Lemon Custard ‘Cakes’
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
Ever plan what you know is going to be a pretty heavy meal for guests and think ‘Who’s going to want dessert after that? I mean, do people really have any room left after a plate (or two) full of meatloaf and mashed potatoes?’
Here in France, a dinner party is not complete without dessert. There is also typically a cheese course between the main dish and dessert – if my main is already calorie-laden, I skip this rich tradition and blame my American roots. But, I still like a little something sweet to end a meal.
So I am always on the lookout for new dessert recipes that are not overly decadent, but satisfy that sweet tooth. That is one reason I love this recipe (skim milk!), but also because it can be made ahead and is not too fussy to make – the only inconvenience is all the bowls you have to wash.
One other note – these little guys have an interesting texture. Part is slightly pudding-like and the top is lightly cakey. My mom was slightly perturbed by the double texture, but I think it makes it interesting. And our good friends Cecile and Philippe, who are the biggest fans and critics of my cooking (brutally honest is their game), thought this was a hit.
Lemon Custard ‘Cakes’
Active time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 35-40 minutes
Need: 6 little ramekins (around 6-ounces)
¾ cup (160 g) sugar
1/3 cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons (30 g) softened unsalted butter
1 cup (240 ml) skim milk (yes, skim!)
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest (or just 1 if you want a little less lemony)
¼ teaspoon salt
Fresh berries and whipped cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C). Lightly grease the ramekins with vegetable oil spray or butter and place in a roasting pan that is taller than the ramekins.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and set aside. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the egg yolks with the butter until well blended (about 1 min). (If you don’t have a hand mixer, you can use a whisk) On low-speed, beat in the milk, lemon juice and lemon zest for about 2 minutes. Pour the lemon mixture into the sugar/flour mix and beat on low until smooth.
Clean the beaters (or whisk). In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until you get firm peaks (about 2 min). Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture.
Pour the batter into the ramekins, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the top. Pour hot water into the roasting pan (around the ramekins) until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the lower half of the oven and let the cakes bake for about 35 minutes (up to 40 depending on the size/shape of your ramekins). Take them out of the oven when the tops are puffy and golden and the cakes pull slightly away from the sides of the ramekins.
Take the ramekins out of the water bath (put on racks if possible) and let them cool for 20 minutes.
Serve the cakes in the ramekins or run a knife around the edges and flip them over to pop them out gently. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best served with fresh berries and whipped cream.
These can also be made up to 2 days before and refrigerated (let them get to room temp or warm them in the oven before serving).
And bon appétit!
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/lemon-pudding-cakes