Welcome to one of my absolute favorite ways to use up sourdough discard - sourdough lemon bread with a thick and lemony glaze. Using lemon juice, zest, and lemon oil, this recipe amps up the lemon flavor while keeping everything moist and tender. Works for dessert, snack, or breakfast!
One of the things you find out fast after growing and maintaining a sourdough starter is that you need a LOT of different ways to use up the extra starter you have when you do your daily feeds (it's called the "discard" though we aren't throwing it out!) .
A family can only have so much bread, after all. (Of course the best solution is to bake with it once a week and then put it in the fridge to slow the growth, but even then you'll have at least one discard while waking it back up fully.)
Plus there are times when you can't deal with the extra right away, so you just put it in a container and place it in the fridge until you do.
Since this wouldn't be considered a 'fed' starter by the time you use it, you won't want to use it for raising bread, but it's great to use in things like crackers, waffles, sticky bun coffee cake - and now this totally delicious lemon bread.
When using sourdough starter in recipes like this, you don't get the "full" gut healthy benefits since we're just using one cup and there isn't any ferment time. But you do get some of that sourdough goodness as well as a bit of the flavor.
Honestly, though, the main benefit for me is to not waste the precious sourdough starter. And experimenting with different ways to use the starter is fun, too.
Um, why is your lemon bread not yellow?
Yeah, you may have noticed that this bread looks whole-wheatish instead of typical yellow tinged lemon loaves. That's because my sourdough starter is made and maintained with whole wheat flour. So the bread has a cup of whole wheat flour along with the unbleached flour I used.
TIP: To keep your starter at its healthiest, always stick with feeding the flour you initially grew it with. If you want to try a different flour, start a whole new starter.
Also, those really yellow lemon breads and cakes? They have food coloring added. There's no lemon juice in the world that will turn flour bright yellow like I've seen, even if it is bleached white flour.
Color aside, if you are in the mood for a moist and lemony sweet bread with just a hint of sourdough, you've come to the right place! A piece of this bread with afternoon tea = heaven.
Glazed Sourdough Lemon Bread
Sweet breads are typically mix-pour-bake recipes and this easy lemon loaf is no exception. You'll need just a handful of basic ingredients - and one sort of special ingredient that is optional:
- Sourdough starter
- Flour (unbleached all purpose, whole wheat pastry flour also works)
- Baking powder and salt
- Oil (this is my favorite neutral oil to use in baking)
- Cane sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Large lemon
- Optional: pure lemon oil for cooking (I use Boyajian, an undiluted pure oil made from lemon rinds - you can get it on Amazon here or at King Arthur Flour here.)
What is lemon oil - is it the same as lemon extract?
Lemon oil is produced from the rinds of lemons and when it's not diluted with other oils (some do, so read the labels), it's got a very intense lemon flavor which really comes through in baking. (Note: You'll want to make sure if a product is labeled 'essential oil' that it's for cooking and not just to use for home products.)
Lemon extract is made by mixing the rind oil with alcohol, like other extracts. It's fine to use here if that's what you have, but the flavor won't be as intense, which is always what I'm going for in lemon recipes.
For this recipe you'll take three basic steps to make the batter:
- Mix the oil together with the eggs, sugar and lemon zest, juice and oil if using.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.
- Stir together the sourdough starter and milk in a third bowl or measuring cup.
Then you combine these together alternately to create a bit of lightness to the batter before pouring into a buttered loaf pan and baking for about an hour.
You can leave the loaf as is, but a glaze makes it a lot more like that Starbucks lemon loaf everybody loves. Personally, I wouldn't ever leave off the glaze, lol.
The glaze is simply powdered sugar and lemon juice, but the ratio of juice to sugar is a bit lower to create a thicker glaze. You can also add some softened butter if you'd like more of a frosting-like glaze, but I was going for that classic lemon glaze so kept it simple.
How to Store Lemon Bread
If you have leftover slices of lemon bread, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two, or in the fridge for three to four days.
My favorite way to store slices of the bread is to freeze them. When they are thawed it's almost like fresh bread again!
Since the bread is so moist, you will need to place a piece of wax paper in between each piece, which will make it easier to remove just a piece or two at a time. Take it from me - it's not fun trying to pry them apart with a knife, ha!
Love lemon? Then check out these other lemony recipes:
- Zucchini Lemon Bread
- Lemon Glazed Cupcakes
- Honey Sweetened Lemon Flaxseed Muffins
- Lemon Berry Cake with BEST Lemon Frosting
Glazed Sourdough Lemon Bread
- 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan
For Lemon Bread:
- 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil sunflower, avacodo, or refined coconut*
- 2/3 cup cane sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 large lemon zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons, divided)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil optional
- 1 ½ cups unbleached flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sourdough starter fed or unfed
- 1/3 cup milk lukewarm
- 1 to 1⅓ cups powdered sugar depending on the consistency you'd like
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (remaining tablespoon)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan well.
- Mix oil, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and oil (if using) in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a third bowl or 2-cup measure, combine the starter and warmed milk.
- Add the flour and starter mixtures to the sugar-oil mixture alternately, starting with the flour: 1/3 flour, 1/2 starter, 1/3 flour, 1/2 starter, remaining flour. Scrape as needed, mixing just until combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes in pan (TIP: make the glaze while it's cooling in the pan). Place a piece of wax paper under a metal cooling rack and remove the loaf from the pan onto the rack to cool completely.
- Mix up the glaze ingredients to the desired consistency in a small bowl.
- Spread the glaze with a spatula over the still warm loaf, letting some drip over the edges.
- Cool completely before cutting into slices.
- Keep in airtight container for a couple days at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Freeze for longer storage, adding wax paper between slices to be able to remove a few slices at a time to thaw.
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Would bread flour work with this recipe instead of all purpose? That’s all k have at the moment but would love to try this! Thanks!
Yes, that should work but you will want to beat the dough very carefully and may need to add a bit of liquid if it seems too dry.
This sourdough discard lemon bread came out so light and yummy! I added a handful of frozen wild blueberries and some extra dried wild blueberries i had lying around, and it came out incredible! Definitely filing this recipe away in my saved pile!
So glad to hear it, Marsha - I bet the berries were terrific in this!
Hello Jami - the recipe says the lemon juice is divided. Do you use 1 T in the batter and the other T in the glaze? Thank you.
Yes! I clarified that in the recipe - thank you.
Is it possible to turn this into a long ferment recipe? We have gluten intolerance and need it to ferment for 8 or more hours.
Hmm, you'd need to experiment, Sam. You want to make sure the baking powder is added just before baking so it doesn't lose it's raising ability.
I would try soaking the flour, starter, and maybe milk overnight and then proceeding with the recipe, adding the rest although you won't be able to alternate the mixes which adds air to the dough. You could maybe stir a bit more, but gently.
If it's this way or not making it, I don't think you'd care as much about air in the dough - it should still be the great flavor. 🙂
Susan Pierce says
Absolutely delicious, I didn’t have any lemon oil or extract so I added extra lemon rind and will be getting some of the oil This is my new favorite discard recipe. I also made it in three mini loaf pans instead of one regular loaf pan.
So glad you like this as much as I do, Susan!
Courtney Chang says
This was awesome! So delicious. I used coconut oil and added a tablespoon and a half of poppyseeds. Do not skip the glaze, it ties the whole thing together.
I’m wondering if you would have any idea how to cook this in the mini loaf pans. I’d love to give the mini loaves as gifts! (It’s that good!! Gift worthy!!)
Thanks for some awesome recipes!
So glad you liked this, Courtney! Yes, I often make single loaves into mini size. It depends on the size of the mini pans you have, but I've found that a loaf this size usually makes 3 smaller loaves. Just fill the small pans 1/2 to 3/4 full.
Love this recipe along with your other recipes for sourdough discard! I made this with butter and baked it in a Bundt pan for 50 minutes. My teenage boys loved it with a side of blueberries! Thanks for your recipes!!
What a great idea to bake it in a bundt pan! Glad you all liked it. 🙂
This is next on my list. It's interesting that you say you stick to the same flour in your starter. I use whatever I have, I've never had a problem with my starter.
Love your pumpkin bread recipe
Hope you enjoy this when it's time, Ginger!
As for the flour, I was having issues with my starter after using unbleached all purpose for a week or so at the beginning of the pandemic when I couldn't find whole wheat flour. I read that recommendation to stick with one flour for a healthy starter and went back to WW as soon as I could find it again and my starter roared back to its former self. Which is why I wrote that from my experience. That said, we know that sourdough is individual and capricious, lol, so I'm not surprised your experience is different. 🙂