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« Grapefruit Margaritas | Main | Lavender Lemon Shortbread »

Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake

Cake is synonymous with joy, laughter, and togetherness. While warm cookies may accompany an afternoon snack or ice cream may be a treat for a weekend celebration, cake is for the moments we want to remember, the milestones we want to imprint on our minds and hearts. A frosted cake rests on a kitchen table, dotted with glowing candles and melted wax, as everyone gathers to sing a spirited, off-key version of Happy Birthday to the guest of honor. Towering cakes are sliced by a bride and groom as they feed each other their first mouthfuls as husband and wife. Cake celebrates life, marking the passing of another year. Cake is a representation of love, of hopefulness and togetherness.

Cake is served on the best days of your life.

Lemon Pudding Cake

There are two cakes that have etched themselves so thoroughly on my heart, that are entwined so deeply in my memories, I am certain I could not forget their taste if I lived for a thousand years.

The first of the cakes is chocolate glazed banana cake. It is a simple cake, no frills or fuss, but somewhere between the ripe bananas and rich glaze there is the feeling of home. My mother would unexpectedly make this cake for my sister and me during the heat of summer. After playing outside in the sun, our faces pink and our lungs breathing quick, we would bound inside and smell this cake in the oven, which spiraled out scents that made our mouths water. There was no rhyme or reason to when my mother would make this cake, which made the moment of discovery that much more prized. My father kept the cake in the refrigerator, cutting out cold pieces for his daughters to enjoy after a long summer's day.

Lemon Pudding Cake

The second cake is one my mother has made over a dozen times. Since I was very young, I would insist on having strawberry shortcake drizzled in chocolate syrup for each and every birthday. The night before my big day, I would stay up late to watch my mother prepare the cake from scratch, mesmerized by the mixer as it beat egg whites into a flurry. As soon as she placed the cake in the oven, she would send me off to bed to have sweet, strawberry-filled dreams. I adored this cake then and I adore it now. I cannot imagine a birthday passing without digging into a big slice.

While there are very few cakes that insert their way into my heart like these two cakes have, this Lemon Pudding Cake may soon become one of them. I already have plans to make this cake for my citrus-loving mother as soon as Mother's Day rolls around.

Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake has a bold, tart lemon flavor with an unexpected texture. The cake is primarily a mixture of milk and freshly squeezed lemon juice (with a tad of butter and a touch of flour), folded together with whipped egg whites. While it bakes, the cake separates into two distinct layers. The top of the cake bakes up like a souffle and the bottom develops into a glorious lemon pudding. The varied textures and bright citrus taste turn this simple, unremarkable looking cake into one that will forever remain etched in your heart.

One Year Ago: Butternut Squash Spinach Tart
Two Years Ago: Cinnamon Sugar Toast

Lemon Pudding Cake
Adapted loosely from Foodess

Yields 9-inch cake

3 tablespoons (43 grams) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (170 grams) granulated sugar, divided
2-3 fresh lemons, zested and juiced (about 1 tablespoon zest and 1/2 cup juice)
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup (235 ml) milk
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 quarts (about 2 liters) boiling water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch round baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks one at a time, beating between each addition. Mix in the flour, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the lemon juice and milk. The batter will be very runny. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add in the cream of tartar and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Mix 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake batter until completely mixed. Fold in the remaining egg whites.

Transfer batter into the prepared baking dish (the cake will not rise so it is okay to fill the dish to the top, if necessary). Place the baking dish into a larger baking or roasting dish and add boiling water in the large dish until it reaches halfway up the outside of the batter-filled pan. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top becomes golden and the middle of the cake barely jiggles when shaken.

Cool the cake for 45 minutes to 1 hour before cutting or serving to allow the cake to set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Reader Comments (31)

I adore cake, lemon, and desserts that create their own sauce, this sounds simply divine! My mother made a sour cream chocolate cake for every birthday (for everyone!) for as long as I can remember, that cake still tastes like love :)
03.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJJ - 84thand3rd
I'm so happy grandma's cake wiggled its way into your heart!! Your version is beautiful.
03.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFoodess
"Cake is served on the best days of your life." I had never thought about it like that but couldn't agree more! Beautiful recipe and photography!
This cake is beautiful. Saved and in my to-make pile. Do you think it would work if made in individual ramekins instead of as a whole cake?
I believe I saw the original version of this cake and it's been in the back of my mind ever since. Yours looks soooo good with that crackled top!
This looks just as scrumptious as the one my Mum makes from her worn out Betty Crocker cookbook. Can't wait to try your version, we're big fans of lemon anything in our house :)
Your quotes alongside the photos - simply perfect. I look forward to reading your blog and wondering what quotes you will use and how they will pair wonderfully with the dish you created. Don't stop. Ever.
And the lemon cake...delish!
03.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMallory
Delicious cake and beautifully written! I love the combo of pudding and cake. A festive surprise!
Oh my god, what a gorgeous cake this is. You've done it again — beautiful pictures, writing, and recipe. Can't wait to try it for myself!
Is this the same as Lemon Delicious? In that case, *this* is the pudding my mother made all the time when we were children, this plus Lemon Meringue pie (we had two lemon trees in our yard). I have to agree it's a keeper
03.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh
That quote from Julia Glass is beautiful. I love cake, sadly I have had some pretty bad cakes in my life time :(

This lemon pudding cake looks both beautiful and delicious! I will certainly be making this for my mom on mother's day since she loves all things lemon. <3
If cake is served on the best days of our lives, then perhaps we should eat cake every day for it to be best? I know, I wouldn't mind! :)
03.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGourmantine
I've never met a lemon dessert I didn't like. This looks incredible!
Your photos are just beautiful, and this cake looks amazing! I can't wait to try the recipe!
03.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCateyLou
I love lemon desserts, one of my favorites is a baked Greek lemon custard, galaktoboureko. After it's taken out of the oven it's soaked in a lemon syrup. Just delicious. It sounds very similar to this wonderful pudding, your mother was a talented cook :)
Ellie-- You could absolutely cook this cake into individual ramekins. The baking time will change, so watch them closely and take them out once the tops begin browning.
03.4.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
gorgeous photos, my mouth is watering as i read this post! and how true and proverbial that cake is served on the best days of your life! thank you for sharing!
Oh my gosh! This looks u-mazing! Thanks for sharing! I want to make this now, now, NOW! X
03.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJojo
Hi Kristin,

I made this last night and while I didn't dig into it then, I plan to when I get home from work! I did have to bake it a little longer than 60 minutes--more like 70-75. It was getting browned on top but still very giggly.

My only problem is that after it cooled, it looks like one side is more set while the other side has a more runny/liquidy consistency. I'm not sure what I could have done wrong--but I can't wait to taste it regardless!
03.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
Stephanie-- I believe it cooked more on one side than the other because your oven is heating irregularly. Perhaps it has a hot spot in one location or is warmer in the back than the front? I know certain parts of my oven are prone to this too. Rotating it while it bakes can help it bake more evenly.
03.8.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Oh yum this looks so good, lemon pudding cake sounds absolutely divine!
Looks and sounds delicious!
I love what you wrote about cake because it's so true. Black Forest Cake is my traditional birthday cake and it's one my mother has made fore me countless times. And then there's apple cake, it's an old family favourite that has been made for so long.
03.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn
hola lo primero felicitarle por todo su trabajo es todo divino de veras y me tiene muy fascinada lo que es toda la fotografía que tiene colgada con cada plato me gustaría saber algo mas de su fotografía pues me parece fascinante gracias por su atención
03.10.2013 | Unregistered Commenterconchy
Fantastic quote - I just gained a whole new respect for cake. :) This pudding cake looks incredible.
03.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlanna
Made for our neighborhood Friday night Happy Hour..everyone loved it. I served a small dish of homemade strawberry jam on the side..a dollop of it on top was a perfect accompaniment . Thanks for the good recipe.
03.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLola
I made this for the first time and it did need a lot more oven time to get it that lovely colour on top but it's absolutely delicious, though I wouldn't ever call it a cake. Mine wouldn't have been able to be sliced but it is definitely a fabulous pudding and we'll be eating this again. Thank you.
04.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnnella
Thank you so much for this beautiful recipe - I made it yesterday for a tea party and it was the star of the show.
04.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiana
I made this a few months back and I can still vividly remember the refreshing burst of citrus-y goodness in my mouth! Sour, but yet sweet in a comforting way. Accompanied by the 2 different textures, this cake has now become one of my comfort foods! Love this recipe!
05.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLynn
this cake looks a citrus cake lover too esp lemon cakes, so definitely on my priority list :). Could you also suggest an alternative to cream of tartar? i dont get it close to my place?
06.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeera
This cake looks absolutely divine and beautiful. Your photography is stunning and makes me look at food in a whole different light. I can't wait to try this cake and I'm sure my family will be delighted as well when I make the attempt.
08.14.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Joseph
This sounds utterly heavenly! I'm mad about lemons and citrussy flavours, and the fact that you say it has a "bold, tart lemon flavour" has me sold. The textures sound incredible as well. Can't wait to try this out. Thank you for sharing!
04.3.2014 | Unregistered Commenterfathima

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