It was a dark and stormy night. And the next day wasn’t a lot brighter either. So I made cake.
Another classic! I have versions of this recipe in various old (and new) cookbooks dating back a hundred years or more. As usual, each one is a bit the same and a bit different.
So here’s my take on it.
These are similar to soufflé. But don’t let that scare you. All that means is we’re folding whipped egg whites into a base batter and baking it. We’ll use a water bath to even out the cooking.
First up, room temperature eggs make all of the difference. They beat higher and lighter than cold ones do. Worst case, if your eggs are refrigerator cold, put them in a bowl of warm water (not hot, you don’t want them to start cooking) for fifteen minutes or so. It probably goes without saying but don’t use a cold bowl either. Room temperature is the key.
Second, a little bit of acid (cream of tartar in my case) helps too. In days of old, a chef would use a copper bowl like this one (drool) to beat the eggs but that’s a luxury most of us don’t have so we use the cream of tartar. Same result, more-or-less. (But if you don’t have any, don’t worry about it too much. If you do, it helps.)
By the way, check the date on your cream of tartar before you use it — mine was amusingly old.
I use my hand mixer with its whisk attachment for this but you could also use a stand mixer if you have one. Make sure to scrape down the bowl a couple of times regardless to avoid having half-whipped egg whites hiding on the bottom. (You could use a hand whisk instead, sure, but it will take a while. Been there.)
Third, for me at least, the hardest part of whipping egg whites into soft peaks is knowing when to stop. Too little and they won’t have the air and lightness we want. Too much and they get gritty and lose their smoothness. Just keep an eye on it and you’ll be fine.
And last, when you fold the beaten whites into the base batter, go gently. We want to combine the two into a single batter but we don’t want to lose all the air we whipped in by stirring the heck out of it.
Lemon Pudding Cake
These little lemon cakes are like sunshine on a plate. Not too sweet, very light, and just so good. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, see note)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 lemons, zest and juice (see note)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly butter ramekins. (Or lightly coat with cooking spray or neutral oil.)
Separate eggs. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar (if using) with mixer until soft peaks form.
In a larger bowl, mix milk, lemon zest and juice, and melted butter.
Add dry ingredients (sugar, flour, and salt) and mix well.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter until just mixed.
Divide the batter among your ramekins.
Arrange the ramekins in a baking dish and fill the dish with water until half-way up the ramekins.
Bake for 45-50 minutes.
Remove from oven. Carefully remove the ramekins to a cooling rack.
Once cool, dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Cream of tartar helps when whipping the egg whites but it's not absolutely necessary.
1 lemon = 1 teaspoon of zest and 3 tablespoons of juice.
And the sun started to poke through the clouds by the time I was done. Coincidence?