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. This is how we serve upside down key lime pies too.

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, individual key lime pies, 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

95 Comments

  1. This recipe looks so good! We have many lemons in the house and this seems like the perfect use for them. I love fluffy cake and pudding so I am really excited to try this. Thanks Sally, always look forward to the day when a new recipe comes out!

    1. I hope you love these, Marcela! Happy baking 🙂

  2. Can’t wait to make these. Thanks Sally these look delicious.

    1. I hope you love them, Tessa!

  3. I have never clicked a recipe this fast! We have so many lemons in our house. I’m gonna make this later!

    1. I’d love to know what you think if you give this recipe a try, Anna!

  4. hi sally!! can fresh blueberries be added without compromising cake structure? thanks 😉

    1. I don’t recommend it. You can use them as a garnish.

  5. Hi Sally, these sound fantastic, but I only have 2 lemons. Do you recommend anything to make up the difference in the 1/2 cup of lemon juice? Supplies are very limited right now. I know it won’t be as “lemony”.

    1. Hi Ileana, I’m unsure without testing alternatives, but you can try extra milk or lime juice, or another juice you enjoy.

      1. Thank you so much for the quick response. I used a bit of fresh pineapple juice. These are fabulous! My husband loved it. Your recipes are always on point.

  6. Hi Sally. There’s just two of us- can I half the recipe. I am willing to forgo my keto diet for this lemony treat!

    1. Definitely– it will get a bit tricky since there are 3 eggs. Let me know how it goes!

  7. Would this still work if I flipped it over like a creme brulee? Also I was just wondering how you make up your own recipes.

    1. Hi Zoe! I’m not sure I know what you mean. I wouldn’t flip these upside-down after baking. For this recipe, I used the Fine Cooking as a starting point. See my note!

      1. I am so sorry! I meant Lava Cake. I saw some pictured flipped on a plate like a lava cake. And thank you so much!

  8. Oh, these look so delicious! I’d love to give these a try this week 🙂 The combination of textures sounds amazing. If I were to bake it in the 9″ square pan, how would I do the water bath, and how long would I bake it for?

    1. I’m unsure, but let me know how it turns out!

  9. Thanks for getting me out of bed early today! I was craving lemons but did not want to make lemon bars. What a sweet surprise seeing this today! About half of them collapsed, not sire if that is normal or a result of something I can fix in the future, still beautiful though.

    1. Hi Jules! I’m so glad you already tried these. I’ve never had them collapse before, but it could be because they were under-baked. Did you use the water bath?

  10. Why is it not good to use half & half

    1. Half-and-half is too heavy for these light cakes.

  11. Could you make these as cupcakes?

    1. I’m sure you could! I haven’t tested it.

  12. Bhavna Saxena says:

    Hi Sally, would love to try this recipe, but unfortunately I don’t have individual ramekins. Can I prepare it as a single cake and what will be the bake time for it? And do you think the recipe needs any tweaking for preparing as a single cake ?

    1. Hi Bhavna! As noted, I’m unsure of the best bake time for the single cake. Let me know how it turns out!

    2. This is very similar to the souffled lemon custard that Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston used to make many years ago. Here’s a recipe with instructions (including timing for a 10-inch cake pan) that I’ve used several times to replicate it: https://recipegoldmine.com/cch/hamersleys-souffled-lemon-custard.html. It’s amazing! I am excited to try this version and make individual ones next.

  13. Hi Sally, I’m so excited to make these! I love lemon desserts! What do you think would happen if I substituted the 3/4 cup of sugar with honey though?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Rina, you need a dry sugar here– do not use liquid sweetener in this cake batter.

  14. Hi Sally! I’ve never baked with a water bath, should the water go to the top of the ramekins? Or slightly below? Thank you, so excited to try these!!

    1. Hi Ashley! About halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Hope you love these!

  15. Delicious! My 12 year old just whipped these up for dessert and they were perfect! Thank you for writing recipes with plenty of detail and clear instructions.

    1. I’m so happy they were a hit! Thanks for your positive feedback, Laura 🙂

  16. Made these today and they were absolutely perfect. I 1/3rd the recipe since it’s just my husband and I. I just 1/3rd all of the weights and it worked out perfectly. I was a little afraid I miscalculated the flour since the batter didn’t seem as thick as I thought it’d be, but they came out perfect. Will definitely be making these again. It had a great lemon flavor without being too sweet.

    1. Love reading this, thanks for your positive feedback Victoria!

  17. Huda Desin says:

    hello, sally!
    I don’t have any ramekins or anything as small as ramekins but I do have a few 8-9 inch pyrex. I don’t know if it would work out. What do u think I should do?

    1. Hi Huda! See my recipe note. Let me know how it turns out!

  18. Hi Sally,
    Where did you purchase the egg separater?

    1. Amazon! I include a link above or you can do a quick internet search of “yolky egg separator.”

  19. I made these last night and they were SO good! Came together pretty easily and were just so delicious. Perfect with a cup of tea!

    1. Thrilled they were a hit, Sarah!

  20. With trees full of Meyer lemons, I am always looking for great options. These little gems were a super easy hit and only a third of a tablespoon of butter per serving! Loved the crunchy topping. I took them out in 30 minutes and had lots of goey pudding underneath. Thank you, Sally for another family favorite. Yum!

    1. What a delicious way to use some of your Meyer lemons! YUM!

  21. This looks like sunshine! I hope you are well. Out of curiosity, in your state is there a flour shortage? Southern California seems to be low on flour. I was just wondering because flour is pretty much the staple of your ‘office’!

    1. It’s been difficult to find flour in a lot of areas, but we were lucky to find 2 bags last week. Let me know if you try these!

  22. These turned out BRILLIANTLY! You totally made me look like a rock star as I delivered them as part of my quarantine care packages today❤️

  23. I LOVE lemon pudding cake. It is one of my favorite desserts. Yours looks delicious with the blueberries i it. I have made lemon pudding cake in individual ramekins and in 1 large pan – it works either way. I prefer the individual ramekins. I have also made it with bottled lemon juice in a pinch and it is still delicious. Yes, fresh lemons are better, but it will work either way.

    1. Hi! When you made it in a pan, did you use a water bath, and do you happen to remember how long it took? Thanks!!

      1. Yes, I did use a water bath.
        Sorry, I don’t remember how long I baked it.

  24. Hi, Sally! I love all of your recipes, and I am so excited about this one!
    Quick question: would you be able to make these in a muffin pan if you do not have enough ramekins?
    Thank you so much, Sally! Peace be with you and your family in these troubling times!

    1. You can certainly try this recipe in a muffin pan set in a shallow water bath. I’m unsure of the best bake time though. Let me know how they turn out!

      1. Took 20 min for me.

  25. Really yummy and easy recipe. I used 2/3 of the recipe, except 10 g less sugar in the egg whites and the original amount of zest.

    Baked these in a 6 muffin tray. The amount of batter was just nice but the top was browning after 20 minutes do I took it out. A tad too lemony (I didn’t reduce the zest) so will follow the recipe next time. Will probably try to reduce the sugar further.

    Yes Thanks for the great recipe! The instructions were very easy to follow.

    1. Just ate the leftovers from yesterday (heated in oven). The cakes do deflate further but still really delicious.

  26. Hi Sally! I made these today (with my 2.5 year old- whew!) for Mother’s Day tomorrow. I plan on covering them and reheating them tomorrow, but will it cause them to over bake? I baked them for 40 minutes since I only had 8oz ramekins. Thanks for so many amazing recipes! You are my go to!!

    1. Hi Rachel, for reheating, microwaving for a super quick 10 seconds should do the trick or heat the oven to 300°F (149°C), place the ramekins on a baking sheet (no water bath needed), and bake for 10 minutes. I would cover them with a large sheet of aluminum foil.

  27. I read that you don’t recommend substitution. I think you are meaning flour, milk, eggs. I’m wondering about limes instead of lemons?

    1. Limes work for a lime pudding cake! A 1:1 substitution for the juice.

  28. We loved this! I have 10oz ramekins, so filled 4 and baked for 40 minutes. Dusted with powder sugar and had raspberries on hand for garnish. The raspberries really set off the delicious lemon flavor. Thanks for sharing this, Sally!

  29. Jen Keller says:

    Looks yummo! Could you cook these with a sous vide? Any idea on a time or temperature?

    1. Hi Jen, I don’t recommend a sous vide for these.

  30. Hello! Would it be possible to use wheat flour instead of plain flour for this recipe? Only because I can’t find plain flour anywhere right now. Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Zahrah, I recommend plain/all-purpose flour. If using whole wheat flour, the cakes will taste dense and may require longer in the oven. If you’re interested, here are all of my recipes using whole wheat flour.

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