Here's 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 easy mix-and-pour recipe ups the lemon flavor while keeping everything moist and tender. It's a zesty and flavorful bread that is a delicious addition to any brunch, afternoon snack or dessert.
Looking for more easy sourdough discard recipes? Try my Sticky Bun Sourdough Coffee Cake here, Quick Sourdough Vegetable Fritters here, or this Cheesy Sourdough Batter Bread Recipe. And be sure to check out this amazing list of 35 Easy Sourdough Discard Recipes!
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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 you're feeding daily which is called "discard"- though we aren't throwing it out!
A family can only have so much sourdough bread, after all, and the discard is often considered not active which wouldn't raise bread well.
Even if you bake with it once a week and then put it in the fridge to slow the growth, you'll still have a couple, if not more, discards while waking it back up.
Most of the time you may not have much discard, or don't have time to make anything right then, but don't throw it away! Simply put it in a container in the fridge until you do - you can add to this each time you have discard.
Why Use Sourdough Discard?
While you won't get the full gut healthy benefits of sourdough when using the discard since there isn't a long fermenting time, you do get some of that sourdough goodness as well as some nice sourdough flavor.
Honestly, though, the main benefit is to not waste the precious sourdough starter. And I find experimenting with different ways to use up the starter is fun, too.
Why is your lemon bread not yellow?
You may have noticed that this bread looks whole-wheatish instead of some of the yellow tinged lemon loaves you may have seen.
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 used in the recipe.
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. (Note: Some have had success with switching, and some haven't - I almost lost my starter when using a different flour so now I err on the side of sticking with the initial flour used.)
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 some photos 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.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this amazing lemon bread sourdough discard recipe:
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 discard - this can be from a recent feeding or cold from the fridge.
- Flour - both unbleached all purpose and whole wheat pastry flour will work.
- Oil - this is my favorite neutral oil to use in baking
- Pure lemon oil, optional but recommended for a stronger lemon flavor along with the juice and fresh lemon zest - 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 is food grade 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.
How to make sourdough lemon bread
Here are a few helpful visual instructions - the full instructions with exact ingredients can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Step 1: Make the batter. Mix the oil together with the eggs, sugar and lemon zest, juice and oil if using in a large mixing bowl. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a smaller bowl. Stir together the sourdough starter and milk in a third bowl or measuring cup.
Step 2: Mix and bake. Add the dry ingredients and starter mixtures to the sugar-oil mixture alternately, starting with the flour, mixing just until combined. Pour batter into a loaf pan, baking about an hour until a toothpick in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.
Step 3: Glaze. Once the loaf is cooled completely you can serve it as is, but a glaze makes it a lot more like that Starbucks lemon cake everybody loves. (And 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 room temperature butter if you'd like more of a frosting-like glaze, but I was going for that classic lemon glaze so kept it simple.
Storage and Freezing
Storage: 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.
Freezing: This is my favorite way to store any type of sliced bread - when they are thawed it's almost like fresh bread again!
Since this 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!
More Lemon Recipes To Try
What Readers Are Saying
"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!" -Kelly
"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." -Courtney
"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." -Susan
I hope you love this sourdough lemon bread! If you make it, be sure to leave a recipe rating so I know how you liked it!
Glazed Sourdough Lemon Bread
- 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan
For Lemon Bread:
- 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil sunflower, avocado, or refined coconut, or melted butter
- 2/3 cup cane sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 large lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice, 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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