About once a fortnight the beloved, the small person and I get together with our lovely-midwife-friends (the LMFs) and their children for lazy Friday. Lazy, because instead of cooking excellent, nourishing food for our families and engaging them in meaningful conversation around the dinner table, we park all the kids in front of a dvd, order up a large amount of Thai takeaway and curl up on the couch to eat and gossip. This was as good an excuse as any to bargain for a brief reprieve from the baking embargo. And what better way to chase away gingery, peanutty, chilli-laced curries, garlicky roti and sticky steamed rice, than with tangy lemon pudding and silky vanilla ice-cream?
Back Yard Pudding
If you like baking even just a little, there is a good chance that you will always have the ingredients for this pudding on hand. In this house, if you can beg an egg from a hen and find a lemon on a tree in the back yard this pudding can definitely be made – hence its name. We have a handful of citrus trees, but by far the most productive is the Meyer lemon. Old and gnarled, heavy with smooth-skinned, golden and juicy lemons for most of the year, protected from the threat of bugs and disease by the hens, this tree makes it a pretty sure bet that we never have to go without dessert.
65 grams of butter, plus a bit extra to butter up your baking dish
185 grams of caster sugar
the zest and juice of 2 lemons (chop your zest up finely if you don’t have one of the superfine zesters)
3 eggs, separated
30 grams of self-raising flour
160 mls of milk
ice-cream or cream or creme fraiche to serve
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (our oven is a mini blast furnace and I had to turn it down to 150 for the second half of the cooking time, so just keep your eye on it)
Butter up a baking dish: approximately 1 litre capacity. It can be round, oval, a bit smaller, a bit bigger. If it’s smaller and deeper you may just have to cook it a little longer.
In a medium bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the zest, then add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add half the sifted flour and half the milk and fold in gently. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk.
Gently stir in the lemon juice. The mixture may look separated/split at this stage – this is normal.
In a clean bowl, whisk your egg whites into firm peaks.
Fold the egg whites into the pudding mixture, one third at a time. Don’t overmix at this point. It’s okay if the mixture looks a little uneven.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Place the baking dish into a roasting pan.
Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water level is 1/3 of the baking dish.
Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on your oven. This may seem like a wide range, but the easiest thing is to check the pudding after 20 minutes and adjust your oven temperature if necessary. When it’s done it will be slightly springy to touch and look golden. As it cools, it will sink a little bit. When you serve it, you will find it is pudding-y on top and gooey underneath.
This is a seriously good pudding. It’s good hot or cold. It’s good at any time of day. It’s good dolloped into a bowl with ice-cream and it’s equally good spooned straight from dish to mouth while you hover in the doorway of the open fridge. On a cold winter’s night, with the LMFs and hot tea and happy children, it’s perfect.