We have always had a weakness for old-fashioned desserts, which explains why our recipe box is filled with recipes for crisps, cobblers and upside-down cakes. Lemon Pudding Cake, which goes back to Colonial America, is one of our favorites, and whenever we make it, we are amazed by the transformation that takes place as it bakes.
What goes into the pan as a fluffy mass of beaten egg whites, a couple of tablespoons of flour, and the usual pudding ingredients (sugar, butter and milk) comes out of the oven as a lemony pudding-like layer covered with a spongy cake-like top. If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear an ingredient was left out or a step in the directions was missed.
In fact, what happens is that as the pudding bakes, the beaten whites rise to form a delicate cakey layer while the rest of the batter settles underneath to make a lemon custard pudding.
Besides adding flavor, the lemon juice makes the custard more tender, and the small amount of butter allows the egg whites to rise to their full potential.
According to culinary historians, the recipe for pudding cake is based on a simple custard pudding to which a small amount of flour was added. An early recipe, published more than 150 years ago, was made with either wine or rose water and served with a sweet sauce. A few years later, lemon juice replaced the wine or rose water, but the method for making it stayed the same. It’s the real thing.
Lemon Pudding Cake
This recipe from Glenda Barber of St. James, Mo., yields a light cake layer over a rich lemon pudding. It is wonderful served warm or cold with fresh berries or a raspberry sauce. Be sure to use fresh lemon juice in this yummy dessert.
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup 2 percent low-fat milk
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan or a 6-cup soufflé dish.
2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Separate eggs yolks and whites. Add yolks to butter mixture and beat well. Add lemon juice, salt and flour; beat well. Add milk; stir until well blended.
3. Beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold into lemon mixture. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake 50 minutes, covering with foil for the last 10 minutes if the top gets too brown. Serve warm or chilled with berries. Serves 6.
Per serving: 220 calories, 10g fat, 6g prot., 31g carbs., 0g fiber, 160mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn