Sunday, 22 December 2013

Lemon pudding ~ a festive treat at any time of year

This dessert has been a family favourite for as long as I can remember.  The recipe I share here is derived from one in New Zealand's historically most longstanding cookbook, in which is called 'Lemon cheese pudding'.  However, since the reference to cheese is entirely mysterious I have left it out of the name of my recipe.

It is basically a baked custard in which the eggs have been separated, the whites beaten until stiff, after which they are combined with other ingredients just before being placed in the oven, and of course it includes plenty of lemons.
 

Quantities given here make sufficient for 4 generous servings.  If you are making a dessert for two, halve it.  I assure you that everyone will want second helpings, so it's nice to have plenty!
Butter - 2 Tablespoons
Sugar - 1 cup
Flour - 4 Tablespoons
Lemons - the rind and juice of 4 of the small variety of lemons: when I last made this recipe these produced about a teaspoon of zest and 7 tablespoons of juice.
Milk - 2 cups
Eggs - 4
Salt - a pinch
Method:
Locate the baking dishes you will use: The casserole dish or dishes which hold the mixture are baked while standing in a large and probably enamel baking dish filled with water, so the enamel one needs to be big enough to hold the others.  When making suffient for four I use two glass dishes, one large and the other of medium size.

Set the oven to 160 degrees Celsius
Cream the butter and sugar
Grate the rind from the lemons and then juice them
Add the lemon and flour to the creamed butter and sugar
Separate the egg yolks from the whites
Beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff and set aside
Beat the yolks with the milk and combine the liquid with creamed butter and sugar, etc.
The mixture should have a pleasant tang.  If your lemons do not seem to have been particularly flavoursome you could add a further teaspoon of lemon essence.   
Lastly fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites, taking care not to do so too thoroughly.
Next, put the empty baking dish into the oven at a medium height
Place your dish or dishes of mixture into the baking dish and push the rack into the oven
Finally, carefully fill the baking dish with a safe amount of tepid water - and close the door!

There are three vital element of success: 
  • The first is to fold the egg whites in only lightly, so that the mixture doesn't fully combine - the fluffiness then gravitates to the top and the more custardy part to the bottom. 
  • The second is that the water bath is filled with tepid water, which ensures that the bottom part of the pudding will remain nice and gooey whereas the rest of the pudding sets.  Strangely, the original recipe differs in this respect, an early edition states cold water and a later one, hot.  The hot water is definitely a mistake as the whole thing will set solid and the delicate balance of texure and flavour lost - you might as well toss it out.
  • The third is do not overcook it!  Check it after about 30 minutes by carefully tilting the glass dish.  You want the pudding to bulge slightly when you do so, indicating a degree of runniness in the bottom part.  The top is likely to be a little golden, but this may be dependent on the style of oven used.  And as with any baking, the results are always a little different each time.  

In the unlikely event of any pudding being left over after your meal it can sucessfully be stored in the fridge and served cold the following day and be similarly delicious.  It can also be spoooned into little pottles and frozen, to be taken out later as individual treats.
Enjoy!

My other recipes can be found listed together on this page:

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