This lemon pudding cake is so easy to make and the result is so comforting with a wonderful lemon tang. The mixture separates slightly during baking to give a sponge-like mixture on the top and lemon curd-like sauce on the bottom. No wonder it also goes by the name lemon delicious.
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I have always been more of a fan of citrus desserts than chocolate ones. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy some chocolate treats, but I can be a little picky, and I'd nearly always choose something lemon or lime flavored first.
Despite that, though, I seem to have shared a surprisingly small number of citrus desserts and treats. Those that I have are certainly favorites, like French lemon yogurt cake, lemon madeleines and lime mascarpone cheesecake shooters. But it's about time to add some more.
This lemon dessert is perfect for when citrus is actually in season: winter. It's baked in the oven and has all that comfort food factor, with a spongey top and lemon curd-like sauce formed on the bottom. Best of all, it's really easy.
Origins and variations
I have titled this "lemon pudding cake" but really, in the countries it is most popular, it would never be called that. This is a classic dessert in Australia and New Zealand, as well as the UK where it most likely originates.
In Australia/New Zealand you may well see it as lemon delicious or as lemon pudding, while in the UK it would always just be lemon pudding. For those in the US, remember elsewhere "pudding" means "dessert" rather than just the custard-like mixture. Hence, for the US "pudding cake" makes a little more sense. Oh, the joys of different versions of English.
Back to the dessert. Technically, it can be made a couple different ways. Some don't separately beat the egg whites, and some add more flour and butter. The flour can be self raising rather than plain as well. These differences can make the top part a little more cake-like rather than lighter, but the principle is the same.
This is also very similar to what would be called a self-saucing pudding. However for those, you typically don't beat the egg whites separately. Instead you pour part of the liquid component over the top before baking. This then sinks down to give a sauce at the bottom. In other words, the end result is pretty similar, just a slightly different method to get there.
Here I have gone with what seems the more common method: beating the egg whites separately to get some air in them, separately mixing the other ingredients and then folding the two together. It's really that easy.
What is a water bath?
If you've ever made a baked cheesecake, there's a good chance you used the technique of cooking it in a water bath, also called a bain Marie. This is where the dish that holds whatever you are cooking is placed in another dish filled with hot water so that water goes part way up the outside of the dish.
This cooking method helps to cook more gradually and evenly. Like I say, it's popular for baked cheesecakes, but also other dishes like the dessert flan and Japanese chawanmushi (savory egg custard).
It's not just an oven method, either - you can also use it on the stovetop and it is how you typically make lemon curd, some custards and can be used to melt chocolate, for example.
Here, the technique helps to give the lovely end texture. The top doesn't overcook and burn and you get that lovely gooey sauce at the bottom. And that's what makes this nostalgic dessert special.
Don't worry about the texture!
One thing worth pointing out is that the mixture can look a bit strange before you cook it. You may have a batter that looks like it is curdled or lumpy. Don't panic - it sorts itself out as it bakes.
Just make sure your lumps of egg white are not too big, but at the same time try not to over-mix. You don't want to lose the air you just beat into the whites.
What type of baking dish should you use?
You have a choice here of either using a deeper small casserole or a slightly wider, shallower dish. You could also use a baking tin, but make sure it seals (or else wrap the outside with foil) so that water doesn't get in or pudding cake out. Baking in individual ramekins is also an option.
Just be aware, if you have a larger surface area over the top, you will get relatively more sponge-like top to runny curd-like mixture underneath. Also, if you use ramekins they will cook a little quicker.
It's worth keeping an eye on this as it cooks so that you take it out at the right time. You are looking for the top to be a nice light golden color, look dry and it should bounce back a little when you touch it. Ovens can vary, so start checking it at, say, around 25 minutes.
If it's still wet on top, it isn't cooked enough. On the other extreme, it should not be dark brown or burning, nor overly firm. If so, you won't get much, if any, of the nice curd-like mixture at the bottom.
This will delicious on it's own, but you can also serve it with a dollop of heavy cream/double cream.
This lemon pudding cake is so easy to make, with only a few ingredients, and makes such a delicious, comforting and tasty dessert. It has a great balance of sweetness and tartness, as well as a wonderful mix of textures. It might be a little old fashioned to some, but it's one worth bringing back and enjoying over and over.
Try these other comforting desserts:
- German sweet dumplings (Dampfnudel)
- Pear clafoutis
- Spanish rice pudding (arroz con leche)
- Plus get more dessert recipes in the archive.
Lemon pudding cake (lemon delicious)
- 2 eggs divided
- 2 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter 37g, softened
- ⅔ cup sugar 133g
- 1 lemon zest ie zest from 1 lemon
- 1 lemon juice approx 60ml/1/4 cup
- ⅔ cup milk 160ml
- ¼ cup all purpose flour 35g plain flour
- Preheat the oven to 355F/180C. Set some water to boil to use in a large baking dish/tin that will hold the baking dish you will use for the dessert itself. Lightly butter a baking dish with an approximate capacity of 3 cups (700ml, see below).
- Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and keep the yolks to one side, separately. Beat the egg whites to a medium-firm peak and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, cream together the softened butter, sugar and lemon zest until glossy. Add the egg yolks and mix in well. Then add in the lemon juice, milk and flour and mix everything so that they are well mixed.
- Take a little of the egg white and mix into the yolk-milk mixture so that it breaks up and lightens the mixture a little. Then add in the rest of the egg whites and fold them in. Don't worry if your mixture looks a little lumpy and uneven - this is normal. You don't want to mix it so much that you lose all the air, but also try to avoid having large pieces of egg white remaining.
- Pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish then place this inside the other dish/tin. Carefully pour in boiling water into the outer dish, taking care not to get any in the dessert itself, so that the water comes approximately halfway up the outside of the dish.
- Carefully transfer the dishes to the oven and bake for approximately 30 - 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and springy to touch.
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