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With an exploding centre, these lemon lava cakes really are the spectacle! By Rachel Khoo, these desserts pair zingy lemon sauce with a light lemon sponge.


What do you get when you cross an Amalfi lemon, Vesuvius and a cake? A lemon lava cake! OK, I know my joke is appalling, but that’s how I got the idea for this recipe. The Amalfi coast is blessed with an abundance of citrus fruits, which line the coastal roads that cling to the cliffs. This little cake erupts like the nearby Mount Vesuvius, with a zingy hot lemon curd. It’s dessert with attitude: a punchy lemon flavour and an exploding centre.

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Juice of 3 lemons (approx. 110ml)
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
A pinch of sea salt
50g cold unsalted butter; cubed
For the sponge:
100g soft unsalted butter, plus extra to grease ramekins
80g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp to dust ramekins
2 eggs
2 tbsp whole milk
Zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
100g plain flour

Essential kit

You will need a disposable piping or food bag and 6 x 120ml ramekins.

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Place all the ingredients for the lemon curd, apart from the butter, in a medium saucepan on a gentle heat and whisk continuously for 5-8 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Whisk in the butter, cube by cube. Take off the heat once all the butter has dissolved. Pour into a wide bowl and cool for around 20-30 minutes, or until room temperature. Pour into a disposable piping bag or a heavy-duty food bag, and refrigerate until using.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan). Butter the ramekins and dust with sugar.

To make the sponge, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Lightly beat the eggs and gradually add them to the mix, beating all the time, followed by the milk and lemon zest. Sift the flour into the mix and incorporate well. Divide the cake batter between the ramekins until just over half full.

Take the piping or food bag and snip off the corner. Insert the tip into the centre of each batter-filled ramekin. Pipe the curd into each one until the ramekins are two-thirds full. Place on a baking tray.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and spring back when touched.

Immediately run a knife around the edges of the cakes before turning out from the ramekins on to plates. Serve straight away.


Make sure not to let the curd boil, as this will make it split and give it an eggy taste.

The leftover lemon curd is delicious swirled into yoghurt.

You can bake these from frozen. Simply fill the ramekins as per the recipe and place in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan) and cook for about 25 minutes.

Preparation time: 25 minutes. Cooling time: 20-30 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

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