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Mama’s Easy Iced Sourdough Lemon Cake

When moist buttery pound cake meets fresh lemon zest, it’s a match made in heaven bursting with flavor. With creamy lemon icing and a tight, dense crumb this sourdough lemon cake turns leftover discard into a delicious lemony loaf.

A loaf of sourdough lemon cake glazed with lemon icing on a cutting board with two lemons in the background.

Why you’ll love this easy recipe.

You can never have enough sourdough discard recipes and my family raves about “Mama’s sourdough lemon cake”. It’s delicious and packed with lemon flavor. I know you’re going to love it.

  • Unapologetically moist, the texture of this cake is rich and heavy, just what you’d expect from a pound cake.
  • Delicious caramelized dark brown crumb around the edges
  • A great recipe for spring with its fresh lemon juice flavor
  • Dense and tender cake with a buttery finish
  • Great way to use up real lemons
  • Deliciously sweet lemon glaze
A sourdough lemon cake with a white lemon glaze and two lemons in the background.

Sourdough lemon cake Ingredients

The cake batter uses only 10 ingredients and comes together quickly.

Dry ingredients: Grab some all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Simple!

Wet ingredients: You’ll need room temperature unsalted butter. Then, some sugar, sourdough starter (either active sourdough starter or discard, both work fine), eggs, sour cream (this helps keep the crumb a bit lighter), vanilla extract, and some fresh lemons.

Fresh, real lemons are a must for the best results. Bottled lemon extract just doesn’t produce the same delicious lemon cake flavor.

Top-down shot of a sourdough lemon cake with a white icing drizzled over the top.

Helpful tools:

Electric Mixer: Not essential, but an absolute workhorse in the kitchen, especially for baking.

A large bowl for the flour mixture and another large mixing bowl for the wet ingredients.

Loaf Pan: An 8×4-inch loaf pan or a 9×5-inch loaf pan (for a shorter loaf).

Wire Rack: I have several wire cooling racks handy in my kitchen. A must for proper cooling.

Tips for a great lemon cake:

  • We’re using both lemon zest and juice in this recipe. Zest the lemon first before you juice it. Please don’t ask me how I learned that this order works better.
  • Pound cake is made with a very thick batter. There is minimal liquid in the recipe so don’t worry if the batter seems thick. Use a spoon if you need to scoop and spread it into the greased loaf pan.
  • This pound cake takes a long time to bake all the way through, usually around 60 minutes. You’ll likely need to tent the cake with aluminum foil halfway through the baking process to prevent over-browning.
  • Expect the outside of the cake to get pretty dark. This recipe makes a darker caramelized exterior. Keep your eye on the cake as it bakes, it shouldn’t look or smell burnt, but it will develop dark and crispy-looking edges that taste wonderful. You can use a light-colored pan for a lighter result.
  • Bake times will vary. You can make sure the cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s done. If you see a few moist crumbs on the toothpick that’s okay, too. You can also use a cake tester.
Sourdough lemon cake with a lemon in the background.

Thick Lemon Cake Icing

When life hands you lemons, make a delectable, creamy-sweet lemon glaze. This icing tops off the incredible lemon flavor of this sourdough pound cake. It’s nice and thick and will set in a few hours. All you need to whip it up is some heavy cream (half-and-half or milk work too), lemon juice, and confectioners’ sugar.

Storage and make-ahead

I love to double this recipe and bake two loaves. This way I can allow the extra loaf to cool completely before wrapping it up in plastic wrap and freezing it for later enjoyment!

If freezing your cake, allow it to defrost overnight in the fridge. Set it out at room temperature then mix up your icing topping. This cake freezes well for up to 3 months.

Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Sourdough lemon pound cake on a plate with lemons in the background.


Q. Can you add sourdough discard to cake mix?

Yes, the addition of sourdough discard to a cake mix works well with most cake recipes. It adds a depth of flavor and typically works without needing to adjust ingredient ratios. Try adding 1/2 cup of discard in when mixing up the wet ingredients.

Q. Can I add blueberries or poppy seeds to this recipe?

Absolutely! I recommend folding fresh, not frozen blueberries into the batter. You can also add the poppy seed at this time. Just incorporate the add-ins gently with a spatula before spooning the batter into your prepared pan.

Q. Can I substitute milk or yogurt for the sour cream?

Yes, you can use milk or yogurt instead of sour cream, but this will dramatically affect the texture of the cake. It won’t be as sturdy and dense as a traditional pound cake.

Q. Can I turn this into a bundt cake?

If you want to adapt this recipe into a bundt cake you’ll need to double the recipe and use 3/4 cup of sour cream. Also, increase the baking time to 75-95 minutes.

More favorite recipes from Rooted Deep Home:

Best Moist Sourdough Chocolate Cupcakes

Sourdough Banana Nut Bread

Chewy, Homemade Sourdough Granola Bars

Yield: 1 loaf

Mama's Easy Iced Sourdough Lemon Cake

A loaf of sourdough lemon cake glazed with lemon icing on a cutting board with two lemons in the background.

When moist buttery pound cake meets fresh lemon zest, it's a match made in heaven bursting with flavor. With creamy lemon icing and a tight, dense crumb this sourdough lemon cake turns leftover discard into a delicious lemony loaf.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter (discard or active), at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperate
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lemon Icing:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream or milk (heavy cream makes a thicker icing)


  1. Lower the oven rack to the bottom third position and get the oven preheating to 350 degrees F. Grease your 9x5 or 8x4 loaf pan with butter or non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and cream together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add the sourdough starter, sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Beat on medium speed until combined.
  5. With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in thirds. Be careful not to over-mix. The batter will be very thick.
  6. Spoon and spread the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil halfway through the baking time. Pound cakes are very dense and take a long time to bake. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with just a few moist crumbs stuck on it.
  7. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow it to cool inside the loaf pan for at least an hour before removing it from the pan to finish cooling on the rack.
  8. Make the icing. Whisk together all of the icing ingredients and then drizzle it over the cake. Serve immediately or wait until the cake cools completely. Slices will be neater and firmer once totally cooled.
  9. Cover and store leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.


Make Ahead & Freeze: This cake freezes great. Simply bake and cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap and storing in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, allow the cake to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then let it sit at room temperature while you mix up the icing.

Add Blueberries: Fold in 1 cup of fresh blueberries for a fun variation of this recipe.

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