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
    I’ve made this twice. I added only 1/4 tsp baking soda the second time using the doubled recipe.. Very very good.

  2. 5 stars
    So pleased with this easy recipe! Turned out perfect and so yum! I used more fresh lemon juice also because I’m a lemon lover. I also probably used 3/4 cup active starter. Yum!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is fantastic! I used rhe butter instead of oil, but I just creamed it with the sugar and didn’t bother melting it. I also used 4tbsps of lemon juice because I’m a lemon freak. I’ve added blueberries, raspberries, and my niece just made it with huckleberries — all were delicious! Thank you!

  4. Loved this cake. I used gluten free better batter for the flour and added some psyllium husk. Family had no idea it was gluten free!!! Thank you

  5. Absolutely delicious cake! I made this for my sweet daughter in laws birthday and she loved it. I added fresh violets on top.
    2 questions:
    1. If I make + freeze, when I take it out to defrost and add glaze, should I warm it up in the oven for a few minutes so the glaze can soak in an harden?
    2. If I use 1/2 oil + 1/2 butter, do I cream the butter + sugar for a few minutes before adding the other ingredients?

    1. Hi Maria! 🙂 Yes I Would warm it up slightly, wrapepd inf oil so i t doesn’t dry out. I’d recommend melted butter instead! I’m so glad you liked it and the violets sound beautiful!

  6. 5 stars
    My family cannot get enough of this lemon cake. I follow the recipe every time, and it turns out beautiful every time I make it! It is so easy to make too, which is another plus! Great way to use your discard!

  7. 4 stars
    Delightful lightly flavored cake that definitely needs the glaze on top for flavor. I probably would have preferred to use a cake pan instead of loaf pan. I’ll try that next time and have fresh fruit on the side.

  8. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! I made it exactly as described but accidentally put a cup of milk so naturally I had to triple the recipe. I’m glad I did make that mistake because it is now a family favorite dessert!

  9. 5 stars
    Bread came out Beautiful and cooked for 50 min and added 10 more minutes and 10 more minutes! Cooked in a glass loaf pan.

  10. This loaf was amazing!!! I followed the instructions and it turned out perfect. Thank you, I now have something other than crackers to make with my discard😊

  11. 1 star
    Followed the directions to a T and it was mega runny and spilled out of the loaf pans onto the bottom of the oven. I’m an experienced baker, and this was definitely a bust.
    My sourdough discard was on the thicker side, so that wasn’t the problem. Disappointing.

    1. Hi Hanna! I’ve never done it only because I worry about the lemon turning bitter. Maybe if you mixed it without the lemon, t hen added that right before baking?