Oh my goodness, you’re going to absolutely love this recipe! It comes, slightly adapted, from Rachel Allen’s Irish Family Food, a beloved cookbook. With spring here, it makes a perfect addition to the Dessert For Two series – scaled down a bit, that is.
This recipe is magic. Magic! As the pudding bakes, it separates into layers of spongy cake and a warm, lemon custard (think: lemon curd) on the bottom. Basically it tastes like warm lemon bars only with the crust on top. And the rim of the baking dish gets that kind of sticky, caramelized crispy edge. So darn irresistible!
Another little tweak that really upped the lemon flavor: instead of plain milk, substitute buttermilk. Seriously, is there anything better than the tang of buttermilk paired with lemon? No! Sheer perfection in every single bite.
The Puddings Come Together Fairly Quickly
They don’t require much in the way of equipment or technique. If you can use a whisk, you can make these in a snap.
The batter itself is made from the basic cake ingredients: sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest, butter, flour, and a pinch of salt. But the egg is separated and the white beaten to help lighten the batter. A little bit like a soufflé, but not quite as fussy.
During baking, the fluffy cake stays on top and the heavier part of the batter sinks to the bottom forming the two distinct layers. As you can imagine, they taste best while warm and gooey, fresh out of the oven with minimal time to cool. You want to spoon out every last drop of the lemon custard and chip away at that crispy edge. (Are you drooling yet?)
A Quick Word about Baking the Puddings
It can be a little tricky to remove them from the oven in that space between still-runny and a tad over-baked. Err on the side of still-runny if you’re unsure. Tapping the little custard cups or ramekins is a good indicator. The puddings should jiggle just a little bit, but feel set on top. If they wobble, they need more time.
Using glass custard cups makes it easier to gauge when the cake layer is set and the custard is still custardy. If you do dip into the pudding and find that the pudding is too runny, pop them back into the oven for another 3-5 minutes. If you place them inside another baking dish, which makes taking them in/out of the oven easier, be sure to add another 5-ish minutes to the baking time.
Conversely, if they’ve baked a little too long, dig in anyway and next time (because there will be a next time), shorten the baking time by 2-3 minutes.
While you don’t need anything more than a dusting of powdered sugar (and even that is not 100% necessary – just pretty), berries are a no-brainer garnish.
Fluffy Lemon Pudding
adapted slightly from Rachel Allen’s Irish Family Food
1 large egg, at room temperature, separated
6 tablespoons (83 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch sea salt
6 tablespoons buttermilk
Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Blackberries, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Have ready two 8-ounce ramekins or custard cups.
2. Place egg white in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Place egg yolk, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a separate bowl. Whisk well until the mixture thickens and lightens in color. Alternatively, beat using a hand-mixer.
4. Add the melted butter and whisk well.
5. Next add the flour and pinch of sea salt; whisk until just combined. Add the buttermilk and whisk just until smooth. Don’t over-mix.
6. With a clean whisk (or beaters), beat the egg white until peaks form. To test, bring the whisk or beaters out of the bowl and hold upright. The egg whites should mostly stand, but the top will flop over.
7. Using a large silicone or rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg whites into the batter with wide, broad strokes. This will lighten the batter. Don’t stir vigorously, or the puddings won’t rise or separate into layers when baking.
8. Divide the batter between the two ramekins. If desired, place the ramekins in another baking dish to make transporting them in and out of the oven easier. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or 25-30 minutes if using the larger baking dish for transporting the ramekins. When the puddings are ready, they will be mostly set, but jiggle in the center when gently tapped. If the top looks at all wet, leave the pudding for another 3-5 minutes. The tops will also be lightly golden around the edges.
9. Allow puddings to cool slightly before serving. If desired, sprinkle the tops with a little confectioners sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
P.S. — Another dessert for two.
Credits: Recipe and photos by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.