Today I was trying to finish my family tree on Ancestors.com to one day give to my daughter and any other future children so that they will know where they came from. While taking a break from my research I decided to bake. Sticking with the theme of the past I chose to make a forgotten recipe I came across a few years ago called Lemon Pudding Cake. This cake is thought to have been a variation off of flour puddings from the late 1700’s like one found in Amelia Simmons’ 1796 cookbook “American Cookery”.
Although the flour pudding recipe from Ms. Simmons is said to be an abomination to our modern taste buds, I must say this lost recipe is magical on so many levels. Not only does it taste great but one batter manages to create two separate layers… the top being airy like a souffle and the bottom dense and creamy as a custard. Although considered a cake, this dessert is somewhere between a cake and a custard.
You may be wondering what causes such culinary sorcery. Well it all starts with the batter, which is rather atypical. It contains very little flour, a ton of egg, and a lot more liquid than usual. It is the large amount of liquid that actually causes the magic. The water in the liquid ingredients actually sinks to the bottom of the dish and takes the batter with it. This leaves the egg whites to float to the top and give the airy souffle-like cake over the custard base.
Although practically forgotten in our modern era this cake has proven to me to stand the test of time. I’m sure my grandfather would have loved to have tried this since he had such a love for Lemon Meringue Pie and this has all the same tastes of Lemon Meringue Pie but in a cake/custard hybrid.
Notes: To have the most prevalent lemon flavor, it takes fresh squeezed lemon juice and a bit of lemon extract. Do nut use bottled lemon juice. Be sure to use the cornstarch and not substitute more flour as it firms the custard base without distracting from the lemon flavor. To prevent the top layer of egg whites from deflating, add the sugar slowly and evenly over the egg whites while whipping. This will help stabilize them and result in a high, fluffy golden cake. To keep the custard base from curdling like scrambled eggs while baking, it is essential to put the ramekins in a hot water bath. This keeps the base from cooking too quickly and results in a creamy custard. This formula serves 6 and is best served warm or at room temperature the day it is made.
Lemon Pudding Cake
- ¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp. Cornstarch
- 1 ¼ cups Sugar; divided
- 5 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened
- 2 tsp. Pure Lemon Extract
- ½ cup Fresh Lemon Juice; about 4 Lemons
- 5 Eggs; separated
- 1 ¼ cups Whole Milk; room temperature
- Boiling Water
- Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Heat oven to 325°. Grease 6 Ramekins and place inside a large roasting pan.
- Mix flour and cornstarch together in a bowl. Set aside. With an electric mixer, beat ½ cup sugar, butter, and lemon extract on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to medium-low and add the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated. Slowly add the milk and lemon juice, mixing until just combined.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. As mixer continues to run, slowly and evenly add the remaining sugar until the whites become firm and appear glossy. Whisk 1/3 of the whites into the cake batter. Gently fold the remaining whites, one scoop at a time, until well combined.
- Spoon the batter evenly into each prepared ramekin. Carefully place pan on the lowest oven rack and pour boiling water into the pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the surface becomes golden brown and the edges are set. The center should jiggle slightly if gently shaken, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes. Serve while warm or at room temperature.
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