Lemon Souffle Pudding Cakes

How do you feel about lemon desserts?

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I don’t think I’ve ever met one that I didn’t like. Actually, my fondness for lemon is not just about desserts. I love the freshness of lemon in an ice cold beverage and I love that squeeze of lemon on top of seafood or other savory dishes. Then, of course, I love lemon curd on top of everything. Lemon squares? Irresistible! I love lemon in this pie and in these cakes and I love these Lemon Souffle Pudding Cakes.

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This dessert is one of the easiest and yet incredibly impressive desserts you can make. That’s a good combo. Most really impressive desserts take lots of skill and experience, or at the very least, lots of patience. I continue to build skill and experience. The patience thing? Well, I’ve made my fair share of treats that have taken 18 hours or more to make. Projects like giant cakes where I’m mixing up batch after batch of batter and batch after batch of frosting and filling, and waiting for cakes to cool so they can be torted and filled and stacked and stabilized and crumb coated, then decorated.

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I go into a zone during those projects. I have to work up to them… you know, prepare emotionally. I’ve done enough of them now to stop kidding myself that they are going to take any less time or any less effort. I know I need to clear at least two solid days to make sure I have time to complete them without interruption. My husband and kids know they need to fend for themselves and leave me to finish whatever step I’m working on before I can give them my full attention. Time passes without notice. Those are labors of love projects, in the truest sense of the word. I absolutely feel like I put my heart and soul into each one.

I know. I’m totally selling you on how “wonderful” it is to go down the rabbit hole on a big project. But, there’s no big commitment with this Lemon Souffle Pudding Cake. Spring is here and this is one easy breezy recipe. You can decide to whip it up on the fly as long as you have a few key ingredients like buttermilk, fresh lemons and superfine sugar. Everything else like eggs, flour and salt are generally on hand for most people.

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The rest is easy. You’ll mix up your wet ingredients, sift in your dry and combine thoroughly. You’ll be left with a very loose liquidy mixture. Then you’ll add your egg whites that have been whipped to stiff peaks. Those get folded in in stages. I add about 1/4 of them in first to lighten up the batter. Once the batter has been lightened up, you’ll add the rest of the egg whites in stages, folding the batter up and over the egg whites until they’ve been incorporated. Ideally, there should be no visible whites left. I had a few bits here and there. No worries.

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Then you’ll divide the batter into your prepared ramekins. Mine are about 6 ounces, but you could use just about any size. I’ve divided this same amount of batter into 4 ramekins and 8 ramekins which simply produces different heights. It’s pretty flexible.

The souffles need to bake in a hot water bath. I just put them into a baking pan, then carefully pour hot water in until it comes halfway up the sides. You don’t want the water to splash into your batter, so pour slowly. Don’t skip this step. The cakes need the water to protect them from the high heat of the oven. (Some of the water will evaporate while baking. When you take them out of the oven, it will no longer be half way up the sides, as you can see in the photo below.)

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That’s it. Glide over to the oven, being careful not to spill any water and bake them until they are puffy, spring back to a light touch and are nicely golden. Mine puffed up beyond the edge of my ramekins. So pretty! But don’t get attached to the height. The puff will subside when you remove them from the oven. They shouldn’t sink, necessarily, they’ll just settle down a bit. But then, comes the fun part…the unveiling!

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Place a small serving dish on top of the ramekin, flip it over and lift the ramekin up and off the souffle. Voila! What comes out is this super light and airy cake, sort of like a sponge cake, but moister. It is crowned with a lovely cap of lemon “pudding” that’s reminiscent of lemon curd. Beautiful! I’ve made this recipe countless times and I’ve never (knock wood) had a mishap when turning these beauties out. They always release completely and perfectly. (Of course, you need to make sure you’ve buttered and sugared the ramekins in order for this to occur.)

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Then it’s your decision how you want to “accessorize” your lemon lovelies. I usually add some kind of fresh berry or a mixture of berries. This time, I went with blueberries and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. You could add whipped cream or even a small scoop of ice cream. It doesn’t need anything, but I do love the fresh berries with it.

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Don’t let the egg whites and folding or the hot water bath intimidate you. Once you make it, you’ll be surprised how easy it is and how quickly it all comes together. Those 18 hour projects take a lot of time and patience and definitely some perseverance. But these Lemon Souffle Pudding Cakes? They’re still a labor of love. It’s just that there’s hardly any labor involved.

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Just a whole lotta love!

 

Lemon Souffle Pudding Cakes

Yield: 4 individual pudding cakes

Lemon Souffle Pudding Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, for buttering ramekins
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup reduced fat buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh berries and confectioner's sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and lightly sugar four ramekins.
  2. Beat egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice, zest, with a mixer until well combined.
  3. Reduce the speed to low and sift in flour, sugar and salt.
  4. Continue to mix until combined. The mixture will be a fairly thin liquid.
  5. Beat egg whites in a clean bowl, until you get stiff peaks.
  6. Take about 1/4 portion of the egg whites and fold them into the egg mixture to begin to lighten it up. (You could actually whisk in this very first portion to lighten the batter, then switch to a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining egg whites.) Continue adding egg whites 1/4 portion at a time folding gently with a rubber spatula so as not to deflate them. You want to incorporate them until you end up with a light and fluffy mixture. Remember to fold, not stir.
  7. Divide evenly among the ramekins and set in a baking pan. I used a 9" square pan.
  8. Carefully pour hot water into the pan, without it splashing into the batter in the ramekins, until the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  9. Carefully place the pan into the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched and the cakes are nicely golden.
  10. Allow to cool slightly, carefully remove from pan, and set on a dish towel to dry the ramekin (and to prevent any water dripping), cover with individual serving plate, then carefully invert to release cake.
  11. Top with fresh berries and a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar.

Notes

*My ramekins are 6 ounce, so my cakes baked up tall. Sometimes, I take the same recipe but pour it into 8 ramekins instead of 4 and make shorter cakes/smaller servings. I think 8 ounce ramekins might work best, but I'm just letting you know that it's quite flexible and can work in different sizes. Commenters in the original recipe mention that they've also baked it up well as one big cake, but I haven't personally tried it.

*I buy superfine sugar by the box, but you can make it at home in your food processor. Just add the desired amount (plus a couple of tablespoons) to a food processor and process until sugar feels like fine sand. The extra couple of tablespoons will allow for the reduction in volume once you process it. When you're done, you want to end up with the full 2/3 cup measurement of superfine sugar.

*I've made this a zillion times, but this last time, I thought I might like it less sweet. (Perhaps my lemons weren't as tart as usual.) I haven't tested it out yet, but next time, I'm going to try reducing the sugar to 1/2 cup and may skip the addition of confectioner's sugar on top which just adds more sweetness, (though it is a pretty addition!)

*There should be no traces of fat in the clean bowl you use to whip your egg whites. You can always wipe it out with some vinegar to eliminate any traces of fat before you begin.

*Don't over beat your egg whites. You don't want them to become dry, just beat them until they reach stiff peaks.

*When adding the hot water to the pan, do it in a place that's close to your oven so that you don't have to carry the pan of hot water across the room, while trying not to spill it.

*If you have leftovers, they should be refrigerated. I usually flip the ramekin/s over on whatever plate I plan to serve them on and leave the ramekin in place as a cover. Then they go right into the refrigerator. When it's time to serve them again, I just lift the ramekin cover and I'm good to go. This way, I don't have to worry about covering the exposed pudding top and ruining it. Or, you could just cover the right side up ramekin with plastic wrap or foil, and eat it with a spoon later, scooping down to the bottom to get to the pudding layer.

Recipe from Tyler Florence