Lemon Pudding Cakes

With fluffy lemon cake on top and rich lemon pudding on the bottom, these unique lemon pudding cakes are a texture dream. It’s all made from 1 easy cake batter and 8 simple ingredients. Baked in individual ramekins, these little cakes are surprisingly easy to prepare, but seem wonderfully special.

lemon pudding cakes

Like many of us right now, I’ve been sticking to kitchen basics the past several weeks. This includes comforting and homemade basics like no yeast bread and breakfast casserole (which doubles as an easy dinner!). With sunshine, warmer days, and Mother’s Day on the horizon, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something completely FRESH & NEW.

Tell Me About These Lemon Pudding Cakes

  • Part lemon cake, part lemon pudding (made from just 1 cake batter)
  • Fluffy, creamy, and rich all in one
  • Sweet, tangy, and refreshing
  • Simple, yet totally fancy
  • 8 easy ingredients like butter, eggs, and lemons

The Best Part of All: Bake these lemon cakes in individual ramekins. Similar to lava cakes in both presentation and texture, the lemon pudding cakes are perfectly packaged in their own pre-portioned cup. I love that! Such a fun and unique recipe.

lemon pudding cakes

Best Ingredients for Lemon Pudding Cakes

Let me walk you through each ingredient so you understand its importance. Substitutions are not ideal and the full written recipe is below.

  • Eggs: Since we’re essentially making pudding AND cake in one, we need eggs. (Eggs are a main ingredient in both classic desserts, providing most of the structure and texture.) Separate your eggs before beginning. We’ll use both the yolks and whites in this recipe, which is wonderfully convenient. Use the egg yolks in the base of the cake batter and whip the egg whites separately. Whipped egg whites help the cakes rise. As you know from making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, even a drip of egg yolk will prevent your whites from whipping. For this reason, I strongly recommend a handy egg separator (affiliate link– I love it!).
  • Milk: Milk is the liquid in this cake batter. I recommend whole milk for the richest taste and texture, but lower fat or nondairy milk can be used in a pinch.
  • Butter: 2 Tablespoons of melted butter add flavor.
  • Lemons: Use fresh lemons for optimal flavor. You need lemon zest and juice.
  • Vanilla Extract: More flavor.
  • All-Purpose Flour: If you’re low on flour right now, great news– this recipe only needs 1/3 cup of it. Do not use cake flour or bread flour. I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free alternatives, but let me know if you do.
  • Salt: Provides flavor balance.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sweetens, but also helps whip the egg whites into stiff peaks.

ingredients used in lemon cakes

Overview: How to Make Lemon Pudding Cakes

  1. Prepare ramekins. As you can see, you bake these lemon pudding cakes in individual ramekins or oven-safe bowls. 6 ounce size is best. Grease them with nonstick spray or butter, then place them in a large casserole dish. Like crème brûlée, these little desserts must bake in a water bath. The water bath creates a moist and humid environment, which is imperative for their texture. Dry heat will leave you with rubbery tasting cakes.
  2. Whisk most of the ingredients together. Combine the egg yolks, milk, butter, lemon zest & juice, and vanilla extract. Then whisk in the flour, salt, and most of the sugar.
  3. Beat the egg whites. Beat the egg whites until they reach soft foamy peaks. Sprinkle in the remaining sugar, then beat until stiff peaks form. This airy, voluminous mixture is the secret to the fluffy lemon cake on top. There’s no baking powder or soda in this recipe.
  4. Carefully fold everything together.
  5. Divide between ramekins. In all of my recipe testing, I got either 6 or 7 cakes from this amount of batter. (Depended on how much the egg whites deflated.)
  6. Add water for water bath. Without splashing into the ramekins, slowly pour hot water into the casserole dish around the ramekins.
  7. Bake. Bake until the lemon cakes are puffy and lightly browned on top. The bake time is KEY, so don’t walk away during those last few minutes. Overbaking will cook the pudding on the bottom of the cakes, so I usually remove them at 35 minutes.
  8. Slightly cool the cakes outside of the water bath. 
  9. Garnish & dig in! A dusting of confectioners’ sugar hits the spot.

Step-by-Step Photos

I usually prepare the egg yolk mixture first, but for picture organization, I’m showing you the egg whites first. Below on the left are the foamy egg whites. Below on the right are the stiff peaks, after we add the sugar.

whipping egg whites

Here we have the egg yolk mixture. Carefully begin adding the fluffy egg whites.

lemon pudding cake batter

After gently folding in the egg whites, the cake batter has nearly tripled in volume. It should be foamy, creamy, and smooth:

lemon pudding cake batter

Divide the batter between the ramekins and bake in a water bath. The lemon pudding cakes will puff up in the oven, but slightly deflate as they cool.

baking lemon pudding cakes in a water bath

lemon pudding cakes

3 Success Tips

  1. Individual Ramekins: I strongly recommend using 6 ounce ramekins. I used these (affiliate link) oven-safe pyrex bowls. If using larger ramekins, the bake time will be longer. If using smaller ramekins, the bake time will be shorter. I’m unsure how this recipe will turn out as one large cake, but the batter should fit into a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Water Bath: Place the ramekins in a large baking/casserole dish or roasting pan, spoon the batter into each, then fill the pan with hot water. As I mention above, the water bath creates a moist and humid environment, which is imperative for their texture. Same story for cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake, artisan bread, and crème brûlée.
  3. Bake Time: Start checking right after 30 minutes. The edges should be set, the tops should be puffy and lightly browned, and the bottoms should be pudding.

It seems like a lot, but I’m extremely thorough in my directions. Once you get going, you’ll see how simple these are to throw together!

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lemon pudding cakes

Lemon Pudding Cakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 or 7 cakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

With fluffy lemon cake on top and rich lemon pudding on the bottom, these unique lemon pudding cakes are a texture dream. For best success, read through the recipe and recipe notes before beginning.


Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice, at room temperature (about 3 large lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (41g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, divided
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar for dusting and/or fresh berries and lemon slices

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease 6-7 six ounce ramekins with butter or nonstick spray. Place into a large baking pan or casserole dish. The cakes will bake in a water bath inside the casserole dish.
  2. Whisk egg yolks, milk, melted butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Whisk in the flour, salt, and 3/4 cup (150g) of sugar until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high high speed into soft foamy peaks, about 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup (50g) of sugar on top, then beat into stiff glossy peaks, about 1-2 minutes. (Stiff peaks hold their shape when you lift the beaters/whisk.)
  4. Spoon about 1/3 of the egg whites into the lemon batter. Working slowly and carefully so as not to deflate the egg whites, gently fold together until combined. Gently fold in another 1/3 of the egg whites until combined, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Batter will be thick and airy.
  5. Divide between greased ramekins, filling nearly to the top. In all my recipe testing, I got either 6 or 7 cakes from this amount of batter. (Depended on how much the egg whites deflated.)
  6. Add water for water bath: Without splashing into the ramekins, slowly pour hot water into the casserole dish around the ramekins, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. If it’s easier, you can transfer the casserole dish to the oven first, then carefully pour in the hot water.
  7. Carefully place the casserole dish/baking pan in the oven. Bake until the lemon cakes are puffy and lightly browned on top, about 35-40 minutes. Overbaking will cook the pudding on the bottom of the cakes, so I usually remove them at 35 minutes.
  8. Using tongs or an oven mitt, remove the cakes from the casserole dish and place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet or kitchen towel to catch any dripping water. Cool cakes for 15-20 minutes before serving. You can serve warm or wait until they cool to room temperature.
  9. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar and/or fresh berries or lemon slices, if desired.
  10. Cover leftover cakes tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Warm in the microwave, if desired, before enjoying.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: I don’t recommend freezing these lemon cakes because they will deflate and won’t reheat properly. For making ahead, you can prepare the cakes 1 day in advance. Bake and cool as directed. Once room temperature, cover cakes tightly and refrigerate until the next day. Warm cakes on a baking sheet or in a baking dish (no water bath necessary) in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 10-15 minutes. I don’t recommend preparing the batter ahead of time– it will deflate.
  2. Ramekins: I strongly recommend using 6 ounce ramekins. I used these (affiliate link) oven-safe pyrex bowls. If using larger ramekins, the bake time will be longer. If using smaller ramekins, the bake time will be shorter. I’m unsure how this recipe will turn out as one large cake, but the batter should fit into a 9-inch square baking pan. I’m unsure of the best bake time.
  3. Eggs: Eggs separate easiest when they’re cold. Egg whites will whip into fluffier peaks if they’re room temperature, so I suggest separating the cold eggs, then letting the separated yolks and whites sit for about 20 minutes before starting the recipe.
  4. Milk: Whole milk is best, but you can use a lower fat or nondairy milk if you’re in a pinch. The cakes won’t taste as rich. I don’t recommend half-and-half or heavy cream.
  5. Room Temperature: Make sure the cold ingredients (milk, lemon juice, egg yolks) are room temperature. If they’re cold, they will solidify the butter and/or possibly deflate the egg whites.
  6. Adapted from Fine Cooking. Reduced butter, milk, lemon zest & salt. Used more lemon juice and flour. Added vanilla. Method made a bit easier in just 2 bowls.

Keywords: lemon cakes, lemon cake, pudding cake, pudding

94 Comments

  1. I made these today and they were delicious! I used cup4cup gluten free flour and they turned out very well!

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed them- and glad to know using a GF flour worked, too!

  2. Made these and they were the PERFECT Mother’s Day dessert after kabobs and gifts :). My picky brother went back for seconds. Everyone relished the tart lemon flavor & the warm, toasty top of the cake. Thanks for another hit Sally!! & a pretty easy, foolproof one at that!

  3. I made these today for a Mother’s Day dessert and they were a HIT! I was shocked at how easy they were to make – will be a go to recipe from now on!

  4. I don’t have ramekins. Can I make the cake in an 8 inch round pan instead? If yes, what would the bake time be?

    1. I’m unsure how this recipe will turn out as one large cake, but the batter should fit into a 9-inch square baking pan. I’m unsure of the best bake time.

    2. Thanks for the recipe! I reduced to 2/3 because I only had six 4oz ramekins. They came out great! I just watched out for the browning on top, then turned off the oven. I had the pudding layer and the fluffy layer. Luscious! Thank you <3

  5. These are the BOMB!!!! Made them for Mother’s Day dessert – my husband and I loved them! Another winner Sally 🙂

  6. Incredible! I put the whole mixture into a cake tin. It cooked very quickly, in about 20 minutes. Tasted amazing.

  7. Yum!! Thanks for sharing something bright + cheerful in these times! I love that this is all basic ingredients – we have an abundance of lemons to use up so this was perfect. The only thing we didn’t have was 6 ramekins (we only had 2) but I got 6 ramekins and made these tonight. I was a bit worried because my cakes came out quite dark on the top but they tasted amazing. So lemony!! I will certainly make these again – especially when you can have visitors again! My lemon-loving brother would obsess over these 🙂 a couple of the cakes didn’t have a lot of pudding on the bottom, but they still tasted amazing so it wasn’t a big deal. All of my taste testers were happy!

  8. Prerna Nikesh says:

    As always I was so excited to try your new recipe. However, found this tastes too much like plain lemon curd. Too strong for me. Can I reduce the amount of lemon juice?How much do you suggest I reduce to still get the custard at the bottom with cake on top?
    Thanks,
    Prerna

    1. Hi Prerna! These are certainly flavorful. Feel free to replace some of the lemon juice with milk depending on however much/little lemon flavor you’d like.

  9. Prerna Nikesh says:

    Thanks so much for your reply Sally. Can’t wait to give it a go again.
    Cheers,
    Prerna.

  10. Emily Nixon says:

    Hi Sally!
    I have a bunch of extra oranges around. Do you think this would work with oranges?
    Thank you!
    Emily

    1. Definitely! You may want to slightly reduce the sugar, but I haven’t tested anything.

  11. Hi Sally! You had me at lemon! Anything lemon is my weakness. I can’t wait to make this recipe, but I was wondering if you could tell me what that chicken gadget is on your bowl and where can I get one? I’m assuming it’s for cracking one egg at a time, but not sure how I would look it up to find one!
    Thanks so much…

    1. Hi Jamie, it’s an egg separator. I found it on Amazon. It’s inexpensive and so handy: https://www.amazon.com/MSC-International-Yolky-96035-Separator/dp/B000GLRF2O/

  12. Judy Duffield-Smith says:

    I had some oranges I wanted to use, so I substituted orange juice and peel for the lemon. It came out perfect. A mild orange taste, quite tasty, creamy.

  13. Can you double this recipe?

    1. I recommend making two separate batches of batter instead of doubling. You risk over-mixing those fluffy egg whites into the batter if you work with too much at a time.

  14. Hi Sally,
    I made these today with Bob’s red mill 1to 1 gluten free baking flour. I can not compare it to the receipe made with flour but I must say they turned out so nicely and I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t help but eat two. Thank you so much.

  15. Awesome recipe! I made these for my mom’s birthday, and everyone loved them. I served them warm per her request, but had a few cold ones left over, and some people preferred the cold ones. Both warm and cold were great, though.

  16. Absolutely love it. I was obsessed with making this recipe when I saw it, and it did not disappoint. It came out exactly as expected. My children, as it turned out, are not the lemon fans that I am. For them — and face it, for me, too! 🙂 — I’d like to start building on lessons learned from this recipe to make a chocolate version.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Sam! Have you tried my chocolate lava cakes yet?

      1. I have not, but I sure will! Thanks!

  17. So light, bright tasting, and tasty! It also came together so quickly. I modified it to fit our family of four: halved the recipe and baked in four 7oz ramekins (all I had). With less batter per ramekin and larger ramekins, I wasn’t sure about the baking time. I set a timer for 25min, checked on them and took them out at about 22.5min. They turned out great, and had the pudding layer, but I would try to take them out even a little earlier. Kids and husband approved.

  18. Just made this tonight. Oh my gosh, it is incredible! Perfect balance of tart and sweet. And easy to make too. Definitely something I will be making in the future. Thanks Sally, for another great recipe.

  19. Dear Sally,

    Cannot thank you enough for your wonderful recipes. I am a novice to baking and cooking. But the way you explain things in detail makes it easy for me bake … And tada!!! almost all your recipes come out great!

    I tried this recipe with Lime. I used 80 ml lime and 1 tsp of zest. I substituted rest of the lime quantity with milk. My limes are very sour so i think it is good to use 60 ml next time.. so it gives a nice delicate flavor.

    regards
    sindhu

  20. I made this today in a square pan ,it was delicious ! My family loved it !

    1. Claire Wilkinson says:

      Hi Sally,
      Is there a way of halving this recipe as there are only 2 of us and since you don’t recommend freezing them I would love to be able to make them for me and my fiance. Thanks Claire

  21. I made this recipe the other day and they turned out fantastic! I love lemon desserts. Thanks for sharing.

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