This is one for lemon lovers! An intensely flavoured self saucing lemon pudding (AKA lemon delicious!) that magically separates into two layers – one fluffy sponge, one tangy lemon sauce. Quick and super easy to make with only 5 main ingredients – no eggs needed!
I love lemon season here in Western Australia. We have a young lemon tree in our garden, but while we wait for it to (hopefully) start producing fruit there are often lemons left in front of houses with a note on – ‘Free Lemons!’.
So what do you make when it’s lemon season (whether you have them growing locally or not)? Personally, either this Greek lemon chicken and potatoes (an incredibly delicious and easy midweek meal), or my famous lemon pudding are two of my go-to lemon recipes!
What’s a self saucing lemon pudding?
You might not be too surprised to learn that, as if by magic, a self saucing lemon pudding makes its own sauce while it’s cooking.
To make it, you mix together a few simple lemon sponge cake ingredients and pour them into a pudding dish. Then you pour over 3 ingredients – just lots of lemon juice, sugar and boiling water.
Somehow, while baking, the pudding ‘magically’ separates into a light and fluffy sponge cake layer with a delicious, tangy lemon sauce layer below.
When you put it in the oven covered in liquid, it’s hard to believe it’ll actually work, but I promise it does. It’s SO ridiculously simple!
Why you’ll love it
Here in Australia, this is a classic dessert, sometimes known as lemon delicious or lemon surprise pudding. It’s a perfect quick (and, if lemons are in season, economical!) dessert for your family or for guests.
Recipes can differ slightly from one another, so what’s different about this lemon pudding recipe?
- It contains just 5 simple ingredients (I wanted to keep it super simple).
- SO easy to make with only 10 minutes’ hands-on prep time (the oven does the rest!). No mixer required. Just mix wet ingredients into dry with a wooden spoon, pour over the sauce ingredients and bake.
- It’s made WITHOUT EGGS (perfect for when you don’t have any, or someone has an egg allergy). No complicated whisking and folding of egg whites like in some other lemon pudding recipes!
- The lemon sauce is super zingy. I love the contrast of the light, sweet cake and tart citrus sauce. And there’s a lot of it!
- The sponge is light, fluffy and crisp on top. It might not be the prettiest, but it sure is delicious!
- This version isn’t overly sweet. That’s just the way I usually like to do desserts around here.
“We made this once, and then told everyone we knew about it – it was that good!”
About the ingredients
Yes, just 5 main ingredients! Here’s what you need to know:
The cake batter
Self-raising flour: It’s important that you use self-raising flour, and not plain flour or self rising flour (US). If you don’t have any, simply make your own by mixing 2 teaspoons of baking powder into a cup of all-purpose flour.
Sugar: Just regular white sugar or caster sugar (fine sugar).
Lemon zest: Add the zest of one lemon to the sponge cake batter. Nothing gets wasted because the juice will go into the sauce!
Milk: You’ll need half a cup of warm milk. Any kind of milk works.
Melted butter: You’ll melt the butter into the warmed milk. Both unsalted and salted butter are fine.
Sugar: Just a quarter cup, since you want a tangy sauce to contrast with the sweeter sponge. Ordinary white sugar or caster sugar (fine sugar) are both fine. Don’t reduce the amount of sugar in the sauce – the recipe needs this amount for the consistency.
Lemon juice: You’ll need the juice of 2-3 lemons or around half a cup.
How to make it
The step-by-step guide below should help you make the recipe perfectly first time. Scroll down to the end for the full recipe including ingredient amounts.
You really won’t believe how easy it is to make this lemon self saucing pudding!
Here’s what to do.
Step 1: Prepare a souffle or pudding dish by rubbing with a little butter or spraying with oil. Also pre-heat the oven.
Step 2: Mix together the dry ingredients for the cake batter – so flour, sugar and lemon zest.
Step 3: Warm the milk in a jug in the microwave. Then melt the butter into it.
Step 4: Pour the wet milk/butter mixture into the dry flour/sugar/zest mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter.
Step 5: Scrape the batter into your prepared dish.
Step 6: Mix together the sauce ingredients. Then carefully pour over the batter in the dish.
Step 7: Bake for around 35 minutes or until the pudding has risen, the top is golden brown and the luscious lemon sauce is bubbling up around the sides.
Pro tip: The key to success is to leave the lemon pudding to cool slightly for ten to fifteen minutes after it comes out of the oven. The sauce might look a bit runny at first but if you let it stand it thickens up nicely.
Helen’s top tips
I’m going to be honest here. This recipe mostly gets rave reviews, but it can also divide a room. I have not experienced this myself, but occasionally a reader reports it ‘not working’, with liquid still on top of the cake.
Bear in mind that this pudding may not win any beauty contests! But it’s always delicious!
Here are my top tips for success.
- Make sure the oven is heated up properly before baking.
- Make sure you use self raising flour and not all-purpose or self-rising flour (NOT the same thing).
- Let the pudding rest for 10 to 15 minutes before eating to let the sauce cool and thicken a little. The sauce will still be quite thin, but that’s how it’s supposed to be!
- Then enjoy immediately. It still tastes lovely reheated the next day, but some of the sauce does soak into the pudding and the sauce will be thicker – more like lemon curd. Yum!
How to serve
This one’s very simple. If you like, sprinkle a little icing sugar (powdered sugar) over the top of your pudding. Then serve your magic lemon pudding into bowls, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and eat!
Some readers have also served with whipped cream and even Greek yogurt and enjoyed it. In particular the cooling Greek yogurt pairs well with the tangy lemon.
If you want to create even more of an old fashioned lemon sponge pudding vibe, feel free to serve with custard instead!
Also, one last reminder that it’s important to let the pudding ‘rest’ for a while before eating to let the sauce settle, cool and thicken a little. 😉
This is a beautiful quick pudding, perfect as it is, but there a few changes you can make to vary it if you like:
- Double the ingredients to serve a small crowd. Of course you’ll have to use a larger baking dish. It will also take longer to bake – roughly around 10 to 15 minutes longer or until the top is risen and lightly golden.
- If you like, you can make this with a different citrus juice, or a mixture. Try orange and lemon or lime. Just replace the lemon juice in a ratio of 1:1 and the result will be the same.
- Try mixing a few blueberries or raspberries into the sponge batter.
- Feel free to use gluten free flour to make this a gluten free dessert. The texture of the cake may be slightly different and also may soak up the sauce faster, but the pudding will still be delicious.
- Yes, you can make this a vegan pudding by replacing the dairy milk with a non dairy alternative such as soy milk or almond milk. You can use melted coconut oil instead of butter.
- Try making it in 4 individual ramekins instead of 1 larger one. The cooking time will be a little less (roughly 20-25 minutes). Keep an eye on the puddings in the oven. They’re ready when well risen, browned and bubbling.
You should use a souffle dish or high sided round baking dish that’s between 6 and 8 inches in diameter. Alternatively, a similar sized square or rectangular ovenproof dish will work.
Nope. Although there are versions of this lemon pudding that are made with eggs, this recipe is egg-free. The texture of the cake is light, fluffy and delicious without using any eggs.
Occasionally, a reader reports this issue. I have made this many times and usually when the pudding first comes out of the oven the sauce is still quite runny. That’s OK. Just leave it for 10 to 15 minutes and as it cools it will thicken slightly. Some of the sauce will even soak into the sponge, making it even more delicious.
Nope. This pudding might not win any beauty contests. As long as it’s lightly browned and risen and bubbling, it’ll be delicious. If not browned, feel free to leave in the oven for a few more minutes. If the appearance still bothers you, perhaps it’s one for just serving to the family rather than to guests!
Chocolate self saucing pudding
I worked on the ‘little sister’ of my lemon pudding AKA a 6-ingredient chocolate self saucing pudding, also with no eggs, for a long time before publishing it.
I wanted to get it ‘just right’. I hope you agree it was worth the wait! There are plenty similar puddings out there already, but what sets this one apart is that:
- it’s surprisingly low in sugar
- it’s egg free, just like the lemon pudding, in case you can’t get any or you can’t eat eggs
- it too has got plenty of sauce (mmmm… )
Find out more about the chocolate self saucing pudding.
More super easy desserts
One of the things I love about this lemon ‘surprise’ pudding is that as long as you have 2 or 3 lemons, you probably already have everything else you need.
Here are some more super easy ‘I need it now!’ kinda desserts!
- Chocolate lover too? Try this 6-ingredient Swedish chocolate cake, this 10-minute no-bake chocolate truffle cake, or these 5-minute chocolate pots.
- In the mood for ice cream? Try this 5-minute chocolate banana ice cream (healthy nice cream!
- Peanut butter lover? This 2-minute peanut butter mug cake (It’s healthy!) also gets rave reviews. Need dessert for a party or BBQ? Try these easy peanut butter Cheerio bars.
Easy ‘Magic’ Lemon Pudding (5 ingredients, No Eggs)
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
for the cake batter
- 1 cup self-raising flour (NOT self-rising flour: If you don't have self-raising flour mix 2 teaspoons baking powder into 1 cup plain/all-purpose flour)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 lemon zest only (use the juice in the sauce)
- ½ cup milk warmed
- 2 tablespoons butter (melted and mixed in with the warm milk)
for the sauce
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup boiling water
- ½ cup lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)
to serve (optional)
- icing / confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
- vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or custard
- Pre-heat the oven to 355F / 180C and grease a medium sized high-sided baking dish with butter.
- Mix together the flour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl.1 cup self-raising flour, ½ cup sugar, 1 lemon
- Pour the milk / butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.½ cup milk, 2 tablespoons butter
- Empty the batter into the baking dish.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together, then carefully pour over the batter in the baking dish. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the sauce starting to bubble around the sides.¼ cup sugar, 1 cup boiling water, ½ cup lemon juice
- Take out of the oven, then leave for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken slightly before serving.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve immediately with vanilla ice cream (if you like).icing / confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or custard