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.
With sunshine, warmer days, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and summertime on the horizon, these fresh and delicious lemon cakes are a dessert favorite.
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 chocolate lava cakes in both presentation and texture, the lemon pudding cakes are perfectly packaged in their own pre-portioned cup. It’s how we serve upside down key lime pies, too. I love that! This is such a fun and unique recipe that has always been a baking bucket list recipe for me.
Here’s Why You Need These Ingredients
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.
Overview: How to Make Lemon Pudding Cakes
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Carefully fold everything together.
- 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.)
- Add water for water bath. Without splashing into the ramekins, slowly pour hot water into the casserole dish around the ramekins.
- 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.
- Slightly cool the cakes outside of the water bath.
- Garnish & dig in! A dusting of confectioners’ sugar hits the spot.
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.
Here we have the egg yolk mixture. Carefully begin adding the fluffy egg whites.
After gently folding in the egg whites, the cake batter has nearly tripled in volume. It should be foamy, creamy, and smooth:
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.
3 Success Tips
- 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.
- 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, individual key lime pies, artisan bread, and crème brûlée.
- 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!Print
Lemon Pudding Cakes
- 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
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.
- 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 (spooned & 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Garnish with confectioners’ sugar and/or fresh berries or lemon slices, if desired.
- Cover leftover cakes tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Warm in the microwave, if desired, before enjoying.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 6-ounce Oven-Safe Ramekins | Large Baking Pan | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Cooling Rack
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 pudding cakes, pudding cake
Reader Comments & Reviews
Can I do the recipe with limes or key limes instead of lemon
Can you make it with buttermilk instead? Also can we do it in a casserole dish??
Hi Sarah! See recipe notes: 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. Buttermilk will be a bit too thick, it is best to stick with whole milk here.
I loved making this and it had a delicious tart flavor, wonderful directions!
This one is a crowd pleaser! One request was for the bottom to be less pudding-y and more like a custard. Any thoughts on how to update this recipe to accommodate that? Or, would that be a completely different recipe?
Hi Sam, we would search for a lemon custard recipe instead! Let us know if you find one you love.
Made these last week, and again today. We like them tart so cut down a bit on the sugar. A real Family favourite.
Can I use parchment muffin pan liners for these?
Hi Ginny, these pudding cakes should be baked right in the ramekins.