Since childhood I've been fascinated by pudding cakes that magically form two layers from just one batter. This one was inspired by America's Test Kitchen and several others, and I made it 4 servings rather than my usual 8 in order to fit in my toaster oven for cool baking on a hot day.
What is more refreshing than lemon on a hot summer day? Especially Meyer lemon (but you can use whatever lemons you happen to have). And I've made this as no-fuss as possible because who wants to be slaving over a hot stove--and then afterward, over a hot sink!--in weather like this? If you don't have a toaster oven and an immersion blender, just use a regular oven and a mixer.
I can't decide which is my favorite part--the airy layer of cake on top or the luscious layer of lemon pudding on the bottom. Are you a lemon fan?
(Makes 4 servings)
2/3 cup milk (I always use organic 2%)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 In small saucepan heat milk and cream to a simmer. Stir in lemon zest; cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain into a small bowl or 1-cup glass measure.
2 Preheat toaster oven or oven to 325F/165C/Gas3. Place a dishcloth in the bottom of an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Set four 7-ounce ramekins in the dish. Add cold tap water to the dish to reach about 1/3 up the sides of the ramekins.
3 In small bowl whisk together 1/3 cup sugar, flour, salt and baking powder. Add yolks, vanilla extract and lemon juice. whisk just until smooth, then whisk in milk and cream.
4 With immersion blender's whisk attachment in place, whisk the two egg whites for about a minute on low speed until they're getting foamy, then about a minute on high speed to soft peaks. Gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons sugar. Do not overbeat egg whites; if beaten to stiff peaks they will not fold in well.
5 Whisk about a fourth of the whites into the batter to lighten it, then lightly fold in the remaining whites. Pour into ramekins, nearly to the top. Bake for about 30 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of one of the puddings should register 172F/78C.
6 Cool in water bath for 10 minutes, then remove ramekins to wire rack to cool completely. It could be served slightly warm or cold, but I like it best at room temperature. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.