Until I met chemistry. Chemistry killed me. I had to work my ass off every single night. I had to read the textbook and take notes on the reading every night. I did all the study questions at the end of each chapter--just so I understood what the hell was going on. We weren't turning in these study questions--but if I didn't do them, I was totally lost in the class. Working my ass off got me a solid B. I enjoyed the challenge, and I was proud of myself for working hard and getting a nice passing grade in response. This kind of made me like chemistry.
Well, it made me like food chemistry. I LOVE food chemistry.
Back when I was addicted to The Food Network and couldn't leave the house for fear of missing a good recipe, Paula Deen made some sort of crazy pudding cake thing. It was mixed in one bowl, and somehow during the bake the batter sorted itself out and made a cake layer on top and a nice looking pudding on the bottom.
Magic! How did they do it?!
June 19, 2008
Name of Cake: Lemon Pudding Cake
Occasion: Student Doula Meeting
Constituents: Magic! (with macerated strawberries on the side)
I don't know if it is due to the busy nature of modern day lifestyles, or a Portland thing, or just a thing that everyone in my social and business circles do, but I go to a lot of freaking potlucks. Which is perfect for me and this blog (and hence, you) as I have lots of opportunities to inflict baked goods on a lot of people.
So Thursday night, we had our twice-monthly meeting for the student doulas in our group. The book they were reading was Birthing From Within, and since I'm a mentor I was asked to help facilitate the meeting and lead them through an exercise. (An exercise which made everyone cry. Good thing I brought cake.)
I was flipping through my baking books the day before and found in the Fannie Farmer Baking Book a recipe for Lemon Pudding Cake, which was a dead ringer for Paula Deen's magic cake (but probably with less butter). I got pretty excited about it and decided that was what I was going to bake.
This cake is practically foolproof and really quick to put together. It is mixed up in one bowl--with the exception of the egg whites, which you beat up separately and fold into the rest--and makes a very wet batter. It is mostly liquid, actually. There isn't much flour and no leavening besides the egg whites.
I am assuming that during the bake, the egg whites and flour must bind with just enough of the sugar and liquid to make a nice little sponge cake on top, and that all the extra liquid falls to the bottom with the egg yolks and makes a nice lemony pudding. How's that for chemistry? Pretty scientific, huh?
To help with the magic, you bake the cake for 45 minutes in a bain marie; presumably to help the pudding set. There were no directions for cooling the cake, simply that you could serve it warm or chilled with a little heavy cream, so I left it out to cool for about an hour, then set it in the refrigerator to chill.
The little sponge cake on top was very light, moist, and springy, however it didn't have much flavor on its own. I would have loved to have gotten some of the lemon zest or even a little bit of vanilla into the cake, but I'm not sure how you would get it to stay in the cake such as this.
The pudding part was a little watery at first, when it was chilled, but as the pudding warmed up it thickened. It was refreshingly, tartly, lemony (and limey; I ran out of lemons). I would have liked the pudding to be a little thicker yet, but perhaps that could be due to the 2% milk I used; I suspect whole milk would yield better results.
You serve the pudding cake right out of the pan you bake it in, with a large spoon to scoop out cake and pudding. I like that; it keeps things pretty low-key. I had a bunch of macerated sliced strawberries on the side, in case the cake was bland and needed flavor, but the pudding did the trick. However, strawberries and lemon? Yum. It was a good idea anyway.
The doulas liked my little magical cake experiment, and there was just enough for me to take home for a midnight snack. Excellent!
Here's Paula Deen's recipe: she calls it Lemon Curd Pudding. Hers is a little more rich, with half-and-half and 4 eggs, but no butter! I guess with all the butterfat in the half-and-half you don't need it.