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!

warm lemon pudding cake with blueberries

warm lemon pudding cake is a unique lemon dessert!

Lemon is king here in the Great Island kitchen. I can’t think of any ingredient that features more prominently in my recipes. There is always a big old bowl of them on the counter, and I never leave a supermarket without a fresh supply (stray lemon halves and wedges are never more than an arm’s length away!) I use lemons to make salads, salad dressings, soups, salmon, shrimp, and pasta, but one of my favorite ways to use tangy lemon is in desserts.

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

the delicious 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.)

Warm lemon puddings on a baking sheet with blueberries

what’s in lemon pudding cake

  • lemon ~ using the juice and the flavorful zest.
  • eggs ~ we’ll separate them. The yolks will enrich the pudding layer and the whites will be beaten to form the fluffy top layer.
  • sugar
  • butter
  • flour ~ 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.
  • buttermilk ~ in a pinch you can make a substitute by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to a cup of whole milk. Let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes before using.
  • cream of tartar ~ helps stabilize the beaten egg whites so they don’t deflate

how a pudding cake works

This lemon pudding is made with beaten egg whites folded into the batter so that it bakes up like a fluffy sponge or soufflé. The light egg white layer rises to the top while the thin custard layer magically forms a tart lemon ‘pudding’ at the bottom.

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

serving suggestions

This pudding is super tart and tangy, and can hold its own with just a shower of powdered sugar, or a dollop of whipped cream. But in season berries are a no-brainer. Blueberries give that wonderful color contrast, but raspberries or strawberries would work 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?

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

craving more lemon?

Warm lemon puddings on a baking sheet with blueberries
3.48 from 148 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
Total Time 1 hour 5 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 sugar and soft butter 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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  • 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
    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 9:19 pm

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

  • 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
    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
    January 25, 2019 at 10:29 am

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

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

    5 stars
    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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