Thursday, 22 October 2009

Grandma Ruby's Lemon Sponge Pudding

Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality is hosting a recipe party today, and I thought I would post one of my favourite recipes ever. I'm also linking it to Foodie Friday on the Designs by Gollum blog for Friday. It’s my oldest family recipe – at least I think it is – at any rate it is the only one I can date so accurately. I made this recipe loads when I was a little girl, using a recipe card written in my Grandma’s hand. When I got married, my Mom gave the recipe to me written out in her own handwriting. Later, she gave me the card Grandma had written. Then, after my Mom died and I inherited her recipe collection, I found a small, yellowing newspaper clipping from the 1920’s for a recipe very similar to Grandma’s! She had clearly made a few changes to make the recipe her own, but it must have been her inspiration. As you can see from the stains on the cards in the photograph, all the recipes have been well used!

Now I’ve seen lots of variations on this theme over the years for a pudding cake that creates its own sauce “magically” as it bakes, leaving you with a lovely light sponge on the top and a sauce underneath. This is the best I have ever tasted though as the cake is angelically light, and the sauce has a marvellously sweet yet refreshingly tart taste. Following the family tradition, I have “tweaked” Grandma’s recipe a little to bring it into the 21st Century and also used more modern measurements (my Grandma’s recipe was measured out in “dessert spoons”). However the essence of the recipe is still my Grandma’s, inspired by something she clipped out of a newspaper by a young bride back in Canada in1925, before my own Mom was even born. Every time I make it I think of my Grandma, my Mom and I, making the same recipe all down the generations. I’ve taught my son to make it too. I love a recipe with a history!

Like many good recipes, this one is a bit labour intensive, but the spectacular finish is well worth the effort. To cook it, you need to put the baking dish you are cooking the pudding cake in into another larger empty baking dish. You then pour boiling water into the larger pan, so that it comes half way up the side of the outside of the pan the pudding is in. This slightly fiddly step makes all the difference to the results as it helps the “magic” to happen. This recipe will serve 4 people.

¼ cup butter
2/3 (two thirds) cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
1/3 cup all purpose (plain) flour
1 cup milk
½ cup lemon juice
Pinch salt

Butter a medium size baking dish or casserole. You can use just about any shape or depth dish, as long as it will fit inside another larger baking dish. Preheat oven to 325 F or 150 C.

Cream butter with all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl. Beat the egg yolks into this mixture. Beat in the lemon rind and the flour until just mixed. Add the milk and lemon juice. Stir well until you have a smooth mixture.

Put the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until light. Now gradually beat in the remaining two tablespoons of sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

Fold the egg white mixture very gently into the lemon mixture with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be quite loose and uneven. Take care not to over-mix. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. Now place the dish with the pudding in it into the larger dish. Boil the kettle and very carefully pour boiling water into the larger outside dish until it is just half way up the sides of the dish with the pudding in. (Take great care not to get any water in the pudding.)

Very carefully, place both baking dishes (the one inside of the other) in the preheated oven. Bake for about 45 minutes until gently firm and brown on top.

Remove from the oven carefully (any remaining water will be boiling hot) and take the baking dish or casserole with the pudding in it out of the outer baking dish. Pat the outside of the baking dish with the pudding in it dry as best as possible and take the pudding to the table. Serve immediately, making sure everyone gets some of the lovely lemon sauce that is hiding under the spongy pudding.