Aunt Mariah's Lemon Sponge Cups

April 20, 2010
4.5 Stars
Author Notes

I found the recipe for these lemon sponge cups in my Aunt Mariah's old-fashioned recipe box (an actual box), when I was visiting with her in my hometown, Galax, Virginia, to learn how to make her exquisite, feathery rolls. The rolls took lots of practice. The lemon sponge cups, though, were a breeze; also, they make you feel fancy, like a lady. You pour the batter into individual souffle dishes or ramekins, and when they come out of the oven they have cute puffy-brown tops, with a layer of lemon custard on the bottom. Without whipped cream, they are perfectly light and sour-sweet; but a spoonful of whipped cream is always nice for company. - ENunn

Test Kitchen Notes

We're so glad ENunn unearthed her Aunt Mariah's version of this classic lemon pudding cake -- its evocative name, mellowed lemon pucker and bare sweetness thoroughly won us over. In one fell swoop, you get two desserts: a delicate, airy cake that rises to the top and browns handsomely, and a lush lemony custard that pools at the bottom, waiting for your spoon. - A&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 lemon, grated rind and juice
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch salt
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream butter. Add sugar, flour salt, lemon juice and rind. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks; stir in milk. Slowly add second mixture to first mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff; gently fold into mixture. Pour into ramekins or individual souffle dishes and place in pan of hot water. Bake in "moderate" oven (350, in my case) for 45 minutes. You will have a layer of lemon custard, with gorgeous, lightly browned sponge on top. Let cool a bit. Turn out and serve with whipped cream, or serve still in the dish. You can also bake this in one large souffle dish. Aunt Mariah likes to garnish with a thin slice of lemon.
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116 Reviews

gremolata April 23, 2022
A favorite recipe, was on my

chef school menu, and also a very delicious version was on the menu at Hammersley in Boston! Very special dessert!
sscook December 12, 2020
This is my go to easiest dessert especially for company! We love it!
KSR May 17, 2020
Could I do this with buttermilk, anyone think? Looking to use up some...
Virginia H. February 14, 2020
It came out perfect! I didn't have dessert for our Valentine's dinner. Read the recipe a few hours ago in the car, asked my husband if we had milk. Yep! I made it with Myer lemons, fast, easy, lemony custard, and it was delicious. What a treasure! Thank you so much!
Elizabeth V. October 21, 2019
This is my absolute favorite dessert. The recipe comes out perfect every time and we fight over them in my family.
Beth October 21, 2019
Absolutely! I think some folks expected a thick custard on the bottom, and mine never comes out that way. It's more like a sauce on the bottom, quite thin but totally delicious. I do it in a 1 quart casserole dish, maybe it would come out more solid in individual custard cups. Wonderful either way, though.
Beth April 5, 2019
This was my mother's recipe and I'm 86, so you know how old it is. I don't do the yolks & milk separately, just add them after creaming the rest. The whites have to be beaten in another bowl of course, and added carefully.
The pudding part is quite runny and the sponge is very light when baked. It's done when the time is up and top is lightly brown, poking with a toothpick won't work because it's too wet inside. This is delicious using orange juice and coconut, too.
Ram August 6, 2018
Recipe says "In a large bowl, cream butter. Add sugar, flour salt, lemon juice and rind. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks; stir in milk. Slowly add second mixture to first mixture.". After I did this the mixture was completely lquid. Is this how it is supposed to be? If so how do you fold the beaten stiff egg whites into it?

My problem is that I got the custard part right but the sponge part didnt seem to come out very thick. Thanks!
Beth October 21, 2019
It will be pretty liquidy. Fold the beaten eggwhites in carefully, I usually break up big lumps but leave a lot of little chunks of eggwhite. When you bake it, it will separate naturally into soft sponge on top and quite liquid pudding on the bottom. Don't expect the pudding to get firm, it won't.
Kevin July 23, 2016
I have made these twice now and both times have a lot of liquid in the bottom..... Followed the recipe exactly.... Any ideas what may be the reason?
Beth October 21, 2019
It's supposed to be soupy, liquidy on the bottom. That's the pudding part, it's a pudding cake.
rachel February 21, 2016
My grandmother lived in Hillsville, right near Galax, and my uncle recently moved to Galax. Loved my grandmothers country style home cooking -- I'm sure making these for my dad would evoke memories of his childhood and mean a lot, as she passed a few years ago. I don't usually comment but I wanted to thank you for sharing!
Graham February 19, 2016
Very good, wonderfully light, but I like the Joy of Cooking recipe slightly more.
Kristin February 17, 2016
Okay what did I do wrong? Beautifully browned on top but remained a soup underneath- despite baking for 60 minutes. I made in a 1 1/2 qt casserole dish and used up one of my duck eggs in place of one of the chicken eggs....any ideas? So bummed. Went into the trash.
Beth October 21, 2019
It's supposed to be soupy on the bottom! That's the pudding part, with a nice light sponge on top.
Amy February 16, 2016
Wondering if you can provide the source for the beautiful footed glass ramekins that the souffle is shown in (in the photo). Thanks.
Gonul B. April 13, 2016
Food52 sells them. https://food52.com/shop/products/1133-egg-coddler
Renee B. July 25, 2018
Do these coddlers (footed ramekins) work in the oven? They're made for cooking eggs in water. I love the shape but fear they won't work for this recipe.
lmeberhart April 17, 2022
It appears these are no longer available - although I see your post is from 2016 !!! Ugh, they are adorable.
Julia P. September 25, 2015
Can you freeze them if you end up with extras?
Matilde March 21, 2015
These are so wonderful, such adorable little cakes!
SallyAnn W. February 15, 2015
Made it in a single 2qt soufflé dish and it's came out perfect. Wish this thread allowed photos to be added
Elaine R. January 30, 2015
Should i use plain or slf raising flor ?
Alice September 2, 2014
Where can you buy those lovely glass cups???
Greenstuff September 3, 2014
Provisions; they are egg coddlers. https://food52.com/provisions/search?q=egg+coddlers
Alice September 3, 2014
Ok the ones that are in provisions are definitely not the ones pictured in the recipe :(
Lisa A. May 14, 2014
How far up the sides of the cups should the water be? How full should the cups be?
Tom S. April 6, 2014
Not sure I understand "1 lemon, grated rind and juice". Does this mean you use the white rind in addition to the zest? I thought you have to carefully grate the zest off of the rind to avoid a bitter taste. Anyone? Thank you.
sfpipeline April 6, 2014
Use the zest and juice.
Tom S. April 6, 2014
Lisanne March 21, 2014
Yummy! I made them in coffee cups, they unmolded beautifully without benefit of cooking spray! A lovely light finish to lunch,