Warm Lemon Pudding Cake (gluten free, or not!)

Warm lemon puddings on a baking sheet with blueberries

My Flourless Warm Lemon Pudding Cake is downright magical ~ it’s an easy self-saucing lemon sponge cake dessert that bakes up with a fluffy cake layer and a tangy pudding layer. Don’t miss this unique recipe!

flourless warm lemon pudding cakes on a baking sheet with lemons and blueberries

Warm lemon pudding cake is the ultimate mid winter dessert!

January and February are filled with lemony recipes in our house. We’re blessed with a lemon tree in the back yard, and although ours is nearing the end of its days, it’s in peak season right now. All over the valley you can see bright orange and yellow dotted citrus trees in front and back yards. It’s the best time of year in LA 🙂

And of course there are always supermarket lemons, so much cheaper and juicier right now than any other time of the year. Our kitchen counters are littered with them. I’ll be slicing them thinly to make a bed for healthy baked fish, whisking their juice into creamy sauces, making vinaigrettes, and of course, lemony cakes,  curds, and all kinds of tangy desserts.

lemons, blueberries, and powdered sugar for a flourless warm lemon pudding cake recipe

The history of warm lemon pudding cake~

Is it a cake? A pudding? A soufflé? Warm lemon pudding cake, aka lemon delicious pudding, lemon lava cake, lemon magic cake, or self-saucing lemon cake, is a homey dessert that’s actually been around for a long time; similar recipes can be traced all the way back to colonial New England, and hot puddings and pudding sauces commanded entire chapters in early cookbooks like Fanny Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook Book. (Back then the term pudding was borrowed from the British and meant dessert, generally, not what we think of today as pudding.)

This lemon pudding  is made with beaten egg whites folded into the batter so that it bakes up like a fluffy sponge or soufflé, but ‘magically’ forms a tart lemon sauce at the bottom. The recipe calls for a very small amount of flour, so it’s easy to make it gluten free using almond meal or another gf flour like oat.

Ladling batter into baking cups for a flourless warm lemon pudding cake

Once the egg whites are folded into the batter you can ladle it into buttered oven-safe bowls. You can also make this in a single casserole dish if you prefer.

Tip: When cooking with a water bath, add the water to the pan before you add the batter to your bowls, this makes it so much less stressful. Put your baking dish on a baking sheet so you can easily transport it to and from the oven with minimal sloshing.

Flourless Warm Lemon Pudding Cake just out of the oven with powdered sugar

This pudding is super tart and tangy, and can hold its own with just a shower of powdered sugar, but I couldn’t resist adding some blueberries to mine. Raspberries would be nice, too.

Note: the little silver spoons I used were my great grandmother’s, and they’re very old coin silver spoons from the 1800s. They’ve been sitting in a drawer for ages, but lately I’ve been enjoying getting out the random silverware that I’ve acquired/inherited over the years and putting it to use. Why let it waste away in a drawer or a box? (I’m working on a post all about it, so if you’re interested, stay tuned.)

flourless warm lemon pudding cakes on a baking sheet with lemons and blueberries

I know you’re craving more lemon ~

Warm lemon puddings on a baking sheet with blueberries
3.31 from 133 votes

Warm Lemon Pudding Cake (gluten free, or not!)

My Flourless Warm Lemon Pudding Cake is ~ this easy self-saucing lemon sponge cake is downright magical.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Calories 185.12kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 heaping Tbsp lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (for gluten free use almond flour)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup cultured buttermilk, shake before measuring
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, this helps stabilize the egg whites


  • powdered sugar
  • berries, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350F Lightly butter 6-8 oven safe bowls, ramekins, or mugs Arrange them in a baking pan or roasting pan with sides. Put a large pot of water on the stove to simmer for your water bath.
  • Cream the soft butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, letting each one get incorporated before adding the next, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Blend in the lemon zest, flour, and salt, then mix in the buttermilk and lemon juice until everything is well combined.
  • Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they hold stiff peaks. Lift your beaters straight upright ~ the whipped whites should hold their points and not flop.
  • Fold the egg whites gently into the batter until no more white streaks or large lumps of egg white remain. Do this gently so you don’t deflate the beaten whites, and be patient, it takes a few minutes.
  • Pour boiling water into your pan with the ramekins to a depth of about halfway up your ramekins.
  • Ladle the batter into each of the bowls, filling almost full. Depending on their size you’ll fill 6-8.
  • Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until the cakes are set on top and not super jiggly. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar and serving. Garnish with berries if you like.
  • Be sure to enjoy it warm!

Cook’s notes

I used small 8 ounce oven safe bowls and filled them each with about 6 ounces of batter. You can use smaller or larger cups, just keep an eye on the baking time.


Calories: 185.12kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.34g | Protein: 3.88g | Fat: 5.02g | Saturated Fat: 2.59g | Sodium: 122.14mg | Fiber: 0.25g | Sugar: 28.25g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    5 stars
    I’m a real foodie and this us one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. Soft, tender, light. Delicious with your choice of fruit any time of year. Surprised this is not a 5 out of 5!

    • Reply
      January 13, 2020 at 7:23 pm

      I’m so glad you loved this Deborah, we loved it so much we keep creating other flavor versions with the basic recipe.

  • Reply
    Alonna Smith
    January 12, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Hi Sue,

    I love your website! Question about this recipe. Do you think that Meyer lemon would be a good swap of lemon?

    Thanks!! Alonna

    • Reply
      January 12, 2020 at 9:15 am

      Yes, for sure, you can use them interchangeably.

  • Reply
    May 24, 2019 at 11:27 am

    do not have cultured buttermilk—what can i use for a substitute? I have homemake yogurt.

    • Reply
      January 20, 2020 at 7:49 pm

      You can use yogurt, or make your own buttermilk using a tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of whole milk, let sit on the counter for 15 minutes and then use.

  • Reply
    Pamela Reid
    April 27, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Sue I have Crohn’s disease and I’ve been on a strict diet for 29 yrs, really it’s a life style now. I can’t eat Sugar, starch, grains and limited milk products. So could I substitute the cup of cultured buttermilk with almond milk? Lemon deserts are so scrumptious, this would be a Grand treat for me.

    • Reply
      April 27, 2019 at 2:35 pm

      I think you should have no trouble with that Pamela, and please let us know your results if you try.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2019 at 5:04 am

    Hi Sue,
    It looks lovely! I don’t have access to Almond meal and oat flour, so was wondering if I could substitute the flour with gluten free plain flour? Thank you!

    • Reply
      April 22, 2019 at 6:44 am

      Yes, you can use regular all purpose flour, too. The amount is small and just there to bind the pudding together.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2019 at 7:20 am

    Loved it it was a huge success. I doubled the recipe. I used a bundt pan.. I had to make the night before and reheated covered it was beautiful.. thanks

    • Reply
      April 21, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Thanks Marcie, I never would have thought to try it in a bundt pan!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 6:17 am

    what size bowls did you use in these photos? my ramekins are 4 oz. is that too small?

    • Reply
      February 22, 2019 at 7:26 am

      I used small bowls that have an 8 ounce capacity if filled right to the rim, and I filled them to about 6 ounces. You can use your smaller ramekins, but the baking time will be shorter, so keep an eye on them.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    These look lovely. Is it possible to make them ahead up to the point of adding the water bath and baking?

    • Reply
      January 26, 2019 at 9:11 pm

      I don’t think that would work well because I’m not sure the whipped egg whites would keep. You could make it up to the point of whipping the whites, then assemble and bake, which would save you some time.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2019 at 3:34 am

    Morning Sue.,
    Do you think a dairy-free milk would work? This recipe looks amazing! I would love to try it, but I am DF as well as GF.

    • Reply
      January 26, 2019 at 7:13 am

      I haven’t tried so I can’t say for sure, but I think so 🙂

  • Reply
    January 25, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    I love lemon desserts! This looks so inviting with fresh berries.

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    January 25, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    You know I can never get enough of lemon desserts! 🙂 This cake sounds like a dream!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    These look amazing!! Perfect remedy for cold winter days!! Could these be made ahead and reheated? If so what would you suggest?

  • Reply
    January 25, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    I think it’s wonderful that you have your great grandmother’s silver and you’re using it! I have nothing from way back, but when I use things of my mother’s, who passed away in 1995, it just thrills me. I am certain that using her silverware would make your great grandmother very happy. Just as I know my mother would be happy that I’m using her things. And thank you for the gluten free recipe! That makes me happy!

    • Reply
      January 26, 2019 at 8:56 am

      Thanks Alene, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the stuff I’ve got packed away that never sees the light of day, and what’s the use of having it if you can’t use and enjoy it?

  • Reply
    January 25, 2019 at 10:47 am

    Can you reheat them once they are cooled and what would be the best method for this? Thanks Sue love your posts!

    • Reply
      January 25, 2019 at 8:25 pm

      These aren’t the best desserts for reheating, Penny, and definitely don’t try the microwave (been there, done that) I guess I would suggest gently reheating in a low oven as a first choice.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2019 at 10:29 am

    You are so very creative ! Bravo Sue and thank you !

  • Reply
    Joy Massa
    January 25, 2019 at 8:43 am

    As I opened your recipe, today, Sue…..Your Latest Video was for a Lemon Buttermilk Loaf and I thought, as I read your recipe for this Lemon Pudding Cake…..What if I made lemon zest sugar for this recipe?! (I wondered if you’ve tried that and what are your thoughts?)

    • Reply
      January 25, 2019 at 9:47 am

      Brilliant idea Joy, you’re one step ahead of me 🙂

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    January 25, 2019 at 8:12 am

    I’ve always wanted to make these little cups of lemon! These are so pretty Sue – and perfect for any occasion. I would lick the bowl clean 🙂

    • Reply
      January 25, 2019 at 8:31 am

      Thanks Tricia 🙂

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