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Sourdough Lemon Cake with Glaze

A sweet and delicious lemon cake made with your discarded sourdough starter.  Perfect as a breakfast, snack, or dessert!

A deliciously sweet and tender cake made with discarded sourdough starter, this sourdough lemon cake is one of the yummiest ways to avoid food waste.


close up view of sliced sourdough lemon pound cake
4.60 from 137 votes

Glazed Sourdough Lemon Cake

Print Recipe
A sweet and delicious lemon cake made with your discarded sourdough starter.  Perfect as a breakfast, snack, or dessert!
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:50 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 10 minutes
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For the Cake

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter discard
  • 3/4 cup milk

For the Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center.  Prepare a loaf pan or 9 x 9 square cake pan with cooking spray.
  • Combine the vegetable oil, eggs, and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until well combined.
    large mixing bowl with oil, eggs, sugar
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and add to the sugar mixture 1/3 at a time, alternating with the milk and the sourdough starter.  Mix on low until just combined.  Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest by hand.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
    finished cake batter in mixing bowl
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes (for the loaf pan) or 40-50 minutes (for the square pan) until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Place on a wire rack.  And allow to cool about 15 minutes in the pan.
    brown, baked cake

Make The Glaze

  • In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice for the glaze.  Pour over the still-warm cake.
    thick lemon glaze with zest
  •  After the glaze has soaked in and hardened, remove cake from pan and allow to finish cooling on wire rack.  Slice and serve once cool.
    wire rack with glazed cake


Having trouble with your cake sinking?  Try adding a teaspoon of baking soda along with the powder.  Cakes can also sink if they are underbaked: this recipe looks very browned before it bakes through.
Can be frozen if allowed to cool completely and then wrapped tightly.  Glaze after it’s defrosted.
Be sure to try cinnamon sugar blueberry sourdough muffins if you love this cake!


Calories: 242kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 259mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 64IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sourdough breakfast recipe, sourdough discard recipes, sourdough lemon cake, sourdough quick bread
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 242kcal
Author: Katie Shaw
Did you make this recipe?If you loved it, please leave a review!

Some of the best sourdough discard recipes are breakfast recipes, because sourdough bakers typically discard and feed their starter in the morning. And this lemon cake makes the perfect breast (or snack! or dessert!) that the whole family will love.

There’s no sour taste, just a bright lemon flavor and plenty of sweetness and tartness from the glaze.

The ingredients you’ll need

For the cake

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (optional, for a more “quick bread” texture vs cake)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter, discard
  • 3/4 cup milk

For the glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Step by step sourdough lemon cake

Making the batter

This recipe is easy as can be. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 with the rack in center.

Prepare your pan with non stick cooking spray. I like to use a loaf pan so it feels acceptable to serve this lemon cake as a breakfast. But a square cake pan works very well too!

Combine the oil, sugar, and eggs, in a bowl with an electric mixer. It will just take a minute.

In a separate bowl, mix up the dry ingredients. Add them to the sugar mixture 1/3 at a time. So add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then stir in the milk. Add another third, stir in the sourdough starter. Add the last third and gently stir.

Finally, mix in the lemon juice and zest by hand. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top will crack. If you’re using a square cake pan, it will be done in 40-50 minutes.

Making and pouring the glaze

Set the cake, still in its pan, onto a cooling rack and let it cool for about 15 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, let’s mix up the glaze. It will all fit in just a small bowl.

Mix up 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2 teaspoon of lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Pour it over the slightly cooled cake while it’s still in the pan. After a few more minutes, the glaze will cool and harden. At this point, remove the cake and let it finish cooling on a cooling rack.

When completely cool, slice and serve!

You can always double this recipe and freeze one. Make sure it is fully cooled before you freeze it. Make the lemon glaze after its defrosted.

To prevent sinking

A few readers have noted that their lemon cake has collapsed after baking. Since receiving that feedback I’ve added some baking soda to the recipe to help leaven it further.

The baking soda is optional and will produce a lighter cake. I prefer it with only baking powder because it is a denser, more pound cake like texture.

The two most common causes of this are an underdone cake or inactive baking powder/ baking soda.Make sure your cake is fully baked before baking by using a cake tester and remember that baking powder and baking soda should be replaced every 6 months.

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151 thoughts on “Sourdough Lemon Cake with Glaze”

  1. 5 stars
    I made this a while ago and it was a huge hit. I’d like to make it again. Do you think it can be made into a bundt cake?

  2. 5 stars
    I have been meaning to make this for months and finally did! It was delicious and I’m bummed I waited so long to make it. It’s moist and dense and not overly sweet. I’m going to make it again next week and double it to put one in the freezer!

  3. Delicious! I substituted buttermilk for the milk and doubled the lemon juice & zest. I did not add baking soda. A perfect, dense pound cake. I will definitely make this recipe again. Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made this twice and it’s come out perfect each time. I use coconut sugar and I use a very sweet EVOO that you can bake with. I also added the tsp. of baking soda as suggested. I’m diabetic the use of coconut sugar and Anna Flour make this a nice treat that barely messes with my levels. But only one slice a day!

  5. 5 stars
    Just made this today. I prefer muffins, so I baked 16 muffins at 25-30 minutes. They turned out great, really delicious! Thanks for the recipe to use up sourdough discard!

  6. Thanks for this recipe. Mine is still in the oven but is behaving strangely. Can you share what size loaf pan you used? I think that may be my issue.

  7. 4 stars
    I made this yesterday & it turned out great! I used honey instead of sugar, coconut oil, and added cinnamon + nutmeg. I mixed it all together & still turned out very well. The crumb was fairly dense, similar to pound cake, but that’s probably because I didn’t use granulated sugar / baking soda. I might also try cake flour next time for a more fluffy texture.

  8. 5 stars
    Great recipe!! The only changes I would make next time is more lemon juice and zest in the cake. I couldn’t pick up on the lemon flavor. The glaze was perfection. Mine did fall (right before my eyes), but it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. Turns out my baking powder was expired. I’m having so much fun with my sourdough starter. Thanks for the great recipe!!


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