To follow the potage and dumplings, dessert was Lemon Pudding. This is an easy, very delicate and delicious dessert. The subtle flavor and light texture make it especially good after a substantial meal. The pudding seperates during cooking to form a creamy sauce topped with a light sponge.
I used a recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (13th edition, 1996). Fannie Farmer is the American equivalent to Mrs. Beeton. Fannie published her most well-known work, The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, in 1896 which contained 1,849 recipes, from milk toast to Zigaras à la Russe. Farmer also included essays on housekeeping, cleaning, canning and drying fruits and vegetables, and nutritional information. The book was so popular in America, so thorough, and so comprehensive that housewives would refer to later editions simply as the “Fannie Farmer cookbook,” and it is still available in print over 100 years later.
I like the Fannie Farmer cookbook for it’s simple, all-American recipes and I love the preface to the 13th edition written by editor Marion Cunnimgham. She writes about a hankering for home cooking and for a personal connection to our food, evidenced by the enthusiastic response to farmers’ markets that had sprung up all over the US in the 1990’s. She writes also about food as more than fodder, ‘it is an act of giving and receiving because the experience at table is communal sharing; talk begins to flow, feelings are expressed, and a sense of well-being takes over’. Marion Cunningham acknowledges that a generation (or two) of Americans have missed out on the experience of cooking at home and hopes to lure people back into the kitchen and show them how easy and pleasurable and contagious it is to cook a simple meal. And that part of the pleasure is in pleasing others.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 7/8 cup sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons flour
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, I used 2 lemons
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Heavy (double) cream
Preheat oven to 350° fahrenheit/180° celsius. Beat the butter until soft, then gradually add the sugar, beating until it is all incorporated. Beat in the egg yolks one by one. Add the milk, flour, lemon juice and zest and beat to mix well.
A little digression about zest – spirited enjoyment and enthusiasm. That’s such a great word which also refers to the coloured outer rind of citrus fruits. I find that the addition of zest to food makes it more spirited and piquant.
Citrus rind on the other hand is the whole peel including the zest and the white membrane (pith). The zest is removed with a zester, a microplane or a very fine grater.
I find it much easier to remove the zest before juicing the fruit. I use a zester which forms long thread-like strips. The next time I make this pudding though, I’ll chop the zest, because the long strips made some of the mouthfuls a little bit too lively.
Don’t worry that the mixture has a curdled look. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold into the batter. Turn into a 1 ½ quart baking dish and set it in a bain marie, a pan of hot water that comes halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Check halfway through and cover with a piece of foil if it is browning too quickly. Let cool slightly and serve with a pitcher of heavy cream. This pudding is also good cold. It goes down well with a cup of Earl Grey tea.