Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Lily's Lemon Sponge Pudding with Apricot Sauce
Lily - an old and absent friend - loved this version of sponge pudding. She had a keen palate (unaffected by stout and port), a wonderfully lilting voice (Scottish) that was at it's best when she was belting We Shall Not Be Moved using her words (see my playlist) rather than those of the movements. Lily had a keen mind - Oxford tends to do that - a sharp tongue and the vocabulary of a storm trooper. She took no prisoners, believe me! Lily made me smile - a lot! She was a self-professed lemon lover and this dessert is a lemon lover's dream. A simple batter produces a layer of sponge and a layer of pudding that delights and refreshes the palate. It's origins lie in Britain and colonial America, and it first appeared in cookbooks in the late 19th century. This version is intensely flavored. It's great peasant food; so, if you're partial to lemon desserts, ready your fork, pucker up and take a bite. It's nearly perfect.
Lemon Sponge Pudding with Apricot Sauce
1-1/4 cups light cream or half-and-half (whole milk may be substituted)
2 to 3 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 small can(8.5-oz.)canned apricots in syrup, drained
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1) Adjust a rack to middle-third of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray eight 6-oz. ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. Place ramekins in a roasting pan. Set aside.
2) Combine cream and lemon zest in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain milk into a small bowl. Set aside.
3) Combine butter and 6 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl; cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until incorporated. Stir in flour, salt, lemon juice and lemon-flavored milk. Set aside.
4) In another large bowl, beat egg whites with clean beaters until soft peaks form. Add remaining 3/4 cup, 1 tablespoon at a time, until whites are firm and glossy. Using a whisk, gently fold meringue into batter just until combined.
5) Spoon batter into prepared ramekins; place roasting pan containing ramekins on oven rack. Pour boiling water into roaster until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes, or until small cracks form on top on the cakes. Transfer ramekins to a rack and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.
6) Meanwhile, combine apricots, apricot preserves, water, lemon juice and salt in bowl of a food processor. Puree until sauce is really smooth. Strain through a sieve if desired. Refrigerate.
7) When ready to serve, run a thin knife around the edges of the ramekins; unmold onto dessert plates. Spoon apricot sauce around the cakes. Alternatively, serve puddings in molds and drizzle with apricot sauce. Garnish with mint sprigs if desired. Yield: 8 servings.
***Cook's Note: Ramekins must be thoroughly chilled prior to unmolding.