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Sourdough starter discard cake ciambella

Sourdough Starter Discard Cake Ciambella

  • Author: Maurizio Leo
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cake
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Italian


This sourdough starter discard cake is an Italian treat that’s made in minutes. Intensely lemony, a little sweet, and ultra-tender, it’s perfect any time.


  • 177g neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or a very mild olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 423g all-purpose flour (Cairnspring Mills Edison All-Purpose Flour)
  • 7g baking powder (1 ½ teaspoon)
  • 3g fine sea salt (½ teaspoon)
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 232g granulated sugar (I like to use superfine sugar)
  • 171g (3 large) eggs, at room temperature
  • 211g whole milk
  • 28g limoncello (2 tablespoons; see Note)
  • 100g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration) discard (see Note)
  • 7g vanilla extract (1 ½ teaspoons)
  • Powdered sugar, for topping (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven with a rack in the middle to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9-inch ring mold pan with neutral oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until the sugar dissolves and the mixture turns slightly bubbly, 2 minutes. Add the oil, milk, limoncello, sourdough starter, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously until everything is combined and the mixture becomes frothy. Add the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined (avoid overmixing). Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan on a sheet pan.
  4. Bake until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Use an offset spatula or knife to gently release the edges of the cake from the pan, turn the cake out onto a wire rack, and let cool. Once completely cool, dust the top with powdered sugar (if desired). The cake will keep well for several days on the kitchen counter, covered.


To make this ciambella vegan, substitute the milk for a full-fat nut or oat milk, and instead of the eggs, use a “flax egg.”

The juice of 1 lemon can be used in place of the limoncello.

If you don’t have any sourdough starter discard, use 50g flour and 50g whole milk in its place.

Sambuca (anise-flavored) ciambella: Substitute the limoncello for 2 tablespoons of sambuca.

Orange ciambella: Substitute the lemon zest for the zest of 1 orange and the limoncello for Grand Marnier.

Poppyseed ciambella: Omit the vanilla extract. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of poppy seeds to the dry ingredients, and swap in the zest of 1 orange for the lemon zest.

Keywords: lemon, bundt cake, tube pan, quick, easy, authentic