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Lemon Pudding Cake

After the last IMBB, Sarah Lou from One Whole Clove and I had a bit of a chat about the effect of water baths on souffles. Her lovely Pecorino and Caramelised Veggie Souffle, baked in a water bath, just didn’t rise quite as impressively as she had expected (though it certainly still looked good). Since a souffle gains much of its lift during its initial moments in the oven, it seemed that the water bath, which prevents sudden or extreme temperature changes, might be to blame. My suspicions were confirmed with this recipe for Lemon Pudding Cake from All American Desserts .

I’ve made pudding cake before, chocolate pudding cake, but this pudding cake is a bit different. Unlike its predecessor, this cake is built almost like a souffle: the whites are beaten separately from the rest of the ingredients, and then everything is baked in a water bath. The dessert separates, during baking, into a thick, soft sponge cake layer and a smooth, creamy custard. The water bath insulates the thick, curd-like pudding layer and prevents it from over-cooking, while the sponge rises high above.

The dessert is remarkably unfussy, so if you have two lemons in your kitchen, you’re all set. This recipe really has only five ingredients, though I added vanilla to the original, and is just the right size for three or four people. Since the lemon mixture is so thin, there is no need to fold the egg whites in to it; you can just gently stir the mixtures together. During baking, the top of the cake will turn a light brown as it finishes. Unlike a souffle, this dessert will not fall due to the structure of the cake layer. I ate this after letting it cool for only a few minutes and there were no leftovers, so I can’t attest to its keeping powers, but it tastes so lovely that I suspect you will not have problems keeping it either. The vanilla came through the lemon a bit and I felt like I was eating a very light cake drizzled with lemon curd. Which, essentially, I was.

Lemon Pudding Cake

(from All American Desserts)
2 eggs, separated

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp lemon zest
2/3 cup milk (I used nonfat)

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Place a 9-inch cake pan, filled with about 3/4 inch of water, into the oven. Grease a 1 quart (4 cup) souffle dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour and salt. Add in egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, milk and vanilla and whisk thoroughly. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Stir egg whites gently into lemon mixture, until well combined.
Pour mixture into prepared souffle dish and gently place in water bath.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the cake has risen and begun to pull away from the sides of the dish.
Serve warm.
Serves 4.

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  • Anonymous
    November 10, 2005

    Hey Nic: We are inspired to make this lemon pudding cake, however, we have a question. The recipe requests 2 eggs separated. Do we use the egg yolks in this recipe? It is not included in the recipe. How do you get that beautiful yellow custard looking delight? Can you please let us know, we can’t wait to prepare and share this at work..

  • Nic
    November 10, 2005

    Thanks for pointing that out, Anonymous. I fixed my typo. The yellow custard is the “pudding” part of the pudding cake.

  • boo_licious
    November 10, 2005

    Nic, pudding cake sounds delish.

    We have a special get well WCB this weekend. Do join us with the kitties, details in Farmgirl’s link and my site:


  • Mika
    November 10, 2005

    Amazingly easy dessert, Nic. It looks and sounds good. BTW, my chocolate pudding cake dries up the next day. Do you know if this happens with this- I mean, does the pudding part gets absorbed by the cake layer?

  • Rosa's Yummy Yums
    November 10, 2005

    I love this desserts.
    As a matter of fact, tomorrow, I plan to bake one of those!

  • Nic
    November 10, 2005

    Boo – Thanks for the heads up on the WCB event for Clare.

    Mika – Since this cake is quite different from any chocolate pudding cake I’ve made, I doubt that the custard would be absorbed by the cake. It might, however, thicken up a bit, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Rosa – I hope you enjoy it!

  • rokh
    November 10, 2005

    looks certianly delish! might be trying it out

  • Sarah Lou
    November 10, 2005

    Confirmed. You are a smart cookie!

  • Joe
    November 10, 2005

    This looks very tempting! I’ve never made a pudding type cake where its actually that consistency on the bottom – is it hard to serve/get out of the pan?

  • Nic
    November 10, 2005

    Joe – I really recommend that you try this one. Since the souffle dish is greased and the custard is thick, it actually comes over very easily and cleanly!

  • Fran
    November 11, 2005

    Oh my!!! I just tried this recipe this afternoon and I’m still salivating over the memory of the taste in my mouth. The cake part was very light and “cottony” and the pudding part was light and lemony and not at all runny as I had feared it would be. Excellent results, I urge all to try it. I would like to try a chocolate version next.

  • Lori
    November 11, 2005

    Would you say then that baking pudding cakes benefit more from a water bath?

  • Nic
    November 11, 2005

    Fran – I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. It does have a much better consistency than so many pudding cakes I’ve tried.

    Lori – That’s a tough call to make. I quite like my chocolate one, which is much saucier (versus custardy) and does not involve a water bath. I will say that if you want a more custard-like, thicker pudding, a waterbath is probably the way to go. I really want to try a vanilla pudding cake to see how it turns out.

  • Jessica
    November 12, 2005

    Nice! I like how it’s low-fat. Do you know the chemical reaction that causes the sauce to pool on the bottom?

  • Nic
    November 12, 2005

    Jessica – I like that it’s low fat, too. I don’t know the reaction persay, but in this case, the water protects the egg and allows the water-surrounded bottom of the cake to cook much more slowly than the actual cake part. The batter containing the unprotected egg puffs up, making the cake portion.

  • Dawna
    November 13, 2005

    Hi Nic – looks terrific, as usual. This is actually a dish that I make quite often, with only minor tweaks from the recipe you’ve posted (I use a little less sugar). My question for you is, what kind of eggs are you using to get such full colour in your pudding? Mine is quite a bit paler, although I do use free range, orange yolked eggs. Are you adding anything to boost the colour?

  • Nic
    November 13, 2005

    Hi Dawna. I’m not adding anything to mine. The lemons are from my lemon tree and the eggs are the “ranch fresh” eggs from Trader Joes. Not free range, I think, but it does say all natural feed, etc. on the package.

  • Jan
    February 16, 2007

    I’m wondering if anyone has used one of those Molten ‘n More 6 cup pans with the removable bottoms for this recipe. I received one of those pans yesterday and although I like chocolate lava cakes, I’d much prefer lemon. Omaha Steaks sells them and from looking at the picture on their website, they used a similar pan. Thanks


  • Diana
    June 10, 2007

    Just made this today since I had an extra lemon leftover. It came out delicious! I used two two-cup ramikens. Mine didn’t look like it had as much of the “pudding” as yours in the picture, but what was there was pretty strong in flavor and tartness, so it contrasted nicely with the delicate flavor of the cake part.

  • Ngoc
    August 4, 2007

    Delightful! I can’t wait to try the other citrus incarnations of this pudding cake. I wish I could isolate the cake for other occasions – it’s the perfect texture. Any thoughts on a recipe that would just make the cake part?

  • Jessie Sanders
    January 20, 2010

    Hi Nic, I have a question. I made this tonight and because I don’t have a souffle dish I used a pie pan and still used a water bath as well. There was no pudding on the bottom. I baked it 45 mins and it was just turning golden on top. I let it sit for a few mins and when I scooped into it, all cake. What did I do wrong? I would love your thoughts so I can try again. Thanks!

  • Zoe Gillenwater
    February 7, 2010

    I made this in a cake pan, like Jessie Sanders, because I didn’t have a souffle dish, and I too didn’t get any pudding, just really gooey cake on the bottom. I figured I overcooked it a bit. It was still yummy though. I made it with Meyer lemons, so I cut the sugar down just a bit.

  • marc Larouche
    May 30, 2010

    I wanted to find a fresh dessert for my sunday brunch that i could serve with fruits and perhaps the regular eggs and bacon / sausage (some folks here like the fat 😉 ) and there i was all morning looking for it on your website.

    I must say THANK YOU. every time i’m looking for a recipe I jump on my macbook and fast forward to your page.

    The recipe was fantastic, although I decided to put the zest at the end and because I doubled the portions and In my experience, the zest seems to disappear when cooking. I topped the pudding with lemon slices and strawberries. Exquisite!

  • […] isn’t the first time I’ve worked with this recipe. I’ve made lemon and orange pudding cakes before, and limes falling off the tree from over-ripeness seemed like the […]

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