Grandma Woodall’s Baked Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon pudding Collage

Last night a friend and I got to talking about our grandmothers; her grandma Ruby, who lives in a home in Drumheller and is starting to forget things (including her), and my grandma Woodall (Madelon), who was a great baker until the day she had a stroke and lost most of her ability to move. And standing at the back of a room full of people at a small work-related party I suddenly missed her so much – and was so sad for my mom having lost her 10 years ago, and sad for my friend for being in the process of losing hers – that I had to concentrate hard on not getting all weepy in my wine.

Because I can’t call her up or go for a visit (she lived on Riverside drive in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit), I pulled out one of her handwritten, well-splattered recipes – for lemon pudding cake, one of her better-known creations but one I can’t recall eating in the past decade or two.

lemon pudding

I wonder about each drip and crumb: what happened that day? Who was she cooking for? Was she using her hand-held beaters, looking out over the water? Wearing her crisply ironed, striped tennis dress with the alligator on the chest?

Pudding cake is nursery food; not in the sense that it’s best suited to invalids or toddlers, but in that it’s the sort of thing you want someone to make for you. Preferably a grandma. I admit my brain defaulted to second guessing her method; had it been from another source and had I not been baking it in an attempt to connect with her on some level, to stir up some nostalgia, I would have gone about it a different way. But it worked, of course, just the way she had written it. I melted the butter to make it easier to stir into the egg yolk-lemon juice-milk, and I grated the zest of an entire lemon, rather than measure out two teaspoons. The more lemon, I think, the better.

zesting lemon

I’m not sure why lemon became a spring flavour – it’s bright and sunny, I suppose, but citrus is winter fruit, at its peak once all the berries and peaches are long gone.

I may just make this for Thanksgiving dessert, to extend the family presence at the table. Pumpkin pie is the requisite, I realize. I envy those who adore it; as a kid, I hated it – it was like spiced squash mush, a ripoff of a pie. Now I don’t dislike it, and actually enjoy a forkful so long as the ratio is 2:1 whipped cream to pie. But I don’t love it. And while there are myriad other pumpkin recipes that are seasonal, I can’t imagine a wedge of pumpkin cake after a turkey dinner, and having never been a fan of the pie I’m not so attached to pumpkin itself that I need to come up with a dessert vehicle for it. I’d choose lemon over pumpkin any day.

lemon pudding 8

James Barber taught me to squeeze lemon juice through my fingers to catch all the pips.

You make this pudding-cake thusly: mix egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, melted butter and milk in a mixing bowl. Stir in a mixture of sugar, flour, baking powder and salt; beat the egg whites stiff with sugar and fold into the aforementioned batter. Spread into a casserole dish that if you’re trying to be authentic, you’ve greased with a square of waxed paper swiped through soft butter.

buttering pan

lemon pudding 9

lemon pudding 10

She calls for the dish to be set in a water bath to bake, but since I chose a fairly large square one to begin with and lent my roasting pan out somewhere, all I could find to set it in was a big round Le Creuset braiser. It worked fine.

lemon pudding 7

It bakes up spongey, squishy and golden, with a layer of lemon pudding under the cake.

lemon pudding 6

We ate this out of what I have left of her shallow china bowls and silver spoons – we sat around the table and if I’m to be honest here, mostly ate directly from the baking dish. An impromptu gathering, inspired by my Grandma.

lemon pudding 4

Speaking of gatherings (segue way!) you may have noticed my friend Jan and I doing a series of Gathering posts this year – this is one of them – and we’re happy to announce that the concept is turning into a book to be released in the fall of 2014!

To quote JanWhat will essentially be a printed extension of this series, Gatherings is a collection of recipes, ideas and how-tos designed to inspire and encourage a return to simple home entertaining. The book is divided into 20 different occasions; each packed with menus, recipes, drink ideas, easy serving, décor and presentation possibilities… Our hope is that will appeal to those who are interested in socializing and hosting more casual home parties, but aren’t sure where to start. And it will benefit those who can’t cook, have a small space, don’t know how to mix drinks, or are easily intimidated by all of the organizing that a good party requires. Sounds fun, right? It’s scheduled to publish in the fall of 2014, and our manuscript is due in a little less than four months – yikes!

lemon pudding 1

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Grandma Woodall’s Baked Lemon Pudding Cake


Yields1 Serving

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs, separated
finely grated zest of a lemon (or two, if you like it zingy)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbsp. melted butter


Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder and salt.


In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, milk and butter. Add to the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.


In a clean glass or stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating constantly until the mixture stands in stiff peaks. Gently fold into the lemon batter, and scrape into a buttered baking dish.


Set the baking dish into a larger dish and fill halfway up the side with water. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Serve warm or cold.



 1 1/2 cups sugar
 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
 1/2 tsp. baking powder
 1/4 tsp. salt
 3 large eggs, separated
 finely grated zest of a lemon (or two, if you like it zingy)
 1/4 cup lemon juice
 1 1/2 cups milk
 2 Tbsp. melted butter



Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder and salt.


In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, milk and butter. Add to the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.


In a clean glass or stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating constantly until the mixture stands in stiff peaks. Gently fold into the lemon batter, and scrape into a buttered baking dish.


Set the baking dish into a larger dish and fill halfway up the side with water. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Serve warm or cold.

Grandma Woodall’s Baked Lemon Pudding Cake

About Julie

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49 comments on “Grandma Woodall’s Baked Lemon Pudding Cake

  1. Krista Wiebe
    October 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Julie, this is wonderful! I love using old recipes with splatters all over and baking things that my Grandmothers used to make. I will definitely be trying this recipe. And, congratulations on the book!! So exciting.

  2. Wanda
    October 4, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I love those hand written recipes from long ago. What a beautiful way to celebrate her memory (sounds delicious too) 🙂

  3. Nurse Jennifer
    October 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

    That is so exciting about the book. I will certainly be buying it!

  4. Jane J
    October 4, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Speaking of lemons and pumpkin pie—my father’s New Jersey version of pumpkin pie includes lemon zest and juice, which makes it wonderful.

  5. Marg
    October 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Oh I remember this recipe well. I need to make it again. Thank you for this reminder.

  6. Anonymous
    October 4, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Thank you. This brings back beautiful memories of my grandma. I have her splattered stewed tomato recipe framed and hanging in my kitchen. In many ways it’s more a portrait of her than the best photograph could ever be.

  7. Lana
    October 4, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Sentimental me loves this post. My mother’s cookbook contains all kinds of handwritten, spattered recipes from her mother and mother-in-law. It is a family treasure and I have one of my own in the works. How many of my printed out recipes or handcopied ones came from you, do you think? 🙂

  8. Maureen
    October 4, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I love everything about this, including the lovely cursive writing. Recipes on the iPad, while convenient, lack character.

    Congrats on the next book collaboration! Already looking forward to it.

  9. Robin
    October 4, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Baked lemon pudding is my all-time favourite dessert. As a kid (ok…still), it was what I asked for instead of a birthday cake. Appropriate to this post, it was also my grandma’s (I was her favourite…we all knew. I think it was because we were kindred spirits…down to our love of lemon pudding).

  10. Cheryl Arkison
    October 4, 2013 at 11:17 am

    So making this cake. I gave you Baba’s pyrohy and you are giving me this.

  11. Laurie M
    October 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

    WOW!!!! Lemon is my fav and family recipes make baking even more special! Thank you for sharing!! And I cannot wait to get another book by you 🙂 Whooooooooot!!

  12. Avery
    October 4, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Congrats on what will surely be another highly successful book. I love that lemon pudding cake, and I believe the first one I ever made was YOUR recipe!

  13. jake
    October 4, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Bittersweet post, a different sort of comfort food. I love lemon desserts, definitely a Sunday dessert soon. Family/food connections are very powerful. Strange how we miss our family at the oddest times. 5 years this fall since my mom passed away and I sort of choked up beside a pile of green peppers at the Crossroads Market last weekend. I’ve been eating her stuffed peppers all week. I even dug out the old black (with white speckles) enamel roasting pan to make them in.

  14. Voula Martin
    October 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    You had me at Lemon. Then again at pudding. 🙂 Love handwritten recipes from our past. Bittersweet, just like a lemon.

  15. Kitchen Ninja (Julianne)
    October 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Awesome news about the book! And the handwritten recipe is so touching.

  16. Michelle
    October 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    This post made me cry again. I lost my beloved grandma last week, just before I am due to fly down and visit her. I was looking forward to spending time with her, just talking… something I never did when I was younger. Its so hard to believe that I will never see her again. I’ve been going through her recipes, ones that my mom sent me, and I don’t know if I can bring myself to cook from them… its too hard 🙁 I love how you’ve talked through your memories of your grandmother. I hope one day I will be able to do the same.

  17. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    October 4, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Oh, this post makes me miss my Nana. I think I might have to make a batch of cinnamon rolls tonight to channel her lovely spirit. (Cinnamon rolls were the first thing she taught me to make as a child, and I have many fond flour-y memories of our times together in the kitchen, rolling out the dough and filling it with insane amounts of butter, sugar, and cinnamon). This baked lemon pudding sounds wonderful. I’m on your side – I’d pick lemon over pumpkin any day (sometimes even over chocolate).

  18. Janice
    October 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I love the new book idea! That is kind of how I group recipes (or at least Pin them) by occasion! It’s going to be fantastic. And I adore lemon – will make this for an upcoming Sunday dinner.

  19. Maureen
    October 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Every cookbook with your name on it is always a winner! Can’t wait!

  20. Aimee
    October 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I love this post, but at the same time it makes me so sad. I lost my mom a little over a year ago and one thing I never asked her for where some of my favourite recipes. I have since dug into her collection but they are nowhere to be found as she had been making them for years and didn’t need a recipe to follow to make them. I look at this splattered recipe of yours and it makes me so jealous. Cherish it and all the recipes you have from her.

  21. Pat from Windsor
    October 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    This story certainly brought tears to my eyes, not because of memories of my mom or grandma, as much as it reminded me of YOUR grandma. She was like a mother to me growing up. I remember her prowess in the kitchen and it delights me to see you following in her footsteps. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. It was 6 years ago that I sat at your family table for Thanksgiving, and the memories of that wonderful meal still bring a smile to my face.

  22. Elizabeth
    October 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Well, you’ve gone and made me cry. One day I will share with you some of my Grandma’s specialties. I have a pair of baking pans with he name inscribed on the side (so they wouldn’t get lost at the church potlucks) and slide on lids that are my most prized possession.

  23. Susan
    October 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I too am from Windsor and remember your the family. But what is most astounding is your grandmother and my mother had the exact same handwriting. I know it was called the Pitman method as mom tried unsuccessfully to drum it into me. I had the most amazing flashback when I saw the photo of the original recipe. Thanks so much for sharing.

  24. sue
    October 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I have a cookie recipe from my Mom that is tattered, with food stains. I love that recipe. It’s clipped to my fridge, but I keep meaning to frame it.

  25. Emma
    October 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    THIS LOOKS SO GOOD! I might have to try this tonight – the family will love me. If you are looking for a food-related giggle while it bakes, check out Gets me every time!

  26. Barbara
    October 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    I have a few of my grandma’s recipes as well, and I always feel like she’s in the kitchen looking over my shoulder. Your lemon pudding looks wonderful!

  27. Dana
    October 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Love this post. You should know that despite not liking pumpkin pie (much), your recipe for it has been touted as one of the best pumpkin pies my husband has ever had. I have baked two of them recently to great fanfare (one was gobbled up by 12 friends to celebrate our last mountain biking ride of the season). I used one of those sweet pumpkins that are in the stores right now.

    I am looking forward to your next book!

    • Julie
      October 7, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Dana – it’s funny, whenever I make that pumpkin pie (or any version) I have to refer to Mike and other tasters to let me know if it’s really good, and they say the same thing. It’s so odd to not really be able to tell myself!

  28. glenda mckenzie
    October 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    When it get’s cool/cold outside, I get to baking inside. And this is exactly what I made the other nite! Lite, fluffy, and wonderfully lemony. I agree with you – lemon desserts aren’t just for spring! I’ll be making it again for our early Thanksgiving dinner:)

  29. Lee
    October 5, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Congratulations on the upcoming book! I will definitely be buying it.

    Also, I grew up in an entire family of pumpkin pie avoiders so I never even had it until I was in my 20s, and then, bleuch. We had apple and blueberry pies instead which is a family tradition I’m happy to continue.

  30. AJ
    October 5, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Loved this post, Julie. One of my treasures is a book of family recipes my Mom wrote out when I got married 30 years ago. She added the history of each one – where it came from, which family event it was served at etc. My grandma added her specialties, written in spidery copperplate. I feel like she’s with me, everytime I open those pages.

  31. AM
    October 5, 2013 at 10:06 am

    This made miss my Grandma a lot. This was her favourite dessert. It also happens to be my sister’s favourite dessert and what she asks for instead of birthday cake. I love baked lemon pudding and love introducing it to people.

  32. Erica B.
    October 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Congrats to you & Jan on the new book! Love lemon pudding cake, definitely going to try Grandma Woodall’s version. Thank you for sharing Julie 🙂

  33. Donna
    October 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Thank you, Julie for sharing, and best wishes for the new book.
    Cook book indexes — please list, somewhere in the book,
    recipes by main ingredients and by type of food- main dish, soup, veges, breads etc. (maybe two different indexes) I find cookbooks without those useful guides don’t get used as much.
    “Gatherings” is a wonderful idea – I know I’ll want at least two copies.

    • Julie
      October 7, 2013 at 7:42 am

      Yes Donna – I’m all over a good index! working on one for my site now. Phew!

  34. Heather
    October 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Beautiful post Julie. And congrats on the new book!

  35. Jen
    October 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I’m with on on the pumpkin pie/desserts. This year I’m making Whitewater Cooks Gingerbread Pudding Cake for Thanksgiving. It fits the bill of being a warm, comforting fall dessert. Your Grandma’s Lemon Pudding cake is tonight’s dessert. ( it makes me think of my Grannie too – pudding cakes and hot milk cake were her favourite)

  36. Mia
    October 6, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I can’t wait for 2 things…to taste this lemony goodness cake(I love lemon more than any other flavour for dessert) and to enjoy page by page your new book. It will be a long year for me, but worth it.

  37. christine
    October 7, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    My granny loved this cake too. She made a mean fudge and every recipe she ever wrote down said “stir (or cook or chop or mix) until it looks right”. Love it.

  38. Laura Frey
    October 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    It seems unfortunate that many of us are in the kitchen following a recipe on our I Pad. The splattered recipe files and hand writing are a treasure now but are in danger of becoming non existent.

  39. Christina
    October 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    This looks so good. I am looking for a recipie just like this but want to add fresh berries to it. Do you think that would work?

  40. Anonymous
    October 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    this is amazing, Julie! i halved the recipe, as it’s just my partner and i, and we gobbled up over half of it right from the pan in one sitting. thank you so much for sharing!

  41. Kristiina
    October 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    What size baking dish did you use?


  42. Camilla
    January 24, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    This is a beautiful recipe and story. Thank you for sharing. I baked this the other day and it was fantastic. What a keeper. I love the nostalgia and history behind this recipe, and it is lovely and inspiring to see your Grandma’s hand-written original. I hang on to all the recipes from my mom and Nana also, such treasures, especially in this digital age! ‘Old fashioned’ recipes are the best, and this one clearly stands the test of time. This was my first attempt ever at a lemon pudding cake, and I am so glad I decided to follow this timeless and trusted classic. It was delicious and did not dissapoint.

    April 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

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  44. catie
    October 18, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    We were raised Catholic and had fish every Friday night. I always looked forward to this lemon steamed cake as it was the best part of the evening. I lost my mother’s recipe and am so happy to have your grandmother’s It tasted exactly the same. I love it!

  45. christina
    April 9, 2015 at 9:18 am


    If I wanted to double the recipe,what size pan would you recommend using? I was thinking 9×13 but wasn’t sure.

    Thank you!

  46. Richard Moore
    May 5, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    I used to make something similar to this as a child during the late 70’s
    Thank you so much for the recipe, I will be making this tomorrow

  47. Saima Hassan
    April 12, 2024 at 10:36 am

    the recipe says 1 serving- is it actually for one person? I need to make it for a group of 15 people- pls. advise on the quantity I should make. Thanks

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