Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lemon Cake Custard from 1957

Whenever we go out to restaurants, I like to test the kitchen by ordering soup and dessert. Good soup is rare; good desserts even rarer. Many places outsource their desserts and you are offered the generic Tiramisu (I hate it), creme brulee (so last decade), or Brownie Sundaes (yawn). Washington DC used to be a vast wasteland when we first moved here in 1990. Things have improved quite a bit since then; you can get good desserts at lots of places now.
If they have an old fashioned dessert I always order one, just to see if the chef knows what she is doing. I have made Lemon Pudding Cake, Lemon Cake custard and its chocolate cousin many times. I had a particularly nice version at Zola in downtown DC. The chef there had added raspberries, which made it very special. I was sorry that I had to give Mr. Hunting Creek a bite; he takes big bites.
This version is from the Sunbeam Mixmaster Recipe Book from 1957. I'd show you a picture but it was all eaten before I could take one.

Lemon Cake Custard
Cake at the top, Lemony custard on the bottom

Preheat oven to 350 (Sunbeam did not mention this, so it was my lucky guess)

3 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar

Take the egg whites and beat them with the salt until foamy. slowly add the 1/2 cup sugar, unril peaks form - about 1-2 minutes or so. Set aside.

2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sugar (yes that's right, another 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup lemon juice

In a different bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar, egg yolks, flour, milk, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Fold in egg whites. Pour into 6-8 ramekins, custard cups or one large baking dish ( I used an 8x8 casserole, lightly sprayed with baking spray. They didn't mention pan size either, so I guessed there too. It worked though.)If I had used custard cups, I would have placed them in a larger baking dish and put hot water around them to prevent over cooking. That's called a bain marie in cooking terms; you use it to prevent your egg desserts from overcooking.
Bake 45-50 minutes. The top will be lightly browned and cakey, the bottom will be custardy.

In our house we ate this with vanilla ice cream.
I think it would also be good with blueberries or raspberries baked in it, or with fresh strawberries and whipped cream on top. They say it is wonderful warm and chilled. I can only vouch for warm so far.

Happy Baking!


Toby Wollin said...

We call the chocolate cousin of this 'Denver Chocolate Pudding" (at college, it was referred to as 'zit pudding' but that obviously dates me). My kids would eat that warm, cold or at any temperature in between. The lemon version is much more grown up than the chocolate one, but definitely good - I serve it with seasonal berries on the side. Yummy.

Nancy (nanflan) said...

My test at Italian restaurants is gnocchi. If you can get that right, the other dishes will be fine.

-E said...

Yeah, what is with the husbands and those bites?!

I, too, am in pursuit of a great soup.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

That sounds really good. Thanks for the recipe!

cidell said...

So, you can delete my comment if it is way too off topic. But, several years ago I bought the modern version of that Sunbeam mixer because I was mad all my friends were getting married and getting Kitchen Aids. I love the retro styling and lower price point. I called it my 'single girl mixer'.

lsaspacey said...

Thank you. My mother used to make this and I have no idea where that cookbook went. I was just thinking of this dessert a few days ago too!