Upside-Down Lemon, Maple & Vanilla Pudding From Ottolenghi Test Kitchen

December 20, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Elena Heatherwick
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This magnificent pudding (aka cake) was made with the purpose of showcasing winter lemons, their bitter flesh a great way to cut through an otherwise decadent eating experience. As happy accidents go, this was tested alongside a separate dish that included a maple-butter sauce. A squeeze of lemon and a generous amount of maple butter was spooned over the cake because well, why not, and it suddenly dawned on us that lemon-maple butter had been the missing component all along. Lesson learned: sometimes that which is very, very wrong can turn out to be really quite right.

Be sure to remove the butter for the pudding from the fridge well in advance—it needs to be super softened at room temperature before making the base. —Food52

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Upside-Down Lemon, Maple & Vanilla Pudding From Ottolenghi Test Kitchen
  • Lemon Upside-Down Cake
  • 3 medium lemons, thinly sliced into 1/16-inch/1/4 cm thick rounds to get 24 slices, seeds removed
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) grade B maple syrup
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved with the pod
  • 1 3/4 cups cups plus 1 tablespoon (225 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, then cut into 3/4-inch/2cm cubes
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (225 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (240 grams) crème fraiche, to serve
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Lemon-Maple Butter
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) grade B maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, fridge cold and cut into 1/2-inch/ cubes
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking dish about 9 x 13 inches/23 x 33cm in size with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom and sides, with enough overhang to fold over the cake as well.
  2. Place a large, nonstick frying pan on high heat and, once very hot, char a third of the lemon slices on both sides—about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Continue in this way with the rest.
  3. Put 1/2 cup/120ml of maple syrup and the scraped-out vanilla pod in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with the charred lemon slices, spreading out so they cover the entire bottom, overlapping in places.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment in place, and mix on medium speed to combine. Add the softened butter, eggs, yolk, vanilla seeds, brown sugar, milk, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until combined. The mixture will look as if it’s split a little with some smaller cubes of butter—but that’s okay.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, snipping the base, and pipe the mixture evenly on top of the lemons in the baking dish (piping the mixture ensures the lemons don’t move around too much). Gently smooth over the mixture with the back of a spoon. Fold over the excess parchment paper to cover, then wrap the dish tightly in foil.
  6. Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan (roughly 16 x 11 inches/40 x 28cm). Pour enough boiling water into the pan to come 11/4 inches/3cm up the sides (about 1 quart/1 liter), then bake for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the foil, unwrap the top of the cake, and lift out the baking dish from the water. Set aside for 5 minutes before carefully inverting the whole thing onto a platter, removing the parchment paper to expose the lemons.
  7. Toward the last 10 minutes of cooking, make the lemon maple butter. Put the lemon juice and maple syrup into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, then turn the heat down to low and, when no longer simmering, gradually add the butter cubes a little at a time, whisking with each addition until incorporated. Don’t let the mixture boil at all—you should be left with an emulsified sauce. Remove from the heat.
  8. Drizzle one-third of the lemon maple butter all over the cake and serve warm, with the extra maple butter and crème fraiche alongside.
  9. Make it your own: Try this recipe using kumquats instead of lemons, and orange juice instead of lemon juice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hmoshman
  • besswww
  • Ilovepasta
  • jimbo_johnson96

7 Reviews

Hmoshman April 16, 2023
Does this have a cake-like texture? Wondering if I can substitute the eggs like I do for other cakes?
Also, is this the type of recipe that should be made right before serving? Does it need to be served warm? Can I make it ahead, gently warm it in the oven, and then make the butter topping?
besswww January 28, 2022
Whew, this was good! I halved it because I had a small number of lemons- worked out great (2 whole eggs, 9" oval dish, 60 min).
Ilovepasta January 12, 2022
This was the best thing I’ve ever baked. Unreal!
jimbo_johnson96 January 5, 2022
What a strange recipe. Eating close to untreated lemon slices was kind of gross at times. I did appreciate the acidity to add some depth of flavor to the cake, but lemon rinds don't taste good. Would recommend maybe blanching or salting the lemon slices before including them in the cake.

There wasn't any baking powder included in the recipe, but it was shown in the video. Added a teaspoon, which I feel like might have been too much.
Jane O. January 2, 2022
how much baking powder is needed?
Joseph January 7, 2022
I found a more thorough version of this recipe on NYT cooking (the measurements match this one otherwise for the cake, there are differences in the amount of maple syrup in the glaze), and they list 2 teaspoons of baking powder!
Ingrid January 8, 2022
The NYT Cooking version has a different baking temp: 325. The Ottolenghi book that the recipe comes from says 375, and that's what I used.