Lemon pudding cakes: sweet, sweet magic


All right, Harry Potter fans, what was Dumbledore’s password to his office in the very first book? Got it? All together now…

“Lemon drop!”

Later in the series he also uses “sherbet lemon” as a password to his private sanctuary. In my mind both lemon drops and lemon sherbet evoke images of crispness, clarity, and energy, just right for a brilliant mind.

Picture it yourself. I don’t think anyone ever eats a lemon Popsicle to feel mellow. No one chooses lemon shaved ice to get that warm pajama feeling. Instead we eat lemon pie to feel refreshed and exhilarated in the heat of summer. Bake sale superstar, the lemon square makes us feel a bit like school kids again, full of vim and vigor. Even a lemon wedge in our water makes us feel like we’re healthier.

Now, I won’t lead you down the garden path and claim that our delightful Lemon Pudding Cakes are health food but I will say that the perky lemon flavor can do wonders for your spirits.

Pucker up, we’re going to make Lemon Pudding Cakes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease 6 heatproof ramekins or silicone baking cups.

In a large bowl, place all of your dry ingredients:

• 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) Lemon Bits
• 2 tablespoons lemon powder
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons buttermilk powder

As you can see, if you give each ingredient its own separate place in the bowl, you’ll be able to tell at a glance what’s in and what’s not.

You can leave the lemon bits out of the recipe, or try using lemon chips if you can find them locally. The lemon flavor won’t be as pronounced, though.

You know how much I love ya, so I’ll be honest. There isn’t really a good way to make these cakes without the lemon powder. If there was, I’d let you know but in all honesty it’s the lemon bits and lemon powder that give these cakes their pucker and zest (no pun intended).

In a separate bowl, combine your wet ingredients:

• 4 tablespoons melted butter
• 2 large eggs
• 1/3 cup milk

Add all at once to the dry ingredients. I would recommend warming the milk slightly to prevent your butter from solidifying as mine did.

Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together until moist. The batter will not completely smooth out because of the lemon bits.

Scoop the batter into 6 ramekins or other small oven-safe bakers. I used a variety of different bakers here. The red bakers in the center were marked as 2 cups while the others were marked as 1 1/2.

It’s important to keep in mind that those measures are for the full to the brim capacity,  not necessarily  the bakeable capacity of the dish.  For 1-cup bakeable capacity, you’ll need a baker labeled at least 1 1/2 cups.

If you’d like to bake the cake as one pudding cake, you certainly can. PJ tested the recipe in a 9″ round and it works beautifully. Just serve straight from the pan, don’t try to invert it for serving.

You’ll notice that the cake base will puff up as you work with it. The acidity of the lemon will really make the baking powder go to town.

Next, whisk together the sauce ingredients.
• 1 1/2 cups hot water
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
• 3 tablespoons lemon powder
• 1/2 cup sugar

It’s helpful to do this in a large measuring cup with a spout so you can pour the sauce right onto each cake easily.

Dividing the sauce evenly among the 6 cups, pour the sauce over the unbaked cakes.

I usually make one round, pouring some into each cup, then let it settle a bit. Then go back and touch up each one with a bit more sauce until all of the sauce has been used.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and put into your preheated 350°F oven. The cakes are done when the top is lightly browned and begins to pull away from the edge of the pan slightly.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, you can either serve individual portions in the baker for a sauce-on-the-bottom experience, or you can turn out each cake onto a plate for a sauce-on-the-top treat.

To turn out the cakes, choose a plate that’s large enough and has a slight lip to rein in the warm sauce. Run a flexible knife or spatula around the edge of the cake and invert it onto the plate. Remove the baker and scoop any extra sauce out onto the top of the cake.

Garnish with a touch of lemon peel or grated zest and serve warm. A little dollop of whipped cream provides a nice counterpoint to the perky, lemon-y sauce.

Remember, the scent of citrus is a mood lifter. So, if winter is still getting your goat, or if spring has already sprung and brought you mud and blackflies, make a batch of these heavenly scented cakes and breathe in the goodness.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Lemon Pudding Cakes

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. "sandra Alicante"

    You had me going for a minute, I thought ‘Ah ha! Another recipe to use the lemons I’ve just picked.’ Then I looked at the recipe and not a real lemon in sight!

    I expect this will be very similar in taste to Magic Lemon Pudding. I will have to dig out my recipe as I haven’t made one for years but now I am hankering for one!

  2. "Just One Donna"

    You had me at lemon! Boy oh boy, lemon and spring just go together for me. I’d make this today but for lack of the lemon powder and buttermilk powder. I’m off to the King Arthur store to check those out. I made a lemon yogurt cake this week that seems like it would be similar, but pudding cakes are the bomb! Love them. Here’s the link if you’d like to check out the cake, http://www.justonedonna.com/2011/04/lemon-yogurt-cake.html.
    Donna thank you for sharing your recipe with us. Beautiful cake! ~Amy

  3. mjvermont

    Oh how I wish this post was made a few days ago! My latest order just arrived and if I place another order to get the wonderful ingredients for these cakes my husband is going to take away my credit card rights! There is nothing like lemon anything this time of year. Do luscious lemon pudding cakes trump the budget?!
    Maybe, just maybe you can talk him into it or trade lemon cakes for a trip to the fishing lure aisle? Good luck!
    ~ MaryJane

  4. pascalepoitras

    Would this work with lemon juice and lemon zest? I prefer to use natural ingredients instead of powders and bits. Any input would be great. Sounds so delicious an I have so many lemons to use up!
    Sorry, we haven’t tried this with lemon juice. The powder is freeze-dried natural lemon juice and lemon oil, so it’s much more concentrated lemon flavor. You’d have to play around with the recipe to see if you could substitute. ~ MaryJane

  5. kstegman

    oooh! I have lemon powder for cookies and muffins that I like to bake (though I haven’t in a while, hm…), and I just recently got the lemon bits. Now if I can just cram some time in tomorrow! Now, my hubby is a big fan of orange – I suppose I could do the same recipe with orange powder and I have some orange chips. Maybe even garnish with something chocolate?
    Yum! A drizzle of chocolate on an orange version of this recipe sounds perfect! ~Amy

  6. fhodges52

    I love lemon and can’t wait to make these. As a child, I remember my mother making a lemon cake with a pudding at the bottom and it was awesome. It was probably a box mix. Where did you get the cute yellow bowls? Does KAF sell them? I love KAF and wish can’t wait for y’all to come to Virginia again for a cooking class. Happy Spring!
    Hi there,
    You’ll find lots of the polka dot bakers here. Be sure to check the education pages for the traveling demo schedules, hope to see you soon too.
    ~ MaryJane

  7. maccourt

    This is so maddeing…it seems I always have everything but ONE ingredient! In this case, I actually have the lemon powder, but not the bits. I’m wondering…if I substitute the missing bits with a drop or two of lemon oil (which I also have), would I get the lemon punch that will be missing without the bits?
    Yes, you’ll get a pleasant punch with a couple of drops of lemon oil. I think the only thing you’d miss is the little pockets of lemon-y goodness that the bits provide. ~ MaryJane

  8. gypsybaker

    I actually have the lemon bits (from my most recent order) but not the lemon powder. I DO, however, have lime powder (so I can make those yummy little lime cookies). If I used that in place of the lemon powder, any idea what the result would taste like?
    Personally, I think it would be yummy and bright and citrus-y. Let us know what you think. ~ MaryJane

  9. jackieborn

    Could you make these the day before you want to serve them? Would you take them out of the ramekins on the day that you make them?
    You could make them the day before and store in the ramekins in the fridge overnight. Briefly re-heat in the microwave before serving. ~ MaryJane

  10. ithey

    Has anyone out there tried this recipe with lemon zest, lemon juice and liquid buttermilk. If so I would love to know how they turned out. I would love to try this delicious-looking recipe but don’t have those ingredients. I’ll be trekking up to KAF on May 1st for a class so maybe I will pick up the ingredients then. But I really would love to make them before that. Thanks.

    We didn’t try this recipe with fresh fruit or lemon juice – so we’d love to hear about your experimentation. We’re sure other bakers would benefit from your experience if you post your results. Enjoy the journey – Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  11. eleyana

    Oh, so not fair. I adore lemon pudding cakes. I’d have to fiddle with the recipe though, because your lemon powder and bits are full of corn syrup and corn derivatives and my DD is allergic to corn. :( I do have a finely powdered pure lemon peel I could try and maybe add some lemon oil or juice and use candied lemon peel for the bits. Is citric acid salty or just puckery?

    Citric Acid is going to only add Pucker. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  12. poppyquattlebaum

    Could you use the mini cheesecake pan for these, probably making several more, or would they not come out of the pans because the sauce would stick on the bottom?
    Sure, I think the cheesecake pans would be fine to use. ~Amy

  13. "susantaylor52@aol.com"

    I don’t understand why people cannot understand this is King Arthur Flour’s site of course they are going to feature their own products. If they don’t there would be complaining that KAF doesn’t show us how to use the products in recipes!
    I think they do a very good job, and this blog does keep the bakers on their toes! So kudos to all.

  14. 9outlier


    I too wanted to use fresh lemons from my tree, so I’m disappointed that alternatives aren’t given for your recipe. However, this one looks promising. I use your flour, but I rarely use other processed foods and “flavorings.” I would think that substituting lemon zest and juice will provide plenty of citrus zing. I recently baked a Meyer lemon bundt cake and used zest and fresh-squeezed juice in the cake and the frosting.
    Delicious! My husband raved about it :)

  15. littletots

    i don’t yet have the ramekins to bake these individually. Could you use a large 6 cup muffin tin?

    Don’t see why not – that should work just fine, as long as the muffin tin wells are about the same size as the ramekins called for. Don’t overfill, OK? You don’t want any bubble-overs… Enjoy – PJH


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