Sourdough Lemon Cake with Glaze

A sweet and delicious lemon cake made with your discarded sourdough starter.  Perfect as a breakfast, snack, or dessert!
4.66 from 52 votes

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
4.66 from 52 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 mins
Cook Time:50 mins
Total Time:1 hr 10 mins
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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?Tag me @heartscontentfarmhouse so I can see!

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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Click here to subscribe By on April 11th, 2020

130 thoughts on “Sourdough Lemon Cake with Glaze”

  1. 5 stars
    Was a bit skeptical having never made a cake using sourdough discard, but very pleasantly surprised at the outcome. No weird flavours, just a really super lemony cake. Great, thank you.

  2. I tried this in a 9×9 glass pan, and it turned out great! I did add extra lemon juice and extra lemon zest since I’d read several comments that suggested that. It’s light and just a little sweet, with a nice lemony flavor. Thanks so much for sharing – delicious!

  3. 5 stars
    This turned out so well and was just delicious! I live at high altitude and baking can be a real challenge here because things tend to rise very quickly at first and then sink in the middle. The sourdough really seemed to help. I did use brand-new baking powder (cut it back just a bit), made sure the eggs were at room temperature and skipped the soda. I think the basic recipe would lend itself well to some nice variations, too.

  4. 3 stars
    The bread/cake (I did not use baking soda) was moist and had a nice crumb but it was not lemony enough for me. I think it needs lots more lemon zest and juice to give it more flavor.
    I should have read the reviews first. I will make it again but I’ll definitely add more lemon and sugar to the batter.

    • Hi aud! Yes the glaze is totally essential for the sweetness and lemon flavor! Did you eat it plain? If so, you’ll absolutely want to increase the sugar and lemon as you said. 🙂

  5. I made this with both the baking powder and soda, in a loaf pan. My daughter gave me a sourdough starter for Mother’s Day and while baking sourdough bread is a beat down I don’t care to do again, I have found that I absolutely love playing with the discard. I’ve made crackers and all kinds of other things, but this lemon cake is my absolute favorite.

  6. Hi, just put the pan in the oven. I have a feeling it’s going to be spectacular! I’d id not have lemon, so I sub orange juice and orang jest! Can’t wait until it’s done.

  7. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! Have made it two times already and it is a perfect dessert/snack and easy to make. I used melted butter instead of the oil. Whole family thinks it’s great. It’s worth having a starter just for this.

  8. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cake/bread a few times now and each time it’s pronounced as “stupid good” which is the highest compliment you can get around here. Seriously. Simple and delicious to the nth degree! Thanks for a great recipe. We have it in our regular rotation.

  9. 5 stars
    Great way to use the sourdough discard! I have used yoghurt instead of milk, and added more lemon zest and lemon juice to the whole recipe and it turned out delicious!

  10. 5 stars
    I made this recipe this morning with sourdough starter discard straight from the fridge, plus the optional baking soda, and it turned out absolutely beautifully and was very easy. I subbed half and half for milk since that was all I had, and added a little homemade lavender simple syrup (the flavor didn’t really come through, so I think next time I might try a little lavender extract instead). I also put very thinly sliced lemon slices and a couple sprigs of lavender on top, in lieu of the glaze – the lemon flavor was therefore very mild, but still delicious. The crumb of the cake was so lovely. Will definitely make this again, probably upping both the lemon and lavender flavors.

  11. 5 stars
    Delicious way to use up sourdough discard! Very quick and easy and I had terrific results. Will definitely make this again. Toying around with throwing some blueberries into it for a lemon blueberry flavor.

  12. 5 stars
    I removed the soda and used a bit over the half cup of sugar. This was delicious, light, moist and fluffy. Everyone that tasted it was so impressed.

    • I have made it vegan with flax eggs and plant milk and it totally worked.
      I also blended a whole lemon that was given me by an italian fresh from Italy, the lemon added a little too much liquid and I had to cook it it longer but the flavour was amazing. I upped the lemon juice content in the glaze also. Going to make it again this weekend.

  13. 5 stars
    This turned out beautifully, so light with a hint of lemon. Used applesauce in place of oil. Made in cake pan, cut into fourths to freeze to enjoy later. Thank you for sharing. I’ll definitely make again.

  14. 4 stars
    Light fluffy and delicious. Made a double batch
    12 muffins, 4 small bundt, 1 loaf.
    Lemon was doubled.
    Coconut cream cheese glaze on half
    Lemon poppy seed glaze on half
    Excellent recipe would definitely make again

  15. 4 stars
    This was delicious! Easy to make and it turned out gorgeous. However, for a lemon cake I expected a lot more lemon flavor in the cake itself. The glaze tasted like lemonade, but the cake neither smelled nor tasted like lemon. I didn’t really expect it to, with only one teaspoon each of lemon juice and lemon zest for a whole loaf! If you want the cake to taste really lemony, increase both zest and juice to at least 3 teaspoons, maybe 4. (and possibly reduce the milk by a few teaspoons) I used the zest and juice of one lemon for the recipe as written, so two should be enough to really get good lemon flavor.

    The crumb of the cake was delightful, and overall it tasted a bit like a lightly lemon-flavored doughnut in bread form.

  16. I’m looking forward to making this but I’m writing to thank you for having a no nonsense food site. I’m often overwhelmed by how much people write before they get to the food part and we’re all here for the food (not your wonderful aunt Shirley who I’m sure is just a lovely lady indeed). I’m all about getting right to the point. I’m enjoying reading all of your recipes. That’s what I truly want to read. Sorry aunt Shirley.


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