Everyone knows I’m not much of a baker. I love fruit for dessert, and a treat every once in a while, but for the most part, I’d rather have more salty than sweet. Also, baking is much more limiting in my mind than regular cooking, since you really do need to follow a recipe and pretty exact quantities to avoid your cake collapsing, or what have you.
That said, here’s a relatively easy dessert recipe that I recently encountered while trying to figure out a tart dessert to make for a dinner party. I do like tart desserts and fruit desserts, but I don’t like making crusts or icing cakes, so this recipe for Lemon Pudding Cakes appealed. You will dirty several bowls making this dessert, and whip some egg whites, which can be a pain if you don’t have an electric beater, but other than that the assembly is a snap.
The low-flour content makes their texture incredible: cake-like at the baked top; souffle-like in the middle; and with a delicious, creamy pudding layer at the bottom. They manage to be both lush and not too heavy all at the same time. They’re also great both warm and chilled–I had them both ways–so you could always make them ahead of time. They don’t need any accompaniment, but some fresh berries on top are both beautiful and tasty. We had it with strawberries, but raspberries would be perfect, I think.
Lemon Pudding Cakes
adapted from Food and Wine
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup whole milk (or whatever kind you have around–the recipe even says skim will work)
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Fresh raspberries or strawberries, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray six 6-ounce ramekins or teacups with vegetable oil spray. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with the flour. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter until well blended. Whisk in the milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Pour the lemon mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold half the egg whites into the lemon mixture, combining thoroughly but gently. Gently fold the second half of the egg whites into the lemon mixture, careful to not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins and transfer them to a small roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake the pudding cakes for 35 minutes or until they are puffy and golden on top. Using tongs, transfer the ramekins to a rack or wooden cutting board to cool for 20 minutes. Serve the cakes in the ramekins warm, or at room temperature, with the berries. Serves 6, and can be refrigerated for up to two days.