This moist and delicious cake is great plain, but an excellent excuse for frosting as well. My top recommendation is the secretly healthy/paleo/vegan chocolate avocado icing (which also doubles as an amazing chocolate mousse - you should try this) detailed below, or you could make a buttercream or coconut cream icing. I have been speculating about whether I could cream together honey, butter and shredded coconut to make a frosting. Ideas welcome!

This recipe is based on the Basic Chocolate Cake (Sourdough) from the Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS (Wardee Harmon), which has all kinds of interesting classes you can take online, if you are interested.

  • 1 cup active sourdough starter (fed within the past 8-14 hours, bubbling, not deflated)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or milk or milk-substitute)
  • 1 3/4 cups flour (white, or a relatively light alternative, such as spelt - whole wheat would be heavy)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar (or other dry sweetener, such as evaporated cane juice)
  • 1 cup butter or coconut oil (or a combination), just barely melted*
  • 2 teaspoons (or so) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (try to find non-alkali processed- I love Rapunzel brand)
  • 2 large eggs
  • optional ingredients (ideas for playing with flavor):
    • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee or coffee alternative
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract or orange flavor
  • Combine the starter, buttermilk, and flour in a mixing bowl until smooth.
  • Cover and let rest at room temperature for 8 hours.
  • Optionally, move to the refrigerator at this point, until you are ready to bake. Or, you can put it in the fridge straight away, and then take it out to ferment later. Mixture will need to come back to room temperature before proceeding.
Once the mixture has fermented
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Grease one 9" x 13" cake pan, or two 8" to 9" square or circular cake pans, and set aside.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine and beat together the sugar, softened butter/coconut oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder, and any optional flavorings.
  • Add the eggs to the mixture, and beat again.
  • Combine the sourdough mixture with the chocolate mixture, mixing gently until smooth.
  • Pour into prepared pan(s).
  • Bake for 30 to 45 minutes (I baked for 43 minutes), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
  • Remove from oven and set on a rack to cool.

*If you use a combination of butter and coconut oil, be careful if you melt them together - don’t put them in the microwave together, or the coconut oil may boil up through the butter and explode!

I am wondering if this would work in a bundt pan. If anyone tries it, please let me know!

For frosting, I enthusiastically advocate Secret Avocado Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate mini chips (optional)
  • Place avocado flesh, cocoa and maple syrup in a food processor and mix together, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice. (You can also do this by hand - it just won’t be quite as smooth.)
  • Stir in the chocolate chips (if using).
  • Spread the frosting immediately, or firm it up in the fridge if you prefer, or are making it ahead
If you think your frosting is too thick, you can add a few drops of water. This recipe makes enough frosting for one single layer cake.

The GNOWFGLINS recipe includes this chocolate coconut cream frosting recipe. This is enough to frost the top of one large cake. Double it if you are going for a layer cake.
  • 3/4 cup coconut cream (the cream part of a can of whole coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Combine all frosting ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Chill before using.