Wednesday afternoon was a first for me. As I sat at my desk and typed away on work-related odds and ends, I clicked on my Twitter feed just as @food52 tweeted about this week’s wildcard winner on their site. Normally I don’t have any trouble clicking back and forth between Twitter updates and the task at hand, but on that day I was lured by lemons and the promise of “barely sweet pudding cake,” enough to follow their link and read the recipe. Now maybe it’s because I had a lovely large lemon left (alliteration, oi!) from the olive oil cake I baked the day before. Or maybe it’s because I recently scored an adorable pair of white Le Creuset ramekins from Marshalls for a mere $6.99 and was looking for any excuse to give them a try. Either way, I spent a 20-minute break of my Wednesday afternoon surrounded by lemons, sugar and eggs in an impromptu baking session that was exciting, impulsive and oh so satisfying. As it turns out, lemons and spontaneity go together swimmingly.
This dessert is one of those best-of-both-worlds kinds of things in more ways than one. It’s sweet but not too sweet. It looks terribly complicated but is amazingly easy to prepare. It’s simple enough to be made on a weekday afternoon yet feels fancy enough to serve at a dinner table filled with guests. It’s cake, and it’s custard — two desserts in one.
Lemon Sponge Cups
From EMunn on food52.com
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 4 tablespoons flour
• 1 lemon, grated zest and juice
• 1 ½ cups milk
• 3 eggs, separated
• pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter. Add sugar, flour, salt, lemon juice and zest. In another bowl, beat eggs yolk, then stir in milk. Slowly add second mixture to first mixture. Beat eggs whites until they hold stiff peaks. Gently fold eggs whites into mixture.
Pour mixture into ramekins or individual soufflé dishes, and place in a pan of hot water (I find it a little easier to put the pan holding the ramekins in the oven first and then use the tea kettle to pour about half an inch of water around ramekins — a helpful tip from Ms. Martha Stewart). Bake until tops puff up and turn a pretty golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool a bit. Turn out onto plate, or serve still in ramekin or dish. You can top the sponge cups with whipped cream before serving if you prefer, though they’re the perfect sweet-and-sour combination all on their own.
I actually halved the above recipe, which made just enough batter to fill two small ramekins (yes, I halved an egg yolk; somewhat silly, I know). I’m not sure what it is about eating individually prepared desserts that feels so special and romantic, but I suppose it’s just one of life’s many ironies that we should enjoy rather than try to explain. Jared and I noshed on our little cups of lemony goodness with coffee and a movie last night, which seemed to be a fittingly unplanned way to top off my spur-of-the moment baking. I love a good plan, but sometimes this is better.
When was the last time you whipped up something completely spur of the moment? Do certain ingredients or types of recipes prompt you to action more quickly than others? Is anyone else wooed by lemons, no matter the time of year? Can’t wait to hear about it!