Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes

Citrus fruit is the star of winter produce. With its sunny color and fresh, vibrant acidity, citrus is a delightful addition to both sweet and savory dishes. One of my favorite citrus fruits is the Meyer lemon. Meyer lemons are a hybrid species, a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon. They have the bracing , fresh flavor of a lemon without the mouth-puckering bite. The Meyer is thin-skinned with zest that is egg-yolk yellow in color. The fruit has an almost floral quality in its scent and flavor; it is quite distinctive. Meyer lemons are in season now and I was thrilled to find them in my local supermarket. The recipe I have chosen is an old-fashioned pudding cake. Some of you may remember it from your childhood; it’s the one that bakes up with a cake layer on top and a smooth lemon sauce beneath. It is simple to make and can be baked in one dish or in separate ramekins. I chose to use individual molds as I think they make a pretty presentation. You can serve the pudding warm or cool it and then chill until serving time. Either way it’s good with a few tart berries on the side or a fluffy spoonful of whipped cream. Here is what you do:

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake (adapted from “Classic Home Desserts” by Richard Sax)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1 generous tablespoon grated Meyer lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 325F, with a rack in the center. If you are using a single baking dish, choose an 8-inch square or a 9-inch oval with a 1 to 1 1/2 quart capacity. For individual puddings, you will need 4-6 ramekins of a 6-8 ounce capacity. Butter the baking dish or ramekins and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, as you would do for a sweet souffle. In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, milk, zest, and lemon juice; pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir until blended. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they from soft peaks.

Fold a little of the egg whites into the lemon mixture; gently fold in the remainder. Pour the batter into your chosen baking dish(es). Place the baking dish or ramekins in a slightly larger pan; set on the center rack of the oven. Pour in enough hot tap water to reach about halfway up the sides of the baking dish(es). Bake until the surface of the pudding is lightly golden, about 35 minutes (20-30 for smaller ramekins).

Cool in the pan(s) on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. For a single baking dish, spoon out portions of the top cake layer with the lemon sauce beneath. The individual ramekins can be inverted onto a serving plate and garnished as you please. A light, flavorful dessert, just right for a cold January night. Enjoy.

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