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RECIPE | The impossible pud that’s ridiculously easy to make

Way easier than making a malva, this 1970s fav is the perfect antidote to dark days and chilly weather

29 June 2022 - 10:30
The impossible lemon pie.
The impossible lemon pie.
Image: Hilary Biller

My lemon tree was dripping with fruit — beautiful orbs of sunshine yellow citrus tucked around dark green leaves.

It was time to make that delicious aperitif limoncello. Looking for other ways to use the generous harvest, I stumbled on an old favourite recipe given a modern makeover by Australian foodie Donna Hay. The Impossible Pie, the origin of the name was a play on the word impossible because it is so easy to make — the pie part comes from the sort of crust it forms in baking.

The recipe appears to have originated in the 1970s. More than likely an American invention, it became a dinner party/Sunday lunch special because of the ease of putting it together. There’s no pastry to make nor any creaming of ingredients needed. The only requirement is gathering the ingredients and whipping them together in a food processor, blender or mixer. If you have don’t have any of these, a hearty hand whisk will do the trick.

I’d forgotten how delicious it is — and served with lashings of custard, cream or ice cream, so yummy and comforting. It’s the kind of pud that can be made the day before or on the day. The ingredients are store cupboard staples. If things like coconut milk throw you off, simply replace with the same amount of milk, or use a non-dairy replacement.

If you don’t like desiccated coconut, leave it out. What it does need is a generous helping of finely grated lemon zest which adds a real freshness and sparkle to the pudding, and fresh lemon juice, not the bottled variety. If you don’t have lemons use oranges or naartjies for a spin on the flavour.

It needs an oven to bake. I made it soon after power had been restored following load-shedding — and just in time before the next outage — and it helped to brighten a grim, dark and cold night.

Try it. I bet it will become a favourite you make over and over again.


Serves 4-6


350ml (1 ⅓ cups) milk

1 x 400g can coconut milk (or replace with extra milk)

60g (¾ cup) desiccated coconut. I found toasting the coconut in a dry pan added a pleasant toasty depth of flavour 

50ml sunflower or canola or use same amount of butter or baking margarine, melted

10ml (2 tsp) vanilla essence

3 large eggs

125ml (½ cup) cake wheat four

200g (1 cup) caster sugar

12.5ml (1 tbsp) finely grated lemon rind

125ml (½ cup)  fresh lemon juice

Icing sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place the milk, coconut milk, oil, vanilla, eggs, flour, sugar, rind and lemon juice in a food processor or blender, scraping down the sides if necessary, and blend until smooth.
  2. Place a one litre baking dish on a baking tray. Pour the mixture in the dish — it’s a runny mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly golden on the top. Remove and set aside to cool for 10 minutes before dusting with icing sugar. It is best served warm and is good on its own, but an extra helping of deliciousness when served with custard, cream or ice cream.

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