I bought a few Meyer lemons the other day with no purpose in mind except to try them (I know, I’m late to the party. But I’ve been swimming in chocolate ganache lately). So I started searching for a lemon recipe that spoke to me. I went through all of my cookbooks to no avail and then my fairy godmother handed me a recipe (Ok. She isn’t my fairy godmother. But Martha Stewart has been called the fairy godmother of the Meyer lemon, like in this article from NPR. Can you imagine having Martha Stewart as your fairy godmother?… lucky lemon).
This lemon custard cake was simple to make and dreamy to eat. It is light and airy and much too easy to eat (Much too easy to eat). It was a ray of sunshine in the middle of my weary day. It is more custard than cake. The top is almost like souffle. But the bottom is where you find the custard… and what dreams are made of. Lovely lemon-flavored dreams. I’ve got to say, Martha really knows her Meyer lemon (like a good fairy godmother should), and for that I thank her and her website minions for bringing us this recipe for lemon custard cake. I’ve also included the full recipe down below…
By the way, I used a tip from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours – I put the lemon zest directly into the sugar and rubbed it around to release the oils from the zest. It was kind of fun, like playing in the sand (lovely lemony sand that doesn’t end up in your bathing suit).
Exactly 1 minute before I took this photo, I was turning the timer off thinking “What am I supposed to do with a pan full of hot water? How do I get it out of the oven without spillage or worse? Martha didn’t say what to do. Why didn’t she say what to do?!” But you know what you do? You take a deep breath, open the oven door, slide the oven rack out and… calmly lift it to the stovetop. I’m embarrassed that I was so worried, but I had visions of sloshing boiling hot water all over myself and the kitchen. I wouldn’t recommend trying to transport the pan full of hot water across the kitchen (see sloshing), but lifting it out to the stovetop… easy peasy.
Lemon Custard Cakes
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Lemon Custard Cakes
Unsalted butter (room temperature), for buttering the ramekins
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-3 teaspoons grated lemon zest (1 lemon)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Butter six 6-ounce custard cups (ramekins). Line a baking dish with a towel and place ramekins in the pan.
2. In a small bowl, massage your lemon zest into the sugar to release the lemon oils.
3. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until light. Whisk in flour. Gradually add lemon juice, then milk.
4. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form (I beat the egg whites until peaks formed when I lifted the beater but the whites were still glossy and the peaks sort of fell a little… soft peaks…)
5. Add the egg whites to the lemon batter and fold in carefully with a whisk (the batter will be liquidy).
6. Divide the batter into the ramekins (a ladle makes this really easy). Place the baking dish in the oven and fill with boiling water to halfway up the sides of the cups.
7. Bake until the cakes are puffed and lightly brown on top (Martha says the pudding is still visible in the bottom, but if your custard cups are white you’re not gonna see it. Also, with all of that water and stuff going on in the pan, I say if the tops are light brown its time to pull them. That’s what I did anyway). 20 to 25 minutes.
8. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar.
Serves 6 (or 1 if you’re anything like me…)