Aunt Mariah's Lemon Sponge Cups

April 20, 2010

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Food52 Review: 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&MThe Editors

Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min


  • 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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Reviews (105) Questions (10)

105 Reviews

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?<br /><br />My problem is that I got the custard part right but the sponge part didnt seem to come out very thick. Thanks!<br />Ram
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?
Rae 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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
Rosie February 25, 2014
I love the little ramekins. Where can I purchase these?
Jen February 12, 2014
Due to its custard-like texture (in the bottom of the ramekin), how will I know when it's done? I would imagine doneness may be gauged by checking the sponge (or top portion) with a toothpick. Is this correct? I very much look forward to making this!
Superyalda January 24, 2014
I made these tonight and served them with caramel oranges with cardamom on the side<br />OMG! These are like lemon custard topped with lemon cheesecake! Made them exactly as directed and they came out absolutely perfect. I ended up with 7 servings.<br />They come out of the cup pretty easily too, so I was able to plate it with a oranges. Spectacular! It's midnight. The dishes are done. I'm going to get another one!
Lori November 6, 2013
I'd like to make these, but can't eat wheat. What might I use as a replacement for the flour? Would cornstarch work?
nutcakes February 15, 2014
I've seen a recipe that used 1/2 cornstarch and 1/2 rice flour.
sfpipeline April 6, 2014
I used a commercial gluten-free flour, but you could make your own mix: 3 c. rice flour<br />1 c. cornstarch<br />1 c. tapioca starch<br />1 c. potato flour<br />
mudpuppy November 4, 2013
These are beyond fantastic! I used 1/2 pint wide mouth canning jars to bake them.... then you can put the lids on after they are cool to transport. Was a complete hit! I always use at least double lemon.......
faded-elegance September 8, 2013
Nearly identical to a recipe from a (Betty Crocker?) Cookbook for Two someone gave me for a shower gift over 45 years ago, before we all knew how to cook. I lost the book a long time ago but have kept on baking this because it's so reliably good. It's delicious with any citrus (or a combination of citrus) rind and can handle addition of fresh blueberries, raspberries or rhubarb tossed with sugar if made in one large pan. Try it with buttermilk for a more interesting flavor.