Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to Make "Game of Thrones" Lemon Cakes

As HBO's Game of Thrones premiere quickly approaches, I know many folks (myself included) are planning a get-together to celebrate. HBO was kind enough to give us a wonderful Lemon Cakes recipe that everybody can include in their party spread, so I decided to give it a try in order to determine exactly how good, fair, or blah it really was before serving it to my guests on Sunday. I called up my mother (she's the hand model in all my pictures below) and we whipped up a batch.

Since I had a hard time finding many people online that had made this and then talked about it, I decided to report on it myself. See the details and a two-years-later-update after the break.

UPDATE: Three Seasons Later
April 15, 2013

Since I first created this post two years ago, I've made these Lemon Cakes every year for our annual Game of Thrones season premiere gatherings. I've also made them intermittently throughout the years because they're just so danged tasty. This recipe has truly become one of my absolute favorites. It's a great summer time (or any time) dessert because it's light and citrusy, and they're only about 100 calories each which means you could eat two of them and still not completely destroy your diet.

Recently, I tried a variation in which I substituted orange juice in place of the lemon juice thereby making Orange Cakes. Oranges, being pretty sweet to begin with, made for a much sweeter dessert, and while the cakes were still pretty tasty, they just didn't have the same appeal. Also — and this could have just been a fluke — the pudding part of the cake didn't set up quite as well and tended to be runny. If I ever try to make Orange Cakes again, I'll definitely use less sugar.

I also plan to make another variation using limes (Lime Cakes!). I haven't tried it yet, but I think they'll be more successful than the orange variety since limes are no sweeter than lemons. I'll update this post after I've tested them out.

And finally... season three is gonna be epic. Valar morghulis indeed.

I love watching the show with people who haven't read the books because it lets me relive that moment when something completely unexpected happens. It's great. :)

Before we get started, we'll need the following ingredients and materials:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (plus a little extra for dusting the ramekins)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon of all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup of buttermilk (do NOT use low fat - trust me)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • zest of 1 ½ lemons
  • a little powdered sugar for garnish
  • six 4-ounce ramekins
  • a mixer (a handheld will work fine)
  • 3 bowls
  • zester
So go ahead and preheat your oven to 300 degrees, then butter and lightly sugar your six 4-ounce ramekins. (You can use non-stick cook spray instead of butter.)

Now beat the egg whites in a small or medium sized bowl until soft peaks form; set this aside when done.

In another small bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, and salt. Set aside.

In a third medium sized bowl, use your handheld mixer (or stand mixer with a whisk attachment if you have one or those) to combine the buttermilk, lemon juice, egg yolks, and lemon zest. After everything is well combined and smooth, you gradually add the flour mixture.

Now you can put away your mixer (be sure to scrape off the zest from the spinners!). 

Next, gently fold in the egg whites. It's a little difficult because the egg whites kinda float on top of the liquid, but just keep with it and they'll eventually sort of mix together. It's ok if they're a little lumpy; you don't want to smush all the fluff out of the egg whites.

After this is folded together, you need to go ahead and get some almost-boiling water ready for use in your pan. Fill a medium sized pot with water and set it to cooking on your stove. It needs to be nearly boiling; steaming and maybe just starting to bubble.

Now back to the lemon cakes. Divide the batter evenly among your six ramekins. We used a gravy ladle.

Gently place the filled ramekins into a pan (we used a large casserole dish) that is deep enough to hold water that will come half way up the side of the ramekins. This helps the cakes cook more evenly.

Don't fill your pan/casserole dish with the water until AFTER you get it into the oven. That way you don't burn yourself when you try to pick up a dish containing nearly-boiling water and spill everything all over your kitchen floor.

Once everything is in the oven, and you've filled the pan with water, lightly cover everything with a sheet of aluminum foil. It doesn't have to be on there tightly, just enough to keep direct heat off of the tops.

Bake for about 25 minutes then carefully take off the aluminum foil and continue to bake for about 15 minutes until very lightly browned on top (I ended up baking mine for 20 minutes instead of 15 - it will vary from oven to oven).

After they're done, take them out of the oven and let them cool off for about 5 minutes until they're ok to touch.

Then remove them from their water bath and allow to cool a little longer, or you can go ahead and plate them. Simply set a plate face-down on top of a ramekin, then turn the whole thing upside down so that the ramekin is upside-down on the plate. Give it a tap and a little wiggle and the cake should plop right out. Dust everything with a little powdered sugar, and voilĂ !

Delicious, moist, oh so tasty Lemon Cakes.

They don't exactly have what I would call a "cake" consistency. They're a little more spongey, but also a little like bread pudding because they're so moist. [*UPDATE* ~ Turns out these little gems are technically categorized as a steamed pudding. :) ]

It was so delicious I ate it right up. :)

In my opinion, they were best when served warm, but were still very good at room temperature. I liked them least when they were cold because they seemed to be more dense and I just didn't think they tasted as good. Take my opinion with a grain of salt, though, because other people on the internet have said they like them best cold. To each his own!

I guess that's pretty much it from start to finish. I hope this was helpful to whoever reads it! If you use my guide to make Lemon Cakes, post a comment and let me know how they turned out! :)

Happy Baking!


  1. Looks Great! Yours looked better than mine did, plus I'm terrible at taking pictures. I'll hire you to do my next batch, ok?

  2. haha It helps to have a good natural light source. I took my pics in my mother's kitchen where she has a really large window, so there's a lot of good light. Photoshop helped a little too. ;)

  3. Oh my goodness your post is like a thousand times better than mine. That's awesome that we share so much in common. :)

  4. Thanks! I should do more recipes like you do; I only have this one to my repertoire.

    LOVED the brownie recipe you recently posted, by the way. I found a really good chocolate cupcake recipe not too long ago that you'd probably also like.

  5. Made these for the GOT season four premier. As my guest were eating them Shae placed a plateful in front of Sansa to get her to eat...to cool :-)

  6. This look delicious!! I have one question though, where I'm from buttermilk is very rare, so I usually use yogurt instead. Can I do the same for this recipe? and if I can, how much should I use?

    1. I would probably try this instead of subbing yogurt:

      It's easy, and should work fine. Let me know how it turns out!

  7. This will make the 4th day this week that I'm making the Lemon Cakes. I've tried topping them with lemon glaze, candied lemons, and just lemon slices. Each attempt is better than the last. Friends, family, and coworkers are starting to call me Sansa.

  8. Looking forward to trying these tonight for the season finale! I need to prepare them early unfortunately. Do you think it is ok to reheat them in the microwave or oven just before? Should I keep them in their ramekins and then reheat or plate them first and reheat later.

    1. They are perfectly tasty reheated in the microwave for about 6-10 seconds. It doesn't take much.

      I've never left them in the ramekins long after baking. I usually pop 'em all out and keep them refrigerated in some tupperware or some other covered container. When we're ready to eat them, I plate them and nuke them one at a time for a few seconds until they're warm (not hot).

  9. Instead of ramekins, would this work with a 12-cup muffin pan? If so, what baking adjustments would I need?

    1. I honestly don't know. I would think that it'd work, but they'd probably be a little difficult to get out of the muffin tin by dumping out as intended; and since the little cakes are quite soft, trying to get them out with a fork or knife might tear them up. I think they might also cook a little faster in a muffin tin since it's darker and thinner than a ramekin.

      That said, I think it'd be worth giving it a try. If you do, please post back here and let me know how it goes!

    2. I just made some for tonight's premier in a muffin pan and had to do some trial and error with a couple batches before getting it right. The batter is only enough to stretch to 9 of the muffin holes, if you try to do all 12, your cakes will be very very tiny. Also make sure to thoroughly grease the pan or else they WILL stick. I placed my muffin pan on top of a jelly roll sheet filled partially with water, kept the same cook times, and other than that, they turned out great!

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