Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lemon heaven

The days are lengthening and there is a hint in the air of a turn in the season. Soon it will be time to say goodbye to the stews, soups and puddings that have fortified us through the long winter days. But there are still cool days ahead, so plenty of time to whip up a few more winter favourites before the stockpot and casserole dish are packed away.

Much as I love chocolate pudding, I think lemon delicious is one of my favourite desserts. An old-fashioned classic, this dessert is aptly named: a deliciously light, cakey sponge top hides a creamy, custardy lemon sauce underneath. This dish satisfies you without leaving you feeling too full or that you've over-indulged, which can happen with some rich chocolate puddings.

I must have at least half-a-dozen recipes for lemon delicious, all variations on the same theme, but the one I keep returning to is from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion. Stephanie writes that lemon delicious belongs to the era when a roast was followed by a hot pudding, as making two dishes rather than one was a sensible way of utilising the oven's heat.

Lemon delicious is extremely easy to make but does use a few separate dishes in the preparation. However, this is a small price to pay for such a delicious dessert.


2 lemons
60g butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
3 Tb self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and butter a 1-litre ovenproof dish. Zest one of the lemons and juice both. Blend the butter with zest and sugar in a food processor, then add egg yolks. Add flour and milk alternately to make a smooth batter. Scrape mixture from the sides of the processor bowl and blend in lemon juice. Transfer to a clean basin. Whisk egg whites until creamy and firm and fold gently into the batter. Pour batter into prepared dish. Stand in a baking dish and pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides of the basin. Bake for one hour (keep an eye on it to make sure the top doesn't brown too much). Allow to cool a little before serving and serve with cream.

Recipe from The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander

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