Old-Fashioned Sourdough Cake Recipe

Don’t think for a second sourdough is only for bread! This sourdough cake has a warm flavor thanks to the nutmeg.

| May 2019

Photo by Adobe Stock 

As with sourdough cookies, sourdough cake was a natural development as pioneer women experimented with ingredients. Every early cook had to be creative and resourceful.


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 11/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup applesauce or raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking soda plus hot water
  • 3 cups sourdough starter

Photo by Adobe Stock


  1. Cream shortening and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, applesauce or raisins, and nutmeg.
  3. Dissolve soda in a little hot water.
  4. With a wooden spoon or spatula, add sourdough slowly.
  5. Add soda/water and mix gently.
  6. Spread into a lightly buttered and floured square baking dish.
  7. Bake 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Serves 8

More from Sourdough Biscuits and Pioneer Pies: The Old West Baking Book:

sourdough-biscuits-pioneer-piesHow did pioneers in the Old West do it? Living in the Old West required not only stamina, but innovation. Imagine putting a cake together without fresh supplies, measuring spoons, or a dedicated work area; imagine baking that cake without a thermometer, steady heat, or a timer. Sourdough Biscuits and Pioneer Pies: The Old West Baking Book shares the baking secrets of Native American ranch house cooks, chuck wagon chefs, and wagon train homemakers, with over a hundred Old West recipes — updated and kitchen tested. Classic dutch-oven and cast-iron techniques are also included. Laced among classic baked goods recipes such as Sourdough Biscuits, Apple Brown Betty, and Concord Grape Pie are dozens of anecdotes and fun facts on how our ancestors were so successful with so little.

Reprinted with permission from Sourdough Biscuits and Pioneer Pies: The Old West Baking Book by Gail L. Jenner and published by TwoDot, 2017.



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