Old Fashioned Lemon Pudding Cake

March 12, 2012

Part cake, part souffle, a little bit pudding: this is one of those magical classic recipes.  It’s not original – you can find dozens very much like it in old cookbooks. My mother used to make it from a mix, which says a lot about her because it’s so easy to make from scratch.

What's different abou t my version? I love the taste of lemon, so t's a bit  tangier than most.

Grate the zest from two large lemons, then squeeze the juice.  You should have about half a cup. 

Separate three large eggs. Add the lemon juice and zest to the yolks, then whisk in a cup and a third of milk. Slowly add a half cup of sugar, a dash of salt, and a quarter cup of flour. If you’ve used good eggs it will glow with color.

Beat the whites until they hold soft peaks.  Whisk in a quarter cup of sugar, and beat until the whites turn sleekly glossy and hold a stiff peak when you pull the mixer from the bowl. Whisk a quarter of the whites into the yolk mixture, then gently fold in the rest of the whites. 

Preheat the oven to 350.  Boil some water in a kettle.  You’re going to bake this in a water bath, so you’ll want a large square or rectangular baking dish that is large enough to hold your pie plate and leave a bit of room around it.  Set the empty pan in the oven, put the pudding cake in the center, and carefully pour boiling water all around it, about halfway up, being careful not to splash any into the cake itself. 

Bake for about 45 minutes, until it is puffed and golden.  Remove from the water bath and cool on a rack.  This is best served warm, and you should eat it all; by day two lemon pudding cake loses much of its luster.


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  • I use a similar recipe from Marion Cunningham’s Fanny Farmer book – it’s one of the most reliable recipes I can use at our summer house near Taos – the altitude kills all my cakes! And yes, the tangier the better.

  • OrgasmicChef says:

    With a cake like this there would be leftovers? I don’t think so.

  • Lynn McBride says:

    Now this brings back a memory page. My mother–whose motto was, why cook it if it comes in a can– used to make this. But out of a box, of course. I’ve never thought of making it homemade. The perfect early spring comfort food, especially since the lemons are tumbling off the trees here in the south of France where we’re hanging out for a bit. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • For a water bath, I set the outer pan in the cold oven, fill with 1″ water, then set the cake pan into the water when oven is at temp. Have burned my wrists too many times trying to get hot water into pan already in oven. Forget trying to push in a rack, heavy with hot water, and not splash it on the cake.