Lemon Pudding Cake Recipe

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Photo from Betty Crocker web site.

Cake on top and pudding/custard on the bottom, pudding cakes are basically two desserts in one. Their beauty lies in their utter simplicity as they are so easy to make that even a novice baker will have no problems. In the heat of the oven, a single batter magically transforms into two distinct layers. Pudding cakes have been around for many years, as your great-grandmother probably made them. Recipes began appearing in American cookbooks in the 1890s, where they were often called "pudding sponges."

Lemon Pudding Cake

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Lemon Pudding Cake Recipe:

Recipe Type: Cake, Lemons, Pudding Cake
Yields: 6 servings
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 25 min


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice, strained
1 cup milk
4 egg whites, room temperature
Powdered (confectioners') sugar for dusting, optional


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to center position.

Lightly butter or spray with non-stick spray the individual custard cups, or ramekins of your choice. If you don't have individual custard cups, bake the batter in an 8-inch square baking dish (or other shallow 2-quart baking dish). Bring several quarts of water to boil for water bath.

In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and salt; beat until crumbly. Beat in egg yolks and flour, mixing until smooth. Slowly beat in lemon zest and juice; stir in milk.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently whisk whites into batter just until no large lumps remain. Immediately ladle batter into prepared baking pan or custard cups. Do not pour; otherwise, the first cups get all the froth and the later cups get all the batter.

Set a roasting pan onto oven rack. Lay folded dish towel onto bottom of roasting pan; set custard cups or baking pan on top of towel. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of baking pan or custard cups. The gradual, even heat of baking in a water bath insulates the pudding cakes from the direct heat of the oven, preventing over-baking at the edges before the centers are set.

Bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes (for ramekins or custard cups) or  30 to 35 minutes (for 2-quart baking dish) or until pudding cake center is set and springs back when gently touched. Remove roasting pan from oven and set on a wire rack. Let pan or cups continue to stand in water bath for 10 minutes.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

When baked in ramekins or custard cups, pudding cakes can be inverted after baking and served upside down. I prefer them served chilled, but if you prefer them served warm, allow enough time to let the pudding cakes rest first, about 30 minutes after removing them from the oven, so the custard can set properly. Served cold, they have more intense flavor, and the two layers are more distinct. If desired, sprinkle the individual pudding cakes with powdered sugar just before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Variation Ideas:

Orange Pudding Cake - Follow the recipe above making the following changes:

  • Substitute the lemon zest and lemon juice (1/4 cup) with 1 medium orange for the lemon zest and juice.
  • Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice along with the orange juice.

Chocolate Pudding Cake - Follow the recipe above making the following changes:

  • In a medium-size bowl, make a thick cocoa paste by slowly stirring 1/2 cup boiling water into 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa. Cool the paste slightly, then stir in 1 tablespoon dark rum. Substitute cocoa paste for lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Decrease flour from 3 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons.

Bourbon Pudding Cake - Follow the recipe above making the following changes:

  • Decrease flour from 3 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons.
  • Substitute 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey for lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Increase milk from 1 cup  to 1 1/3 cups.


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