Thursday, April 12, 2012
I love America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Illustrated, and Cook's Country. I have a mail subscription to Cook's Illustrated, and I tear out and keep probably three-quarters of the recipes in every issue. But I have an online subscription to Cook's Country - which, as far as I can tell, is the simpler, more down-home relative - and if I need a specific recipe, I go there first. Every one I've tried has turned out great, and they tend to be a little less fussy than the ones in Cook's Illustrated.
I've made this lemon pudding cake once before, exactly the way the recipe's written - baked in a single 8x8-inch pan. It's got a creamy, custard-y bottom, with souffle-like cake on top. A little whipped cream balances the tartness really well.
We've been having friends over to enjoy the deck that Allen built, and I thought that individual - and closeable - containers would make this really easy to set out at a party, and easy for guests to serve themselves. It also makes the recipe way more adorable, which is really important.
We also took these over to Allen's parents' house for Easter, and his mom mentioned that she had an old recipe for "lemon cake-top pudding" from her grandmother. We took a look at the recipe, and it looked very much like this one, except with fewer eggs and about one-quarter the lemon juice. Since I found this recipe in the Historic American Recipes section of the CC website, I guess they're true to their word.
Incidentally, here are the jars I used to bake the cakes in. I searched high and low for half-pint wide-mouth jars that I could use for exactly this type of task - but also for lunches and leftover storage - and I couldn't find them anywhere locally. I know it seems ridiculous to order utilitarian canning jars online, but they're great to have around - I make pudding in them all the time.
Individual Lemon Pudding Cakes
Adapted from Cook's Country
Makes 10 individual cakes. These are best the day they're made, but they're good as leftovers, too - just keep them in the fridge, and heat in the microwave for 15 seconds before serving.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons grated zest and 1/2 cup juice from 4 lemons
5 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
2 quarts boiling water
whipped cream, recipes follows
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease ten 8-ounce ramekins or wide-mouth half-pint jars.
Whisk flour and cornstarch in bowl; set aside.
Using a clean mixer bowl and whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add 3/4 cups sugar until whites are firm and glossy, about 2 minutes. Scrape gently into another bowl, and set aside.
Rinse and dry mixer bowl. With mixer on medium-high speed, beat remaining 1/2 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Slowly add milk and lemon juice, mixing until just combined.
Whisk one-third of the egg-white mixture into the batter, then gently fold in remaining whites, one scoop at a time, until well combined.
Place greased ramekins or jars inside two 8x8-inch or 9x13-inch baking dishes, leaving a little space between them, and spoon batter into the ramekins - I used an ice-cream scoop, and found that they took about three scoops each to divide the batter evenly. Carefully place the baking dishes containing the ramekins into the oven and pour boiling water into the baking dishes until water comes halfway up the sides of ramekins.
Bake until the cake tops are slightly golden and edges are beginning to set - about 35-38 minutes. Transfer dishes to a wire rack and let cool about 30 minutes before removing the ramekins from the baking dishes. Serve warm or at room-temperature with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a chilled glass bowl, whip cream with an electric mixer until it begins to thicken. Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until peaks form. Refrigerate.