Pick-Your-Citrus - Lime, Orange, Grapefruit or Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake Ad One of my favorite childhood desserts was Betty Crocker’s lemon pudding cake, especially welcomed on a blustery, cold Minnesota-winter night. Unlike other rip-dump-stir box-mixes, it didn’t even require stirring, but instead, simply pouring hot water over the dry mix sprinkled into a 9×9 baking dish, and then baking. Try as we might, no one ever witnessed the magic moment when pudding and cake separated into two distinct layers.

In less than 30-minutes from the first urge to the timer’s ding, we were contentedly licking the remains of the creamy lemon “pudding” off our spoons.

Having sworn off processed, boxed foods, their ingredients list containing more chemicals than real foods, I’ve experimented with a few dozen lemon pudding cake recipes over the years, trying to find a from-scratch-only-better recipe. It wasn’t until 1999, that I finally found one! Published in Sunset magazine, it lived up to its description as “…light and tangy…satisfies my longing for lemon pie…”. It’s also 100-times easier to make than lemon meringue pie and a lot less sugar, something we try to eat no more than once a week.

Sitting around the dinner table last night, relaxing after a satisfying meal of meatloaf and scalloped potatoes, we contentedly listened to the icy wind whistling through the forest just outside the window, while we enjoyed the warmth from the flickering candles – our miniature indoor campfire – and each other’s company. Suddenly, as if triggered by an icy shiver that ran down my spine, my tastebuds made my tongue form and speak the words, “Lemon Pudding Cake”! Everyone volunteered to put the food away and clear the dishes while I got busy baking.

Gathering ingredients together, I discovered one little problem. The lemons I thought I had, were nonexistent! Now, I understand, normally, that could be a problem, but not when you’re blessed with an adventuress family. I had one beautiful, organic grapefruit which would yield plenty of beautiful zest, as well as juice. It was at least worth a try, rather than having to venture out into the cold, in search of lemons.

“There’s been a slight change in plans”, I announced, holding the grapefruit up for everyone to see. “Sounds interesting! Go for it!”, they urged.

I’m so glad I didn’t have lemons! The Red Grapefruit Lemon Pudding Cake was exquisite! Because of the deep-golden egg yolks, the color of the pudding appeared to be “lemony”, a rich deep yellow. Hot, steaming scoops placed on top black raspberries (thawed in a strainer while the “cake” baked) created a sensational combination.

The flavor didn’t scream “Surprise, grapefruit!”, but instead, “…if this were served to me in a 5-star restaurant, I’d go back just for that…..”. It disappeared so quickly, I barely had time to snap photos.

After this little experiment, I’m convinced this dessert would be equally as wonderful with any citrus fruit – lime, orange, grapefruit, or, even lemon if you didn’t have anything better!

This recipe doesn’t create a “cake” on top, not like the boxed mix, but instead, a light meringue that isn’t nearly as cloyingly sweet, and let’s the citrus-flavor shine.

Image Lemon Pudding Cake Pick-Your-Citrus – Lime, Orange, Grapefruit or Lemon Pudding Cake

I reduced the sugar, as 1/2-cup is too sweet for our tastes. I like the flavor of the citrus to shine and not be subdued. My changes are in parenthesis, following the original. Additionally, I doubled this, using a 9×13 glass cake pan.

Yield: Makes 4 servings (But doubles easily to a 9×13 glass pan!)

  • 1/2 cup sugar (1/3-cup for single, but 1/2-cup for double recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or baking mix
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Raspberries, rinsed and drained (optional)
  1. In a bowl, mix sugar and flour. Add lemon peel, juice, and 2 tablespoons butter; mix well. In a small bowl, beat yolks to blend with milk and stir into lemon mixture.
  2. In a deep bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until they hold stiff, moist peaks. Gently fold egg whites into lemon mixture.
  3. Butter a 4- to 5-cup straight-sided shallow baking dish or soufflé dish and set dish in a slightly larger baking pan. Pour lemon mixture into dish and set pan with dish on oven rack. Fill outer pan with boiling water to the depth of 1 inch.
  4. Bake in a 350° oven until pudding top springs back when lightly touched, 35 to 40 minutes. Lift dish from water.
  5. Serve dessert warm, scooping down to bottom of the dish to include

NOTE: If you want a desert with more substance, and cake like the original Betty Crocker, here’s a recipe that looks similar, but which I haven’t tried, located at What’s Cooking America: Lemon Pudding Cake