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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
4.58 from 114 votes

Glazed Sourdough Lemon Cake

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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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142 thoughts on “Sourdough Lemon Cake with Glaze”

  1. great recipe, I did add poppy seeds since I’m a huge fan of lemon poppyseed muffins. I had been given a ton of lemons by a neighbor that I had zested and juiced & I used those. I’d also made lemon curd, and I put that down the middle of the unbaked loaves. Yummy! poked holes in the loaves while they were still pretty warm and then poured the glaze over. I’ll definitely make again.

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful! I used European style whole milk yogurt (nice and runny) instead of milk, so I used .5 tsp of baking soda out of habit, in addition to the baking soda. Half good EVO and half sunflower oil. (I tasted the batter before I added the lemon, and it was divine … I might try that next time …) The only other alteration was I added a tiny bit green cardamom to the glaze and a very tiny pinch of good salt for just a little extra dimension to the flavor – you can’t really taste it distinctly, but its presence is there. There’s not much left today. 🙂
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this several times and it is always a family favorite! Today I didn’t have lemons, it was snowing so I substituted orange zest and juice from an orange. It is fabulous!!

  4. 4 stars
    Thanks for sharing this very amazing recipe. Made it into muffins and they are so soft and fluffy. Oven 180 degree Celsius for 20 mins. I did double the lemon juice and zest as suggested by some. Will be keeping this recipe for future reference.

  5. 5 stars
    This is so delicious! I made it without the baking soda. Instead of a glaze, I put a frosting on top that had lots of lemon zest in it. Also, there was some extra batter left when I made the loaf, and so I used the extra batter in my donut pan and baked it until they had browned a bit (maybe about 15 minutes). The donuts were a hit! I’m thinking of making this again just using the donut pan. They reminded us of cake donuts. Also, I was thinking that if we omit the lemon flavoring, we could then flavor it other ways, such as with a chocolate or vanilla glaze. What a fantastic recipe, so versatile and delicious. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!!!!

    • I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe! I’m actually working on a vanilla version too but I don’t love it quite yet, needs a bit more sugar! Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  6. Good cake, but unfortunately this has very little lemon flavor as written, even with the glaze. The second time I made this I used a tablespoon of fresh zest and rubbed it into the sugar before mixing, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. This didn’t affect the cake texture, but needed maybe 3 minutes additional baking time. For the glaze I added 2-3 drops of lemon oil (not extract) and that helped.

  7. 5 stars
    Have made this twice and love it!

    Quick question could u add coconut to this and do you think better to do it in the batter or glaze?


  8. 2 stars
    Idk what went wrong but was overdone at 30 minutes! I even added foil at 15 because it was getting too brown. And there was almost no lemon taste. I used fresh lemon juice and zest! I’ll give it another try but right now not a fan and highly disappointed:(

    • hi lisa, most of the lemon flavor definitely comes from the glaze: i find that adding too much lemon to thee loaf itself sometimes had a weird reaction so i keep it light and then load up the glaze with lemon flavor. as for it over-browning at 15 minutes i have no idea what could cause that; that is really strange! i would check your oven temp with an analog thermometer. hope this helps 🙂

  9. 4 stars
    I am baking this the second time now. The first time I baked it, I used both baking powder and soda, and baked it in a loaf pan. The cake had an odd shape, where the sides pulled up, creating an indentation/crater along the edges. The middle of the pan rose nicely as well, but the indentation never completely went away.
    This second time, I only added baking powder (no soda), and it seems to be rising ok – but with that rise along the sides and valley along the edges again. Baking in the same loaf pan. I have been baking for a long time, but I have never seen this before. Is it due to the sourdough discard addition? Is there a way to avoid/counteract it?
    The taste of the cake was really good – I added extra juice and zest as recommended by others.

  10. I did mine in a bundt pan today! Turned out beautifully…I took the cake out of the pan after 15 mins and then added the glaze over top.

    • hi Joe! I would guess a bit under 5 cups of batter. But it does rise and dome on the top. It should work, but you might have to cut off the bottom. The only issue I see is pouring the glaze onto the warm cake and having the pan held contain it (since it will be upside down.). The cake relies on the glaze for sweetness and lemon flavor. Good luck 🙂


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