Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Warm Lemon Pudding Cake

Today may not be the first official day of spring, but it was certainly the first day that has felt like spring. And I was lucky enough to have this beautiful day off work. The weather was perfect and I spent the majority of the day outside, on my porch swing reading the second book in the Vampire Academy series. Nothing like an easy read for a lazy day.

While eating lunch, I happened to be looking through the April edition of Cook's Illustrated and came across their recipe for Lemon Pudding Cake. While I'm sure their  recipe was dead on, it also involved a lot of steps, which in turn would result in a lot of dishes having to be washed. So I did what all great cooks do, I improvised and skipped a bunch of steps that didn't seem necessary. My cakes turned out very lemony and perfect pudding-to-cake ratio.

Lemon Pudding Cake
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated April 2014 and Land O'Lakes
Serves 4

1 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large eggs, separated PLUS 1 large egg white
3 Tbsp. lemon zest (3 lemons)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup half-and-half (or milk)
3/4 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/4 tsp. lemon extract (optional, adds a stronger lemony flavor)

Preheat oven to 325. Butter 4 8oz ramekins or an 8x8 inch baking dish.

In bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and 1 cup of sugar. Add in egg yolks and lemon zest. Mix until well combined. Scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add in flour and salt, mixing until combined. Add in half-and-half and the lemon juice. This will have the consistency of milk. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat egg whites and remaining 2 Tbsp. of sugar until soft peaks form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture.

Gently pour into the prepared ramekins.

Place ramekins into a large pan and fill the pan one-third to halfway with cold water. The water level determines the pudding to cake ratio. I like an equal part of cake to pudding so I filled the water halfway up the side of the ramekins. Most recipes call for doing it a third of the way.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until cake is set and top is slightly golden. Pudding layer should register 172 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

Let cool before serving. Top with powdered sugar, blueberry compote, fresh berries, or just invert it onto a plate and serve.

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