Winter has been downright summery in Sydney this year. If I hadn't been to the Blue Mountains (for a holiday in June) or Melbourne (for work last week), I doubt my scarf would have seen any action at all. As I type this, it's sunny and 25 degrees outside. That's Celcius for any of you northern hemisphere folk, which translates as 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Really, the only sign of the season so far has been the cold I came down with over the weekend, the hordes of people in football jerseys on buses I've been on, and my craving for lemon delicious.
Lemon delicious - or lemon pudding - is a dessert my mother used to make regularly when I was growing up. Comprised of pantry, fridge and fruit bowl staples, it came together quickly, looked after itself in the oven while we were having dinner, and was ready to eat before it was time to do the washing up. A self-saucing pudding, it's baked in a deep-sided dish set within another shallower dish filled with warm water, a technique that produces a golden, sponge-like top, and a pale yellow custardy sauce below.
Sweet and tart in equal measures, with custard and cake in perfect proportion, this is an intensely satisfying winter dessert (even if the winter in question is a little wanting). And there's enough citrus (and therefore Vitamin C) involved to allow you to overlook the significant dairy component and convince yourself that eating it is actively helping you get over your cold. The name says it all. How could you resist?
Recipe adapted from Stephanie Alexander's incomparable The Cook's Companion
The amount of sauce depends both on the level of the water in the dish the pudding bowl sits in and the length of time it bakes for. If your oven runs hot, crank down the temperature a little so the top doesn't brown too quickly or, if it does, some tinfoil over the top should allow it to keep cooking safely and reward you with the perfect ratio of pudding and sauce.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Preheat oven to 180 deg C and butter a 1 litre ovenproof dish.
Zest 1 lemon and juice both. In a food processor, cream butter with zest and sugar, then add egg yolks. Add flour and milk alternately to make a smooth batter. Scrape mixture from sides of processor bowl and blend in lemon juice. Transfer to a large bowl.
Whisk egg whites til creamy and firm and fold gently into batter. Pour the combined mixture into prepared baking dish. Stand this dish within another larger dish and pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides of dish.
Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool a little before serving with cream or ice-cream.