Fannie Farmer’s Lemon Pudding

I bought The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, originally published in 1896. I wanted a lemon dessert and found a recipe for lemon pudding in this book.

What appealed to me about this “old favorite” was its claim of “soft lemony custard on the bottom and sponge cake texture on top.”

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Separate 3 eggs and set aside.

Beat 2 tablespoons of butter until soft. Stir in 7/8 cup sugar a bit at a time, until the butter and sugar are blended. Add egg yolks one at a time and stir before adding the next yolk.

Stir in 1 cup of milk and 1 ½ tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Add the zest of 1 lemon and 1/3 cup lemon juice—1 large lemon provided enough juice for this recipe.

Beat the mix. The recipe said that the mixture will look curdled, which mine didn’t. I blended the butter and sugar completely—perhaps that made a difference. Set this mixture aside.

Using a mixer, beat the egg whites until they are at soft peaks. Fold this gently into the batter.

You can use a 1 ½ quart baking dish or ramekins for individual servings as I did. (Mine made 7 servings.) Prepare with cooking spray and spoon into the dish(es). Set in a pan and pour hot water around the dish until it is halfway up the side.

Bake in preheated oven at 350. If using 1 large dish, bake 50-60 minutes or until very lightly browned. Individual dishes take less time, about 30-35 minutes. When it was cool, I sprinkled powdered sugar over the top. Serve cool or cold.

Delicious! Both my husband and I thought that the lemony flavor of the dish was plenty. The two different textures—custard on the bottom and sponge cake on top—made it a unique dessert. We loved it!

I will make this again.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.




Baked Lemon Pudding from 1877 Recipe


An 1877 cookbook, Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, has several recipes for baked pudding. Since lemon desserts are among my favorites, I decided to prepare lemon pudding.

Mrs. M.J. Woods of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, an 1877 cook, provided a recipe titled Delicious Lemon Pudding.

The recipes in this cookbook are usually incomplete or unclear. For instance, Mrs. Woods asked cooks to “line dish with paste.” This was the first time I read this in a recipe and didn’t know what she meant so I sprayed my pie plate with cooking spray.

I used the juice and zest of one lemon with one cup of sugar. After separating two eggs, the yolks were added to the mixture along with three tablespoons of flour.

Mrs. Woods directed cooks to then add enough milk to “fill the dish.” I chose a cup of milk, which ended up working well for both the ingredients and my pie plate.

Nothing was said about heating the mixture on the stove so it went directly into a 375-degree oven.

IMG_2038The pudding looked like the picture after twenty minutes. Something wasn’t right. The dessert also had a yummy lemon flavor yet tasted too sweet.

I made a second batch, decreasing the sugar to ¾ cup. This time I heated the mixture to a light boil then baked it. Twenty minutes later, the difference in texture improved as did the taste.

IMG_2040The dish also called for meringue. Beat two egg whites with four tablespoons of sugar. This ratio did not whip up even with a table mixer.

Using the whites of two medium eggs and two tablespoons of sugar – the correct ratio – didn’t work either. Three medium egg whites with two tablespoons of sugar worked beautifully.

I took the lemon pudding with meringue to a picnic. My friends found it delicious.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.