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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake


Lemon. Buttermilk. Pudding. Cake. Yes, really. To me every single word of that is so right. It sort of makes me drool. Of course I love lemon. And buttermilk makes me think of perfectly sour sweet pancakes and waffles drizzled in syrup. And if I don't have to decide between pudding and cake, well, perfect, I don't want to.

A texture halfway between mousse and lemon pie filling, served chilled and topped with blackberry sauce, this dessert was bright, fresh tasting and a perfect spot of sunshine in the seemingly eternal darkness that is the month of February. I sat, I lifted each bite slowly. I didn't multitask with my computer or a text book at my side, I had no pressing thoughts on my mind. I sat and let myself be entranced by sweet and tart lemon and blackberry.



To be honest, above all of those things, the thing I loved most about this recipe was the process. This recipe included everything I love about baking- it made me feel like a baker. I zested lemons and squeezed their juice. I separated eggs and whipped the whites into a rich creamy froth. I whisked together dry ingredients then added the wet, I folded it all together in the end so gently to keep the egg whites from falling, and cooked it in individual ramekins in a water bath. Many of these steps would once have baffled me. Only a couple of years ago had I never even baked a cake from scratch. I felt like calling the pastry chef who taught my baking class, and thanking her for giving this to me, this knowledge and confidence, and the realization that sometimes the intimidating steps are the best, most rewarding and soothing. You can't pick up the phone and do something else while you are folding in egg whites, you  must go to a zen baking place (try not to laugh at me for saying that... Also, if you can imagine that phrase said in Mr. Myagi voice, please do. Wax on, Wax off.) and stay engaged in the task at hand. I find it so calming.

And of course, the reward at the end is quite lovely, too.






Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake
from Big Small Plates by Cindy Pawlcyn

Ingredients:
2/3 plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs, separated

Directions:
preheat the oven to 350 degrees

1.In a large bowl whisk together 2/3 cup of the sugar, and all of the flour
2. Add the lemon juice, zest and buttermilk and whisk until smoothly combined.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks and melted butter, then add them to your buttermilk mixture
4. In another bowl, using a standing mixer if you have one, with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until frothy. Add remaining sugar and then continue to mix until soft peaks form.
5. fold the egg whites into the buttermilk mixture gently until mixture is thick and smooth
6. Pour batter into 6 to 8 ramekins, or one eight inch square baking dish
7. Set the dishes in a large lipped pan, filled with water so that the water reaches halfway up the sides of the dishes
8. place in the oven, bake for 25 to 30 minutes, the top should look dry and beginning to crack, but still jiggly underneath.
9. Remove from oven and let cool. chill before serving.
10. to serve, turn individual ramekin serving onto a rimmed dish. Drizzle with berry sauce or fresh berries.

I made a blackberry sauce with frozen berries from the supermarket, the process to do this is simple:

Easy berry sauce
frozen or fresh berries of your choice
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar (alter as needed depending on sweetness of the berries)

let the 3 ingredients simmer in a pan, mash the berries with the back of a spoon or with a potato masher as they simmer. If you wish for a thicker sauce, cook down longer and add a teaspoon of corn starch. You can also choose to strain out the seeds and use only the liquid if you wish.

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