Lemon Sponge Custard (dairy free)


The bottom layer of this dessert is a rich lemony custard, while the top forms into a delicate light sponge. This makes an elegant special treat. This is a dairy free and natural sweetener version of a Joy of Cooking recipe that I adapted.

But you can also make these with butter and milk to revert it back to a dairy version.

I’ve made this with sprouted wheat flour and white spelt flour. Both turned out wonderful. With the sprouted wheat flour it was a little more dense, but only a bit more. If you do end up using white flour, you will only be using three tablespoons for the whole dessert, so it’s a very small amount. If you wanted to try to make this gluten free, it seems to me that it would be easy to substitute a gluten free flour. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

I’ve also played around with the sweeteners a bit. I used the paste like coconut/palm sugar with wonderful success as well as half dry coconut sugar and half honey. The recipe seems to be very forgiving as both turned out great, so I think that you could use what you like with good success. If you use 100 percent honey, however, it could be a little overpowering, so use honey in a combination with another sweetener. I think that maple sugar would work great as well.


Lemon Sponge Custard

6 Servings

Before you get started, make sure that you have the right equipment for a baked custard. You will need 6, six ounce ramekins and a large enough casserole dish to contain them all without them touching each other (or you can split them up into two smaller casserole dishes). You could also use a 9 x 2 round pan instead of the ramekins, as long as you have a pan large enough to contain it. Lightly oil, with coconut oil, the ramekins and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Put some water in a tea kettle on to boil for the water bath.

Mash together in a medium bowl with a fork

    2 tablespoons coconut oil
    2/3 cup of sweetener (See note above: I used coconut/palm sugar or a coconut/palm sugar and honey combo)
    1/8 teaspoon salt

To this mixture, mix in:

    3 large egg yolks

Gradually mix in:

    3 tablespoons sprouted wheat/spelt flour, or white flour

Then, gradually mix in:

    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    2 to 3 teaspoons grate lemon zest

Stir in:

    I cup of premium coconut milk

Then, beat in a very clean bowl, until stiff but not dry.

    4 large egg whites, at room temperature

Gently mix the egg whites into the the first mixture, just until it is thoroughly blended. Divide between the ramekins (or pour all of it into the larger 9 x 2 pan). Place these into the large pan, which will serve as the water bath (you may wish to place some paper towels or a tea towel on the bottom of the larger pan to keep them from sliding around).

When the water is boiling, very carefully place the casserole dish with the ramekins into the oven. Then very carefully pour hot water in the casserole dish, until the water reaches about half way up the ramekins, making sure that you don’t get water into the ramekins and that you don’t burn yourself. Close the oven door and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of the custard comes out nearly clean. Let stand in the water bath for ten more minutes after you have removed it from the oven.

You can serve these warm, at room temperature, or chilled. They would be wonderful with a raspberry sauce, or fresh berries as well.Enjoy!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Lea says

    This sounds and looks absolutely wonderful!!
    This might be kind of a random question, but I have started to try to use lots of coconut oil/milk in my recipes thanks to your suggestions. I find that everything I have tried this with ends up with a coconut flavor (even if I bake it, or if it’s so minor). It is certainly sweet and I don’t mind it, but it’s hard to “sneak” the healthy stuff in for my non-conforming husband. Does something like this, that is “lemon” also have the coconut taste as well?? Or maybe since you eat it so often you don’t taste it as “coconut” but as what things taste like?? Thanks for your help. 🙂

  2. KimiHarris says


    I don’t think I am a good judge, because I have gotten so used to coconut milk in things that we really don’t taste it anymore. But to me, these dessert was so lemony I didn’t really taste the coconut milk. Like I said though, it could just be that I don’t taste it much anyway!

    I also didn’t like coconut milk in things that much until I was taken off of dairy, and then I made a radical turn in my taste buds and LOVE it now. But I understand where your husband is coming from. If you all can have dairy, you could try to find a good source of milk (not ultra-pasteurized, or homogenized) and make it with that!

  3. says

    This looks amazing! I cannot wait to try it. Thanks for posting such yummy healthy recipes. It is so wonderful to have a great reliable resource. 🙂

  4. says

    How spring-y and luscious and I love everything lemon. I just bought palm sugar for my first time – it has such a bizarre texture…almost like cotton candy! Can it be used in cookies 1 for 1 as a sub for sugar?

    KH: It would be a bit wetter then dry sugar, but you could try! Let me know if it works. 😉

  5. says

    This looks very tasty, it’s making me hungry! If I were cooking an Easter meal, this would be on my list of things to consider for a dessert.

  6. D says

    I went to Whole Foods and saw evaporative palm sugar. Will that be OK to use? Whole Foods did not have the pasty plam sugar.

  7. D says

    Sorry: evaporated palm sugar (typo)…Also, there was coconut power at Whole Foods. Can those sugars be used?

    KH: I find that some of the evaporated palm sugars have a less sweet flavor (a bit more like rapadura, but not as sweet). So it will have a bit of a different taste, but I think it should still work. It will also make the dessert a little darker. What company does coconut power? I hadn’t heard of it before. Let me know if you try and how it came out!

  8. Divakitty says

    I just made this, and they turned out great!
    I used small, thick-walled mugs for the custard cups.

    At my first taste, I actually teared up a bit, because I felt I was tasting my long-gone grandmother’s famous lemon meringue pie!

    The recipe is indeed forgiving. I used a mix of turbinado & agave, and I used all the zest & juice of two lemons, which turned out to be almost twice the specified amount. But they came out just perfect at 40 minutes. Zingy from the extra lemon!

    I’ll be making a double batch for a potluck Easter party!
    And I can’t wait to try it with lime! And maybe some shredded coconut in, & on top… 🙂

    Thanks as always, Kimi!

  9. says

    I don’t think I have ever commented here, but I so enjoy your blog. I am having difficulty finding coconut oil. Where does one find it? Suggestions?

  10. says

    Hi Kim. I love your blog–wish I could eat at your house! I have a business question. Could you tell me what ad network you use for your ads? I am having such a problem coming up with a good solution, and I think the ads on your site are really great. I’ve worked with different companies that promise to get the right ads on my site, and the current one has ZERO food ads!

    Thanks so much,
    Karen Hochman

    • KimiHarris says

      Hi Karen,

      I am part of realfoodmedia.com, and we are just starting up our own ad network. It is frustrating trying to get good ads, isn’t it! Ann Marie from Cheeseslave.com is the one finding all of the sponsors and setting things in order for it. You could ask her if it will open to more people in the future, if you want. 🙂

  11. says

    I absolutely love, love, love this site. Thought I would try to give back and answer a question about where to find Coconut Oil. I buy the largest size (54 oz) because it’s cheaper, but Vitacost.com has the best price (Vitamin Shoppe usually also has the same price for the oil, too). I’ve found other items there to be much lower in price, and the shipping is cheap! Hope this helps.

    • Renata says

      I buy it there also and many times, if you spend over $25 on their brand, they grant free shipping. And the coconut oil is extra virgin.

  12. says

    Oh, forgot. I think the best brand of coconut oil is Nutiva, but I’ve seen a number of other good ones that are raw, virgin coconut oils.

  13. deb says

    for the custard, can i use any other flour other than wheat or spelt flour..i can’t wait until i can make the millet root recipe…thanks

  14. DotMcKenzie says

    Yummy ♥♥ Made it gluten free with rice flour and used powdered sweetener which I had on hand – only 1/3 cup – and it really is the best GF dessert I have ever tasted. I am diabetic and can’t wait for my Gluten and Lactose intolerant friend to taste it!!! Thank you!!!

  15. Renata says

    This recipe was delicious but I made a few modifications…I made it dairy using butter and milk. And instead of making it lemon flavored, I made it vanilla cranberry for myself and cranberry, maple syrup chocolate for my fiance for valentine’s day. It was very good…I used good quality 100% cocao and mixed with equal parts grade B maple syrup and made a glaze on top. It solidified in the fridge. Yummy!


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