I don’t know about you, but I hate eating heavy, hot foods in the summer. In the summer, things like pot roast and chili, things that in the winter make me feel comfy and cuddly, just make me feel lethargic and gross when the thermometer climbs above 80.
The unfortunate bit of this story is, I excel at making comfort foods, most of which are in the heavy and hot categories. It is a struggle for me to produce meals that are light in flavor, in temperature, and in weight for the summer months. I have a pasta salad in my rotation, a lemon-sage pasta, and chicken tacos, which can still make you sweat.
This recipe came about when my mom started talking about the lemon pudding cake mix she used to buy when she was young. Apparently citrus pudding cakes were all the rage back then. But my brain heard “lemon” and thought (because it’s my brain, that’s what it does best): lemons are light and flavorful; I bet that would be a great summer dessert!
Well, the prepared mix for this cake is a thing of the past, but several recipes are still floating around out there. I culled techniques from a few and came up with this: a light, intensely lemony cake with a light custard-like pudding at the bottom.
Lemon Pudding Cake
- 4 eggs, separated
- 3 lemons, juiced (about 1/2 C.)
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 1/2 C. milk
- 1/2 C. flour
- 1 1/2 C. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
If you have never made pudding cake before, it’s good to know: pudding is not one of the ingredients. The cake batter produces a pudding at the bottom of the pan as it bakes.
Step 1: beat egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter until combined and thick.
Step 2: combine sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Alternate adding this mixture and the milk to the egg yolk mixture.
Step 3: Beat egg whites until thick (to do this, I poured the lemon liquid into a separate bowl, washed my mixer bowl, and used the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites. You can do it by hand, but it will make your arms tired). Before you beat them, they look like this:
Once they are done, they look like this:
Step 4: Once the egg whites are stiff, pour the lemon liquid into the egg whites while beating on low speed. The batter will have a fluffy, soft-yellow look.
Step 5: Pour batter into an 8×8 square baking pan. Or, if you’re me (and your 8×8 pan rusted out a few months ago) use a round cake pan.
Place it in a shallow pan of hot water in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Make sure to check the water periodically. If too much evaporates, just replace it as the cake is baking. DO NOT let all the water evaporate.
Step 6: While the cake is baking, slice another lemon into extremely thin slices. Place the slices in a small dish.
Pour enough sugar into the dish to cover the lemons. Place it in the fridge and use for garnish.
Step 7: Remove the cake from the oven once it’s done. When you cut into it you can see the cake and pudding layers.
Serve in a bowl with sugared lemons as a garnish.
Sit out on the patio with a glass of iced tea and enjoy your summer!