The Retro Mom

Bringing your grandmother's comfort food out of her recipe box and into your gluten-free kitchen

Gluten Free Lemon Cake Pudding Meringue of Happiness

Sometimes food needs a big old confusing title. This would be one of those times. I don’t know how to describe what I made, but I know it was good.

It’s not really a cake. Not a pie. Not a custard. Not a curd. Not a meringue. It’s none of those things, and all of them at once. And definitely gluten-free.

No, I havn’t been sipping the cooking sherry.

lemon cake 1

It just is one of “those” desserts. Verrrry comforting food. One that some awesome grandmother invented one day back in the 40’s, and it just stuck. I had seen this type of dessert become popular again via Pinterest, no doubt from someone who thought they had reinvented the wheel. Again. I’m not going to be the one to burst their bike tire, so I’ll just leave the recipes there to simmer. But self-basting pudding gooey-topped-bottomed upside-down cakes are everywhere there. Don’t be fooled. Try the original first.

How it came to be is a simple story. I was looking in my Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook from 1950, pondering what to make next……naturally, I’m drawn to the sweet section of the book. And just to be clear, there is no gluten-free section of the book, people back then didn’t feel the need to add flour to everything under the sun. Sheesh. But, I digress. Where was I? Dessert section, that’s right.

bc picture cookbook

Lemon Cake Pudding. Remember, these recipes were from before the popularity of boxed puddings, cake mixes and cool whipish-topped jello poke-cakes. It had to be good then!

Remember, real food. Vintage food.

I had all of the necessary ingredients in my kitchen – when can you ever say that – and I mixed it all up. Simple.

A short wait later, and this luscious comfort food appeared in my kitchen. As I let it cool slightly, I snuck a taste of lemon warmth and pondered how it was going to taste chilled – after all, I had never had this recipe before. Ponder away. I was so busy pondering that I didn’t notice my daughter had slipped into the kitchen and taken a chunk of it away before I got a chance to photograph the best slices. So…….I decided to chill it, and try again in a bit. This is the loveliness that awaited me:

Ok, you got me. Maybe I topped it with a little Greek yogurt. And sliced it to look pretty. But had it not been for needing to take pictures, I would have gone off quietly to a corner with a spoon and fallen asleep very happy…….

So, how did it taste? Fabulous.

The top was like a very light cake, and the bottom was a light, smooth custard. It had a light fragrance of lemon. I know, I’m a food dork. Big time.

You can thank me later for this dainty, delicate “Wednesday Afternoon Ladies Fine Arts League” dessert.


Note: It says Lemon Cake Pudding, not Lemon Pudding Cake, which undoubtedly comes out of a boxed mix. Boxed cake mix? Tsk. Tsk.

Lemon Cake Pudding

Here’s how I modified it:

1. I substituted Bob’s Red Mill White Rice Flour for the regular flour, Bob’s has a very fine texture to it and was unnoticeable each time that I made this recipe. Yes, I made it more than once. It’s just that good. If you need a refresher on folding egg whites, please see my coconut macaroon post.

2. I used unsweetened almond milk for the dairy-filled milk.

3. I reduced the sugar to 1/2 of a cup. It was plenty sweet.

4. I did use a loaf pan for this recipe, in the water bath as written, it worked well. I can only imagine that little custard cups would be perfectly dainty and pretty!

5. I only baked it for 40 minutes and it was nicely browned on top. If you bake a custard for too long, it will get a bit watery on the bottom.


*Helpful hint from Heloise: I wanted to see what would happen if I doubled the recipe…..the only thing that happened was I was doubly happy! I still only used 1/2 cup of sugar, and even when the recipe was doubled, it was still nice and sweet. It was extra fluffy and baked beautifully! Chilled, it slices well with a serrated knife, warm it scoops lusciously with a large serving spoon.

Please top this with crème fraiche, sour cream ,yogurt, or whipped cream It makes for an extra creamy dessert!

Here’s the expanded recipe for other options:

lemon cake


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