Easy + Delicious Glazed Sourdough Lemon Cake

One of the most popular sourdough discard recipes on the internet, you will love this Sourdough Lemon Cake.

Somewhere between a dessert and a quick bread, this cake perfectly balances the tangy lemon and the glaze’s sweetness. This is perfect for that discarded sourdough starter, transforming it into a moist and flavorful cake, ideal for any time of day.

close up view of sliced sourdough lemon pound cake

Glazed Sourdough Lemon Cake

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
Serving Size 12 slices

Ingredients 

For the Cake

  • ½ cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • cups flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup sourdough starter discard
  • ¾ cup milk

For the Glaze

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Instructions 

  • Prep. 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.
  • Wet ingredients. 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
  • Dry ingredients and milk. 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 and cool. 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.  Allow to cool for 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

Notes

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!
sourdough lemon cake with glaze, sliced on board.

Deliciously sweet and tender, this recipe is one of the yummiest ways to avoid food waste.

Key Ingredients + Tools

Discarded sourdough starter. This gives the cake its unique texture and depth. It can be straight from the fridge!

Fresh lemon. Don’t substitute bottled! You really want the brightness and freshness fresh lemon juice and zest.

oil, milk, lemons, starter, flour, sugar, on wooden board

Electric Mixer: Ensures your wet ingredients are thoroughly combined. (Not totally essential, but nice to have!)

Two Separate Mixing Bowls: One for wet ingredients and another for dry to make the combination process smooth.

Loaf Pan or Square Cake Pan: Depending on your preference, ensure it’s well-coated with cooking spray for easy removal.

Wire Rack: Allows the cake to cool properly and makes the glazing process neat and efficient.

 Boston International Ceramic Nesting Prep Bowls, 3 Sizes, Painterly Lemons Original Heart Bread Loaf Pan Stoneware Loaf Pan, Green Meatloaf Pan, Loaf Pans For Baking Bread, Nonstick Bread Pans, Retangular Bread Baking Pan for Kitchen Lemon Zester Grater, Citrus Zester Grater with Handle, Kitchen Gadgets for Cheese, Lemon, Chocolate, Nutmeg, Ginger, Fruit, Vegetable, Stainless Steel Micro Cheese Grate, Dishwasher Safe(Narrow)

 

Everything else is just basic pantry ingredients. 😊

Tips for the best sourdough cake

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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Storage + Make Ahead

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

Leftovers? Slice it up and wrap individual slices. Defrost on the counter or briefly in the microwave. It will still be delicious.

Want more sourdough cake recipes?

Easy + Delicious Glazed Sourdough Lemon Cake

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Recipe Rating




196 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    For some reason it won’t let me click 5 stars but this recipe is amazing!!! I made it for a group I’m a part of and it was a huge hit!

  2. 5 stars
    Beautiful, delicious, quick, simple. Perfect for my Sunday School class snack with coffee.
    My husband enjoyed it as well.

  3. 5 stars
    I have made this twice now and it is perfect. My husband loves it for breakfast. I’m at high altitude so i add ~roughly an extra 1/4c of flour, which may or may not be necessary, but find it works really nicely for me. I have a feeling this will be a monthly request to make from the husband…:)

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made twice and it’s gone within a day! Perfect desert serve that’s not too sweet. I added more lemon juice for extra flavor but an easy quick recipe