Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Food #18: Lemon Pudding Cake

In my memory, childhood meals always involved dessert. Maybe not breakfast (of course not breakfast!), but there were cookies and fruit in the lunchbox and sweets after dinner. We gave them up on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent (as well as giving up all chocolate and candy) and it seemed to me a real sacrifice. When I think back on all the meals my mother made, balanced meals with, often, two vegetables and a dessert afterwards, I'm amazed at her productivity, as well as at our relatively controlled waistlines. How did she do it? How did we?

Obviously, I haven't figured it out. I make dessert sometimes, but not most nights. And when I do it's often a casual affair: cookies or brownies that I baked for no particular reason, with fruit or ice cream along with. Pies, cakes, and the like tend to mark some kind of occasion. Though, sometimes, they just mark my desire for cake, I have to admit!

Last night I wanted dessert, and I didn't want cookies. (Nor did I think I had time.) I wanted something slighty sweet, easy, and good. This fit the bill: a lemon pudding cake from Marion Cunningham's Lost Recipes. It is a lemon version of something my mother used to make fairly often, which we called "Devil's Float." In Devil's Float, a chocolate cake floats over a chocolate sauce. In this one, it's lemon. Tart, tasty, and goopy. Everyone loved it.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups milk
4 tbl. butter, melted
3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (this was 2-1/2 lemons, for me)
grated zest of one lemon


Preheat the oven to 350, and butter or spray an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan, or a 1-1/2 quart baking dish.

Mix together 3/4 cup sugar with the egg yolks in a good-sized bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest and the melted butter, then stir in the flour and salt. Finally, mix in the milk. (I used 1%, in case anyone cares.)

Whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar until they are stiff but still moist. (That's Cunningham's rendition; mine were probably still a bit soupy, as I did them by hand, but they were white and glossy.)

Fold the whites/sugar gently into the egg/milk mixture, then pour the whole thing into the prepared pan. Set the pan in a larger pan, and pour in hot water (I had room temperature water and it seemed to work ok) to about halfway up the side. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. You could certainly whip some cream and serve it with that as well, but we didn't and everyone was happy.

Serves 6-8 if they've had a reasonable meal beforehand. I think we have two servings left.

4 comments:

caroline said...

This sounds great! Now to trump up some occasion to make it...

Libby said...

no event necessary, Caroline! Really...

Library Mama said...

This does sound delicious! I make one similar to the Devil's Float you described. We call it Brownie Pudding. This lemon one sounds even better, though.
I smiled when you wrote that you got it from Marion Cunningham's cookbook. I wonder if Richie, Joanie, and Fonzie liked this recipe. :)

Libby said...

LM, I always think that, too, though it's of course the Cunningham who revised the Fannie Farmer cookbook (not to be confused with Marion Rombauer, who revised the Joy of Cooking...)