Suzi's Blog

Lemon Pudding Cake

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Pudding is something we rarely encounter as adults. We have fond memories of Jell-O boxes and multiple servings of chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream. But pudding now? When Suzen suggests that teams coming for an event at Cooking by the Book finish their hands-on experience with pudding, well pudding cake, there is often some reluctance.

While she cannot twist someone’s arm over the phone, Suzen can be enthusiastic. She’s a believer in this delicate dessert and in the past few months I’ve gotten to eat it once or twice a week as her clients succumb to her enthusiasm. This dessert is perpetually enjoyable. Lemon is a popular flavor, right there after vanilla and chocolate. And the pudding cake has this surprising texture of creamy softness with full mouth feel. It’s not the pudding of Jell-O boxes. And it’s not solid cake. It’s pudding cake and it satisfies everyone who tastes it.

Lemon desserts often pair well with whipped cream and berries. You see in the picture above that we’ve done just that. The berries add a flavor punctuation mark that adds dimension.


Lemon Pudding Cakes

Yield: Eight 6-ounce ramekins

Ingredients:

  • Softened butter for the ramekins
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1-⅛ ounces (1/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ plus ⅛ teaspoon table salt
  • 1-¼ cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream and berries for serving (optional)

Preparation:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter eight 6-ounce ceramic oven-proof ramekins or Pyrex custard cups, or even better as picture: mason jars. Arrange them in a baking dish or roasting pan (a 10×15-inch or two 8×8-inch Pyrex dishes work well).

In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with ⅔ cup of the sugar and the egg yolks until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt and pour in just enough milk to whisk the flour smoothly into the egg yolk mixture. Then whisk in the remaining milk and the lemon juice until smooth. The mixture will be very fluid.

Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer (a hand-held or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) on medium speed until the whites begin to foam, 30 to 60 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat just until the whites hold soft peaks when the beater is pulled away, another 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium. With the mixer running, very slowly sprinkle in the remaining ⅓ cup sugar; this should take about a minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Beat on high speed until the whites hold medium-firm peaks when the beater is pulled away, about another 30 seconds.

Scrape one-third of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, sprinkle the lemon zest on top, and whisk until combined. Gently incorporate the remaining whites into the batter, using the whisk in a folding/stirring motion. The batter will still be thin.

Portion the mixture evenly among the ramekins; the cakes don’t rise much, so you can fill the ramekins to within ⅛ inch of the top. Pull out the oven rack and put the baking dish full of ramekins on the rack. Pour warm water into the dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the tops of the cakes are light golden and slightly puffed, and when touched with a finger, they should feel spongy and spring back a bit but hold a shallow indentation, 25 to 30 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the ramekins to a rack. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before serving, with whipped cream if you like.

Source: Nicole Reese in Fine Cooking Issue 70

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/3.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑400

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Hard Sauce

 

“No, you got it wrong.” Suzen said. “Again.”

“Suzen, the recipe you gave me said sweet potatoes. I wrote the blog based on that.”

“Change it, Sweetie.”

So I am. This wonderful, wonderful dessert is made with pumpkin, not sweet potatoes. Point of full disclosure: one of us at Cooking by the Book did make it with sweet potatoes and it was fine, but it was not the same as pumpkin. So, being obedient to my wife, make this first with pumpkin.

I know that the term bread pudding can generate a cringe. But, trust me, this bread pudding is great. The recipe below suggest raisin bread, but homemade challah is very, very much better.

My suggestion here is to double down on the Hard Sauce, just ladle it on and relish in the cornucopia of rich sweet flavor. You should pour it over the bread pudding, not into your mouth. Suzen got me trying, dribbling on my shirt again, and I was chastised.

On her first bite of this treat, Suzen said, “Oh, my God.” She’s okay with dessert, but  is not a fanatic. This recipe is on her “Do Not Make” list, which mean I’ll have to beg and do work and things before we can both enjoy this. She and I would wolf it down by the bowlful.

You very well might consider this as dessert for a Sunday or holiday meal. Yes, you’ve had bread with your turkey stuffing. But, what if you went with rice for the stuffing and saved the bread for the whiskey? Just consider the possibility. And, you might just want to do a test run, too.

 

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Whiskey Hard Sauce

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon best-quality bourbon or rye
  • pinch of salt

For the bread pudding:

  • 8 cups torn or cubed stale raisin bread (about 1 large loaf)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin [the pie stuff]

Preparation:

To make the sauce, in a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, liquor and salt. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.

For the bread pudding, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish or individual ramekins with cooking spray.

In a large bowl toss together the raisin bread with the pecans, then set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and salt. Toss the sugar mixture over the bread and pecans, then stir well. Drizzle everything with the melted butter, then toss to evenly distribute.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, cream, eggs and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and sweet potatoes, then mix well. Pour the sweet potato-cream mixture over the bread mixture and stir until well blended. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then spoon into the prepared baking dish or ramekins.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes (bake ramekins for just 15 to 20 minutes), or until set.

As soon as the bread pudding comes out of the oven, top with hard sauce so that it melts into the crevices. Serve warm.

Source: Elizabeth Karmel