Wednesday, September 28, 2011

California Lemon Pudding

It would seem that after a nice long summer vacation, real life has finally kicked in--just in time for fall. This week involved a full day of volunteer work, a certain amount of editing, my full 15-hour teaching schedule, and a cold that started right around my second class of the day. Oh yes, and I baked.

I have a rather intense teaching schedule that involves two days of teaching six hours straight, plus a night class. It's pretty tiring while it lasts, but it does give me about 3 days off to do other things. And so I've determined I'll bake on one of those days.

This week I made the California Lemon Pudding, touted as being quick and easy as well as light and creamy and lemony. And indeed, it did come together in less than half an hour, right before I had to leave for a parent-teacher meeting.

So when we got back home, there was pudding (thanks to children who know how to take food from the oven, etc.)! That's definitely a nice weeknight bonus. 
The verdict? I liked this but didn't love it. The top layer is nice, like a light cake, but the pudding on the bottom was a bit too floury for my taste. Maybe it didn't chill enough. I also found it to be a bit too sweet. However, no one actually complained about it, and all 5 little cups disappeared rapidly. So I would recommend it, with less sugar, if you want something just a little special that comes together quickly.

Here's the recipe.

California Lemon Pudding

1 T. (0.5 oz.) soft butter
3/4 c. (5.25 oz.) sugar, divided (consider going down to about 1/2 c. or 3.5 oz.)
2 large eggs, separated
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c. (2 oz.) lemon juice (consider using more lemon juice in place of some of the milk)
2 T. flour
1 c. (8 oz.) milk

Heat the oven to 350. Get out about 5 custard cups and a large pan that can hold them and some water. Butter the custard cups and go ahead and put them in the pan. In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the butter with 1/2 of the sugar (it will remain grainy, given the proportion of butter to sugar) until mixed. Beat in the egg yolks, then the lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, and then the milk, gradually. Wash the beaters and put the egg whites in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt; beat until they hold a soft shape. Add the remaining 1/4 c. sugar gradually, beating until the whites hold a fairly stiff shape. Gradually and carefully fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture. Pour the mixture into the buttered custard cups.
If you have an electric kettle, this is a great use for it. While you're making the lemon batter, heat up a kettleful of water. When all is ready and the water is hot, put the pan with the custard cups in the oven and then pour the water in from the kettle to about 1 inch up the pan. If you don't have a kettle, well, pour hot water into the large pan using your favorite technique. Bake for about 35 minutes (check after 25) until they are puffy and golden (see picture). Remove the cups from the water and let cool (they'll settle quite a bit). When they have cooled to room temperature, refrigerate them. Maida says they're best 3 hours after you bake them, if you can plan your day like that. You can either invert the custard cups onto plates and unmold these, or you can be less fancy and spoon them out of the cups. Guess which one we did? Celebrate that you have a little something for dessert.

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