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Oct 28, 2010 07:59 PM

Anyone have the Cook's Illustrated Lemon Pudding Cake recipe?

I had this recipe long ago but have lost it since. I see many versions on different blogs that say they're adapted from the Cook's Illustrated recipe, but some call for 1 1/4 cups flour, some only call for 1/4 cup flour, which is a huge difference. I made a recipe tonight using the larger amount of flour, which made a fluffy lemon cake, but disappointingly with no pudding layer on the bottom. Could someone with access to the original CI recipe verify the ingredient amounts? TIA!

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  1. Many of CI recipes are copyrighted and most forums are reluctant to venture into publishing copyrighted recipes or portions thereof.
    You can get the recipe on that page with a 14 day free trial offer. It's a win/win

    1. This is CI's version:
      I prefer Margaret Atwood's Baked Lemon Custard. It's very sweet so sometimes I cut down on the sugar a little. If it doesn't seem quite set, (very) briefly finish it under the broiler.

      1 Reply
      1. re: toveggiegirl

        Thanks toveggiegirl - made the CI recipe and it came out perfectly.

      2. I just checked the recipe on " ..." Since the author didn't check the recipe before posting it, I need a clarification.

        How long should I boil the roasting pan so it becomes pourable? ("Pour enough boiling roasting pan to come halfway up sides of baking pan or molds.")

        1 Reply
        1. Sorry, just now seeing this... Cook's Illustrated published their first version of Lemon Pudding Cake in their January/February 1995 edition. Then Cook's Country published a different version in April/May 2009. Here are both recipes:

          Lemon Pudding Cake (Cook's Illustrated)

          Published January 1, 1995.

          Why this recipe works:

          In developing our pudding cake recipe, we baked some 15 pudding cakes, noticing that those made with lemon or orange juice came out especially well, while those flavored in other ways tended to have flimsy, fast-dissolving tops and rubbery, dense bottoms. We eventually deduced that it was the acidity of the citrus juices that made the difference. Because the juice lightly clabbered the milk-based batter, causing it to thicken, the frothy upper layer became stiffer and more stable and thus better able to puff. At the same time, the acidic juice undercut the thickening power of the flour, making a more tender custard. To shore up the cake part of those pudding cake recipes made with coffee, chocolate, and vanilla, we added an extra egg white.

          Serves 4 to 6

          This pudding cake can be made in any of the following: 6 - 3/4 cup custard cups; 4 - 1 1/3 cup ramekins or miniature souffle cups; 1 - 9" round cake pan; 1 - 8" square cake pan. All pudding cakes, regardless of pan size, require the same baking time.


          2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the pan
          1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
          1/8 teaspoon table salt
          3 large egg yolks
          3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
          2 - 3 teaspoons lemon zest
          1/4 cup lemon juice, strained, from 1 to 2 lemons
          1 cup whole milk
          4 large egg whites, at room temperature


          1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter pan or baking molds of choice. Lay folded dish towel in bottom of roasting pan and set molds or pan inside. Bring several quarts of water to boil for water bath.

          2. Meanwhile, in mixing bowl mash 2 tablespoons butter together with sugar and salt with back of wooden spoon until crumbly. Beat in yolks, then flour, mixing until smooth. Slowly beat in lemon zest and juice, then stir in milk. Beat egg whites to stiff, moist peaks. Gently whisk whites into batter just until no large lumps remain.

          3. Immediately ladle (don’t pour) batter into pan, custard cups, or ramekins. Set baking pan on oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of baking pan or molds. Bake until pudding cake center is set and springs back when gently touched, about 25 minutes. Remove roasting pan from oven and let pan or molds continue to stand in water bath for 10 minutes. Pudding cakes can be served warm, at room temperature, or even chilled.

          Pudding Cake Hints

          1. Be sure to whisk the egg whites into the batter instead of folding them in. Since the batter is about the consistency of milk, folding would flatten the fluffy whites.

          2. Rather than pouring the batter, ladle it; otherwise the first cups get all the froth and the later cups get all the batter.

          3. Set the roasting pan on an oven rack and pour boiling water into the pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the molds. This water bath keeps the temperature low enough to prevent the eggs from curdling.

          And #2:

          Lemon Pudding Cake
          From Cook's Country | April​/May 2009

          Why this recipe works:

          For the brightest lemon flavor in our Lemon Pudding Cake, we used a full half-cup of lemon juice. To coax even more flavor from the lemons, we creamed a bit of grated zest with the butter and sugar. A bit of cornstarch gently firmed the pudding layer without muddying the lemon flavor.

          To prevent the top layer of the cake from deflating, we beat sugar into the egg whites. This stabilized the whites and resulted in a high, golden, and fluffy cake. For the creamiest texture, it was important to bake the cake in a water bath. The hot water protected the pudding from cooking too quickly.

          Like magic, pudding cakes separate into two layers during baking: airy and soufflélike on top, dense and custardy below. We wanted a foolproof recipe for a creamy pudding, tender cake, and bright lemon flavor.

          Serves 8

          This dessert is best served warm or at room temperature the same day it is made. Scoop it out and serve in a bowl.


          1/4 cup all-purpose flour
          2 teaspoons cornstarch
          1 1/4 cups sugar
          5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
          2 tablespoons grated zest and 1/2 cup juice from 4 lemons
          5 large eggs, separated
          1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
          2 quarts boiling water


          1. MIX BATTER Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 8-inch square baking dish. Whisk flour and cornstarch in bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1/2 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Slowly add milk and lemon juice, mixing until just combined.

          2. BEAT EGG WHITES Using clean bowl and whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add remaining sugar until whites are firm and glossy, about 1 minute. Whisk one-third of whites into batter, then gently fold in remaining whites, one scoop at a time, until well combined.

          3. BAKE Place kitchen towel in bottom of roasting pan and arrange prepared baking dish on towel. Spoon batter into prepared dish. Carefully place pan on oven rack and pour boiling water into pan until water comes halfway up the sides of baking dish. Bake until surface is golden brown and edges are set (center should jiggle slightly when gently shaken), about 60 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour. Serve.

          Using a Water Bath

          The water lowers the temperature surrounding the baking dish for gentle, even cooking.

          1. To prevent the baking dish from sliding, line the bottom of the roasting pan with a kitchen towel.

          2. Set the roasting pan on the oven rack and carefully pour boiling water into the pan, partway up the sides of the baking dish.

          3. After baking, promptly remove the baking dish from the water/ Let the water cool before moving the water batch.

          These sound delicious and now I'm thinking of trying both recipes side by side! I love all things Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country/America's Test Kitchen!