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. 5 stars
    Delicious! Definitely double this recipe if you plan on sharing. I followed the original recipe and didn’t add any baking soda. It depoofed a bit but didn’t shrink, a minute or two longer in the oven would have worked – next time! I did add a tablespoon of poppyseeds when I stirred in the lemon juice and zest. This recipe is a keeper!

  2. I was super excited about this recipe. I’m only a year into baking with sourdough but I love it so much. I travel around in Pinterest to find unusual was of using discard. I am in love with this cake. I wish I’d have had lemon zest buti did not. Next and that a definitely yes I will make again. Years ago we recieved a subscription someone had gotten us at Christmas. It was a lemon cake covered in dark chocolate frosting. This texture of cake reminds me of it. I’m definitely going to make a chocolate glaze to pour over next round.
    Thanks lovin sourdough

  3. 5 stars
    Holy crap this was amazing everyone loved it. I didn’t have a real lemon so I used bottled lemon juice and organic lemon extract instead and it worked fabulously. I also used active starter instead of discard just for fun and it came out so light and fluffy. Definitely making this one again thank you for sharing your recipe!!

      1. 5 stars
        I just made this and went to rate it because it came out so perfectly. I noticed I already left a comment last year though lol 😂 but apparently I made the same adjustments and it came out just as perfectly as last time. This time though I did use cake flour instead of AP and it worked very nicely too. Thanks again again!

  4. 2 stars
    Not sure what happen? I measured everything by weight and followed the recipe to the tee. It came out dense and not much flavor. Because of all the other comments were outstanding, I thought great, I’ll give it a try. For me, I would not make it again. Maybe you will have better luck, if you want to try making it.

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cake twice. The second time I used orange zest & juice. Both cakes came out perfect. Thank for sharing your recipe, it’s a keeper in my personal cookbook.

  6. 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?

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. thanks for writing this! I was searching the comments to see if anyone had added blueberries. Did you coat your cranberries with flour before adding them?

  13. 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!!