter from scratch if you don’t have one.
  • All-Purpose Flour: No need to buy cake flour! All-purpose flour works well in this recipe. The resulting cake is ultra-moist.
  • Egg Whites: Egg whites only! The egg whites give structure to the cake while not weighing it down. 
  • Sour Cream: Lightens and moistens the cake. It seriously adds a ton of moisture to the crumb. Plus, it adds a slight tang that goes hand in hand with the sourdough.
  • Softened Butter: Butter needs to be room temperature and softened! We will be creaming the butter and white sugar together.
  • Whole Milk: Whole milk is strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. Since we are not using egg yolks, the cake gets most of its fat from the sour cream and whole milk.

Tools You May Need:

  • 9-inch Cake Pans: I use stainless steel springform cake pans. They’re GREAT! No, you don’t need springform cake pans. However, I have a strong preference for those over regular cake pans.
  • Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer: Either electric mixer will work for this cake recipe. I recommend having one of these mixers since we will be beating butter. However, you can mix entirely by hand (but it might take some serious elbow grease).

How To Make Sourdough Vanilla Cake

a slice of sourdough cake on a plate.

Here we go! Instructions on how to make this delicious sourdough cake. Okay, don’t be scared. Sure, it is a two-layer cake and you MIGHT be intimidated. However, it’s pretty basic and I am confident that you can make this!

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. This ensures that the ingredients are evenly distributed once we mix them with the wet ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter on high for two minutes with a hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or by hand for those who want to use elbow grease). Then, add the sugar and beat on medium speed. Creaming the butter and sugar together will help achieve a good rise.
  3. Add the rest of the wet ingredients then beat.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Remember, do not overmix the cake batter! Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake.

Sourdough Cake Success Tips

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients: This is key to a perfect cake. If the ingredients are cold, you will struggle to mix them. This leads to an inconsistent cake batter and a longer bake time in the oven. Both are bad news!
  2. Sourdough Starter Discard: I highly recommend using discard for this recipe over a recently fed sourdough starter. The discard had a more liquid consistency, which made the batter easier to mix. 
  3. Sour Cream: Ah, sour cream in cake! This is my SECRET weapon in producing an ultra-moist cake. The taste also compliments the sourdough discard.
  4. Do Not Overmix: Overmixing the batter will lead to gluten formation, making the cake tough and chewy. Once the batter is evenly combined, stop mixing.
  5. Let Cool Before Frosting: Do NOT attempt to frost the cake before it cools down! The frosting will melt and you will have a tough time assembling the cake. Let the cake cool completely.

Tips to Assemble The Sourdough Layer Cake

Someone taking a bite of a slice of cake

Yes, this is a two-layer cake but don’t be scared! It’s pretty easy to assemble! You can use any frosting you want. However, I recommend using my vanilla buttercream frosting recipe. 

Assembly and frosting are easy. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Take the cakes out of the pan once they are at room temperature. Wrap them in plastic wrap. This ensures that they stay moist. Then, cool the cakes in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
  2. Make the homemade buttercream frosting. The frosting should be at room temperature.
  3. Apply a crumb coat then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This will harden the frosting and make it easier to apply the final frosting coat!
  4. Apply the final frosting coat. Use LOTS of frosting when applying the final coat.

Applying the final frosting coat is easy! I used this video tutorial by Chelsweet. 

How To Store This Moist Cake

Unfrosted cake? Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. They can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. 

Frosted cake? Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. You will need to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. 

Make Sourdough Cupcakes

cupcakes on a cooling rack. someone is holding a cupcake and took a bite out of it.

I recommend following my sourdough vanilla cupcake recipe. After all, this recipe was adapted from my popular vanilla cupcake recipe. 

However, you can use this recipe to make tender cupcakes. You will need a cupcake tin and cupcake liners. Fill the cupcake liners two-thirds of the way full and bake for 18 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes are springy to the touch.  

Other Sourdough Discard Recipes You’ll Love:

Moist Sourdough Vanilla Cupcakes

Decadent Sourdough Chocolate Cupcakes

Ultra Moist Sourdough Chocolate Cake

5 from 1 vote

Moist Sourdough Vanilla Cake Recipe With Discard

This sourdough vanilla cake recipe is moist, sweet, and buttery! Pair it with buttercream frosting and you'll have a match made in heaven. This is the perfect sourdough recipe to use up all that excess discard!
Xena Kai
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 26 minutes
Frosting Time 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 46 minutes
Servings: 1 Cake

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Sourdough Vanilla Cake

  • 1 ¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ Cups Butter unsalted room temperature
  • 1 ¾ Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 5 Egg Whites large
  • ½ Cup Sour Cream room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • Cup Whole Milk room temperature
  • ½ Cup Sourdough Discard 144 grams

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 Cups Unsalted Butter room temperature (6 sticks)
  • 6 ½ Cups Powdered Sugar 780 grams
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt


Sourdough Vanilla Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9" cake pans with butter (or oil spray), and line them with round parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • With a hand mixer and whisk attachment (or stand mixer), beat the butter on high in a large bowl for two minutes. The butter should be soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat on high for an additional two minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the egg whites, sour cream, vanilla extract, milk, and sourdough discard. Whisk on medium for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the dry ingredients and whisk on low until just incorporated. Do not overmix! You can whisk by hand or use a silicone spatula to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the two cake pans. Bake on the middle rack for 24-26 minutes until done. To check if the cakes are done, insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake. The tookpick should come out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool in their pans completely. The cakes need to be cool before decorating.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • Place the room temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed for one to two minutes.
  • Add the powdered sugar in batches. Then, add salt, heavy cream and pure vanilla extract. Mix until fluffy.
  • Transfer the frosting into a piping bag or use a spatula to decorate the cake layers.


  • Cake Assembly Tips: It is easier to assemble cake when the cakes are cold. Take the cakes out of the pans once they have cooled down. Then, wrap each cake in plastic wrap. Freeze or refrigerate for at least one hour.

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