Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake

My grandma had a serious sweet tooth – or “sweet toot,” she’d say with her endearing whisper of a French accent. My mother’s mother’s maiden name was Dion. Her father anglicized it to “DiYoung” in the days when being Acadian inferred inferiority. She was one of eighteen children born to a French-Catholic family, and she was a wonderful grandmother.

I’ll always remember the way grandma would use a small spoon to firmly pack my ice cream into the very bottom of the cone. It made no difference to me that the ice cream was freezer burnt, the flavour was Grape Nuts and the cone was stale. All my knotty-haired elementary-school self tasted was love.

In her later years, grandma was half-deaf and sometimes confused. My grandpa kept a pet cockatiel who was notorious for escaping the confines of its cage. One day, my grandma was in the kitchen satisfying her “sweet toot” when Chicklet escaped.

afterglow (5)

My mom, my sister and I were shrieking and diving all over the place trying to trap it under towels whenever it landed. Grandma was enjoying her afternoon tea in peace, oblivious to the commotion in the next room.

After ten minutes of unsuccessful towel-trapping, the bird had worked itself into a freedom frenzy. He tore all over the living room airspace, squawking hysterically, until the furniture was well-splotched with bird crap, and we – his weary, would-be captors – were exasperated and sweaty. A scream or crash must have beckoned grandma from her cake when she eventually emerged from the kitchen, fork still in hand.

The towels had been abandoned. As the cockatiel happily swooped and dived over our heads, thrilled at evading capture, we resorted to standing still with our hands in the air, breathlessly pleading with him in syrupy-sweet voices to come perch on our outstretched palms.

“What’s going on?” grandma implored, aware of the chaos but still seemingly oblivious to the squawking and feathers flying.

“CATCH THE BIRD!” my mom shouted as he soared over our heads toward the kitchen doorway where grandma stood, bewildered.

As he flapped over each of us, our hands sprang up in hope. At this point, grandma seemed to half-catch the drift of what was going on. So when poor Chicklet zipped over her, she mimicked our actions…

I can still see her wrinkled, thin arm shoot straight up with amazing timeliness…


We all slapped our faces and shrieked, “NOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

Frozen in a unified scream, we watched in slow motion….

… as Grandma came thisclose to the mid-flight skewering of our beloved Chicklet.

The bird, acutely aware of his near-forking, made a hasty retreat to his cage, emitting indignant squawks over the violent loss of a tail-feather.

With relief we dissolved into giggles on the floor until tears streamed down our faces.

Lemon Pudding Cake

Today, I share with you my dear grandmother’s recipe, and I remember her with tears of laughter and love.

I honestly think this puckersome, saucy “lemon sponge” (as she called it) is my favourite dessert. I admit that might change – my food-loves are fickle (especially these days…) . But right now, I am unequivocally enamored with grandma’s Lemon Pudding Cake.

With only three tablespoons of flour and one tablespoon of butter, it is incredibly light – yet seductively luscious. Egg whites are beaten into soft peaks and folded into a yolk-y lemon base. The dessert is baked in a water bath, and when it emerges, a pillowy sponge-cake topping sits atop a creamy, tart pudding.

I made it for a friend’s dinner party last night for the first time in years. Five people devoured it with five spoons, no bowls. A wildly impressive self-control is all that is keeping me from making it again today, for just me.

The only change I made from grandma’s version is a slight decrease in sugar and boost in lemon – my “toot” isn’t quite as sweet as hers.

P.S. I don’t think Chicklet ever flew the coop again after the attempted spearing. Nor did he ever forgive poor grandma.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Lemon Pudding Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced (you should get about 1 tbsp zest and ¼-1/3 cup juice)
  • 1 cup milk
  • Icing sugar for dusting, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Set a kettle full of water to boil.
  2. In a standing mixer, beat butter with sugar until fully incorporated, then add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat in egg yolks followed by lemon zest, lemon juice and milk.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  4. Use a spatula to gently fold the beaten whites into the lemon mixture until just incorporated (it will still have a slightly curdled look). Scrape the batter into a 1½ quart (1.5 L) baking dish (an 8x8 inch glass dish works).
  5. Create a water bath by setting this dish into a larger baking pan, pouring hot water into the larger pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake about 55 minutes, or until top of cake is set. Cool dish on top of a wire rack. Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar if desired.




  • http://twitter.com/wvanillasugar Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Such a fabulous cake. I haven’t tried a pudding cake, but if it’s a Grandma recipe I’m totally in!!

    • foodess

      You’ll love it :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/lacherifa Olga Amado

    Sweet and nice story :-) I will try the pudding as if it came from my own Grandma!!

    • foodess

      Thanks Olga! Yes, Grandma recipes are special aren’t they?

  • Sue@the view from Great Island

    I am making this as soon as I can go grab a few lemons! I can’t get the image of poor Chicklet in full freedom frenzy out of my mind!

    • foodess

      Let me know how you like it!! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/cooking.melangery Yelena Strokin

    Looks so moist and delicious. I have a few lemons, so will give a try-)) Thank you for recipe.

    • foodess

      You’re welcome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cooking.melangery Yelena Strokin

    I made it for a dinner tonight, it was outstanding!!!!! The best lemon dessert I ever eat ! Thank you so much and I love you granny! I never had grandmother, you are so lucky! Have a wonderful weekend-)

    • foodess

      I’m so happy to hear it! A wonderful weekend to you, too!! :)

  • Misha

    I made this for a dinner party last night and it was fabulous! Really light cake, and delicious baked-in sauce. Everyone RAVED! Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe … and funny story about grandma :)

    • foodess

      You’re so welcome!! I’m thrilled that your guests enjoyed it.

  • Allie

    This recipe looks delicious, have been making lots of lemon bars recently but I need a change and this seems to be perfect.

    Allie from Urban Feast


    • foodess

      Mmm I love me a lemon bar, too… but this is a nice and light alternative!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kdeneau1 Karen Deneau

    I made the lemon pudding cake on the weekend, and it was lick the plate yummy! I used Gluten free flour, and the sauce didn’t thicken. Next time I will try corn starch instead.

    • foodess

      Hi Karen! Glad it was lick-the-plate yummy even though it didn’t thicken! It is quite a thin sauce anyway (not chocolate pudding thick).

      • http://www.facebook.com/kdeneau1 Karen Deneau

        Thanks for the info for next time I make it!

  • http://twitter.com/TheSpicedLife Laura T

    I LOVE grandma stories! And anything lemon. Thanks for sharing.

    • foodess

      Grandmas are the best :) Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.facebook.com/colleen.reich.56 Colleen Reich

    I’ve been thinking about my Mom lately and remember this cake. I have been looking for the recipe, thank you so much

  • Nicole

    We just made this for a little dessert! Absolutely delicious, and quick to make….i’m on my second helping!! I’m not sure that there will be any left for tomorrow!

    • foodess

      Glad you like!! I never have leftovers either, if it makes you feel better… ;-)

  • Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche

    Oh wow, this looks incredible. I’m not too great at baking – perhaps I’ll have more luck with pudding cake than I do with normal cake?

    • foodess

      I think this one is a pretty safe bet!! Good luck :)

  • Kankana

    I made the pudding today and this might just be my absolute fav and something I would pass on to my family and friends for sure. It’s absolute yum. Creamy tangy and we loved it :)

    • foodess

      Makes me SO happy to hear!! Thank you so much for coming back to comment :)

      • Kankana

        I couldn’t resist and did a photo shoot and planning to blog about the recipe soon :)

  • Pauline

    O Jen, this brought tears to my eyes…I did not know U had Mummy’s recipe for this wonderful pudding cake! Imagine my surprise to find it on your site..I was so excited I made it for company over the weekend, and it was a hit- they told me it is the best version of this recipe ever!
    Keep the ‘grandma’ recipes coming- I missed out on many of her recipes because I traveled so much. Thank U again. Next time I will make the whole recipe for myself and eat the whole thing! :-)
    Much love, God bless
    Aunt Pauline

    • foodess

      Glad you enjoyed it, too, in Grandma’s honour. Love you too!

  • fleurs13

    This was sooo delicious. I was craving something with lemon. Wow did this do the trick. My husband and I really enjoyed it. I made it in a premade graham pie crust…which made the crust a little soggy at bottom (but still soo yummy:) Thanks Foodess!!

    • foodess

      You’re welcome!! Glad you enjoyed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/erin.hess2 Erin Hess

    Your story is vivid and hilarious! Thank you for the laughs. The pudding looks delicious.

    • foodess

      Thanks Erin :)

  • BrownEyedGirl

    I absolutely adored your story. It brings back feelings of nostalgia for my own grandparents. :) Our cake just came out of the oven, looks and smells divine! Can’t wait to try it!! Thank you for sharing!

    • foodess

      Hope you enjoy it as much as grandma and I! :)

  • Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

    Hehe! Poor Chicklet!

    Grape Nuts flavoured ice cream? I’m so confused … ! This lemon pudding cake, however, looks absolutely perfect – creamy, tangy, airy – mmm. Adding it to my must-makes, Jenn! xo

    • http://www.foodess.com Jennifer Pallian

      Haha I know, world’s most boring ice cream flavour! I’m glad it’s isolated to the wacky maritime provinces :)