Sourdough Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star – no this post is not about a famous children’s song but  is a special tribute post to remember Selma @ Selma’s Table, a special blogging friend from the UK who passed away recently. Many did not know of her struggle, including me, as she maintained her  friendly, outgoing,  caring and thoughtful personality. She continued to support so many and her comments were always lengthy, full of praise, advice or just simply chatting.

I met Selma through Fiesta Friday (just finished its 76th week). I was there from the beginning with Angie, Fiesta Friday #1, and many others. I know Selma has been a big part of Fiesta Friday for a long time but I don’t recall if she was there for the first party. Thanks to the four hosts for organizing and implementing this tribute; Angie, Elaine, Jhuls and Sue, four of her very good friends.

A story that I want to share about  Selma is her generosity in sharing part of her Twinkle sourdough starter. Earlier this year I mentioned in a comment to Selma that I had let my sourdough starter go bad and she right away offered to send me some of hers in a dried form.  I did not even have to ask – Selma just jumped at the opportunity to share. Sure, I could have bought some starter locally in the US but come on, a starter from England – how exciting! You bet I wanted some! Right after it arrived I was off on my own sourdough baking experiences.

I have had many starters over the years, made a few loaves of bread, but eventually let the starter go. Gene loved sourdough bread more than any other kind of bread and the “sourer” the better. Selma’s Twinkle’s daughter Rosebud has a permanent place in my refrigerator where I continue to feed and use her to make delicious recipes for my family.

Below is the dried form of a small part of Selma’s starter Twinkle. When I made my own sourdough starter it became a daughter of Twinkle and I named her Rosebud, or the beginning of something beautiful.

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A few things I made with my sourdough starter…

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Below are pictures of my starter, Rosebud, for this recipe. I had just fed her last week so she was ready to make something new.

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Because this starter was so special to me and I had almost a week to think about what I wanted to post I decided on a dessert – just for something different to share.

Did you ever think about using a sourdough starter  in a dessert? I know I sure did not until I ran across this King Arthur Flour recipe (reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, September, 1991 issue)  which I have adapted with a few changes and a different cream cheese frosting.  They added nuts and ginger to their frosting and I wanted more of a simple smooth look and let the cake itself be the “star”.

There are lots of versions of carrot cake and this one appealed to me because of the addition of a sourdough starter. I am always looking for new and fun ways to incorporate Rosebud in a recipe. It adds a little tang and special flavor that no other recipe would have. I know Selma would be intrigued by this recipe as  she mainly baked breads and crackers with her sourdough starter. Selma might laugh a little but be very complimentary and probably want to try the recipe too!

Here’s to you Selma – I will always have a little part of you and remember your kindness and friendship every time I use my Rosebud, daughter of Twinkle.

Sourdough Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sourdough starter, right from the fridge, unfed (I just fed mine a week ago and it was good and bubbly and perfect to make this recipe)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut, shredded (I used sweet)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Combine the oil and sugar and stir in the sourdough starter.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in the crushed pineapple, carrots, walnuts, coconut and vanilla. Use a fine grater for the carrots as they release more moisture and sweetness as they bake. It will also help to spread them throughout the batter.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just to combine.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes or until cake tests done with a cake tester. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before frosting.


  • 3 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. lemon oil (not extract)
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • about 1 tbsp. milk, enough to make a spreadable icing (I needed a recipe and a half to frost this cake)

Combine the first four ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Add the sugar slowly and beat until incorporated. Add the milk a little at a time until you reach a smooth and spreadable consistency.

Frost your cake and add carrot garnishes made with royal icing (as in my pictures) fondant or even chocolate. How about candied carrot curls or candied carrot coins.

Carrot Coins:

  • 2 medium sized carrots, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, plus more

Bring the carrots, 2 tbsp. sugar and 1/4 cup water to simmer in a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring to separate the carrots. Cook until soft for about 5 minutes. Increase heat and cook, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a thick syrup. Add a few pinches of sugar, tossing constantly. Cook until the carrots are coated. Remove to a parchment lined baking sheet and let cool. Toss with more sugar to coat. Scatter across the top of the frosting.

See also Carrot Cake for Two for carrot curl recipes.

Recipe by cooking with aunt juju…heese-frosting/

Another delicious frosting by the Barefoot Contessa:


  • 12 oz. Italian mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup crystallized ginger (not in syrup)
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Beat the first five ingredients together for about 1 minute or until light and fluffy in a bowl with a paddle attachment. Add the ginger and salt and beat for 30 seconds more.

Recipe by cooking with aunt juju

See also Carrot Cake For Two.

Adding Rosebud to the batter; stirring in the finely shredded carrots; the baked cake and the finale!

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48 thoughts on “Sourdough Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. This whole darn post just makes me happy . . . the color orange, “. . . . Rosebud, daughter of Twinkle . . .” The photos of your pancakes and other twinkle progeny. Thank so much for joining us at this tribute!


  2. I did know Selma, I only saw some of her recipes on Tasty where I post my 1,097+ recipes. I came across a few of hers. Although, we never communicated it is a loss to the food blogging community. Thank you for sharing your story about Selma and may she rest in peace knowing a part of her will remain with all of us through blogging and your homage to her! Nice Judi you are very kind and I am happy we connected last year! Cheryl


    • Hey Cheryl – thanks so much. I love to use my “Rosebud” in recipes and this cake was a big hit! Selma was definitely a special blogging friend. What’s the name of your food blog? I wondered if you had another site, Never heard of Tasty Kitchen but will check it out. Have a great day and I am glad we got together too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is Tasty run by Ree Drummond AKA “The Pioneer Woman” on Food Network-she has had the blog 6 years (TK) and her TV show 4th season. I am a member and contribute my own original recipes-It is a community recipe-sharing Web Site. You do not have to submit recipes to join free (and become a member) many who join look for recipes to cook or for inspiration in new foods to prepare. It’s like a giant on-line cookbook with thousands of recipes to peruse. The people are warm, friendly it is user friendly and I love it. Same logo as word press C.L. (Cheryl) “Cheffie Cooks” Wiser. My other word press sites are on my word press gravatar. Busy woman and Mom, wife, sister, Aunt the whole 9 yards Ha!Ha!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely post, and an amazing cake, how interesting using the starter in a cake, I’m sure Selma would definitely be intrigued!! I had never even tried sourdough bread before Selma sent me some of Twinkle, and likewise, my son now loves it and the sourer the better! What a gift she has given us, amongst so many she has shared through her friendship xx


  4. I just LOVE this! I wanna make it! I know Selma would have been beyond intrigued. So, when you start from the dry flakes, how long do you have to wait? Maybe I should just read your other posts.


  5. Selma was indeed a very awesome woman and loved to share whatever she can. She wi be missed by so many. Using sourdough starter in a cake is brilliant – I haven’t heard of it before. Great work for Selma’s Tribute, Aunt Juju. Thanks for joining us during this day of sadness. x


  6. Such a generous spirit to celebrate with your recipes. I bookmarked this for a friend who is a wonderful baker and has been working with sourdough. The photos are wonderful.


  7. Wow Judi, Selma would definitely have approved of this sourdough carrot cake. I had never heard of using sourdough in a cake either. She too had offered to send me a starter, but I declined as I thought it too tempting ( I try to stay away from carbs, try being the operative word here)…but how I wish I had tried it out. The cake looks beautifully moist, I’m sure it was a great hit. A beautiful tribute to our dear friend Selma, may her spirit live on in each and everyone of us.


    • Thanks Loretta – the cake was delicious especially with the frosting on top! I have been making sourdough bread on and off for many years and always letting the starter go bad. One thing good is you do not have to bake bread all of the time, you just need to feed it to keep it bubbly. You can bet I will not let Rosebud go bad.


  8. The cake looks amazing, I can almost taste the flavours. I have actually never made a carrot cake but this looks so unusual and delicious. A lovely tribute to the lovely Selma!


    • Thanks Petra – this was the first time I used my starter in this cake and it was very, very good. No obvious sourdough flavor but it may have contributed to the moistness and density of the cake. It sure had to add something!


  9. A lovely post Judi! I bet it’s wonderful to know you’re always gonna have a part of Selma with you with that starter, she was always so generous with it!
    The cake sounds wonderful, I’ve wanted to use a sourdough starter to make donuts for ages but never though of cake!


    • Thanks Michelle – this was a lot of fun to make. I had been thinking about trying something different and then having this carrot cake turn out so good. I will make it again as i frequently have to feed Rosebud and discard some of the starter and add new flour and water. I would love to see your sourdough donuts – they have to be delicious too! I want to experiment with citric salt as that is supposed to add some real tang.


  10. Beautiful post for Selma and such a sweet starter story Judi! Also I love your cake recipe with Selma’s sourdough starter. Looks delicious and with such cute little carrots on top! It’s all so lovely…


  11. Pingback: rosemary forest cake (rosemary, black cherry and coffee cake) | ten.times.tea

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