Sometimes recipes come from the strangest, most unexpected places. They can come from a flash of creativity connected to absolutely nothing, they can be inspired by eating something amazing or even by a location, they can be passed down from generation to generation or given like a secret gift from friend to friend. The recipe for this lemon pudding cake came to me from of all places, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Only in our digital age would it have found its way to me as it did.
In the Fall of 2009 I sent out a tweet, asking for lemon dessert recipes. Robyn Eckhardt, a professional travel/food writer who also writes one of my favorite blogs Eating Asia replied, asking if I’d ever made Lemon Pudding Cake. I said no and she emailed me a scanned page from an cookbook called Classic Home Desserts, one I can only presume made its way from the US with her when she moved to Asia. In no time like the present could I have received a copy of a recipe from an print book so quickly from the other side of the world. I’ve said it before; I love technology!
December of that year was a difficult one; a family illness caused us to scale our Christmas dinner way back, but I still cooked, mostly as a way to relieve my stress. I made this lemon pudding cake for dessert on Christmas Eve and could not believe how fantastic it was.
Fast forward to this month and my Meyer lemon tree is once again full of lemons. I got some lovely porcelain ramekins as a gift this year and when planning to make desserts for the Soup Swap Party, I thought I’d try to make these as individual little cakes instead of in one large pan as I had before. My computer had crashed this past December (wow, is that month always so rough?) and even though I lost all my emails, I found the scanned printed copy in my file folder of recipes. My version is pretty much faithful to the original though I have doubled it and made a couple of tweaks.
When the cakes cook, they separate into two layers; the bottom has a soft texture, almost like lemon curd and the top is like a fluffy souffle. They are really good warm out of the oven, but also hold up ok if they need to be made in advance. The cake shrinks a little when chilled and looks better when still warm or at room temperature. Unlike a souffle, the top does not fall or sink much after coming out of the oven. If serving for a dinner party, I would recommend making it a few hours in advance and not refrigerating.
Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes
Printable Recipe in PDF
1 Tbsp butter for buttering the baking dish
6 large eggs, separated
2 cups milk
2.5 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
- Heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Butter the baking dish or ramekins. You will need a roasting pan large enough to put the baking dish or ramekins inside and then be able to add some water. Have everything ready to go.
- Separate the eggs and put the whites in a bowl large enough to whip them. In a medium sized bowl combine the yolks with the milk, lemon zest and lemon juice.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the wet mixture (yolks, zest and juice) to the dry mixture and stir until blended.
- Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites (in their separate bowl) until soft peaks form.
- Fold the whipped egg whites, about 2 cups at a time, into the bowl with the lemon batter until it is all combined. Be careful not to over mix so it goes flat.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans. For the 6 oz ramekins, I filled them up until about 1/2″ from the top.
- Set the baking dish or ramekins inside the larger roasting pan and add hot water until it reaches about half way up the sides of the baking dish.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until set. The top will puff up and become golden but the bottom will still be very soft.
- Remove from the oven and from the roasting pan and set the baking dish on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Best served warm or room temperature.
This recipe made 11 of the 6 oz ramekins, but it can also be made in a 9’x13″ baking dish, or cut it in half and use an 8″x8″ baking dish. The portions in the ramekins are perfect for individual desserts, but probably were too big for the party I had when there were lots of other dessert choices too. Next time, I may try them in even smaller containers.