Friday, October 2, 2009

Lemon Cakes

As all the beautiful fruit of summer fades from view, we can always turn to the bright spark of lemons. We are now definitely working our way into the fall season and the bounty of lemons in our fruit basket is the best consolation. Lemon desserts are among the most popular and satisfying on any menu any time of the year.

These little lemon cakes are a nice way to complete any meal. They are rather light and absolutely full of lemon flavor. If you love Lemon Meringue Pie, this is the next best thing. As these cakes bake, they finish with a very airy souffle cake-like crust on the bottom and a soft and tart lemon curd layer on the top. Add a dollop of whipped cream and some berries and you are set. Bright, light and sure to please the lemon lover in you.

Bench notes:
- I tried baking these in small deep ramekins and shallower larger ones. I think the shallower ones work best because the cakes are rather delicate and will tend to collapse if they have too much height. I used 4 1/2" diameter ramekins here.
- I’ve also successfully halved this recipe for 4 servings.
- This would be delicious with any sort of berry as an accompaniment.

Little Lemon Cakes with Soft Cream
adapted from Wine Country Cooking by Joanne Weir
Serves 8

melted butter as needed, for brushing ramekins
granulated sugar as needed, for dusting ramekins

5 T butter @ room temperature
6 T + 3/4 C sugar, divided
5 eggs @ room temperature, separated
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 T flour
1 1/4 C whole milk @ room temperature
2/3 C fresh lemon juice @ room temperature

1 C heavy cream, for garnish
1 T confectioner’s sugar
1/4 t vanilla extract
berries, for garnish

Brush eight 5-oz ramekins with butter. Dust the inside of each of the ramekins with granulated sugar and tap out the excess. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Cream the butter and 6 tablespoons of sugar until it is light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest and flour until blended. Add the milk and lemon juice and beat thoroughly.

Whip the egg whites until soft opaque peaks form. Slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup sugar and whip until the meringue forms stiff glossy peaks. Gently fold the meringue into the lemon mixture.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared ramekins and gently smooth the surface of each. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan in the oven. Pour boiling water to within 1” of the sides of the ramekins. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the water bath and cool completely.

Whip the cream to soft peaks with 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and the vanilla.

To serve, unmold the individual cakes onto dessert plates. Garnish with cream and berries. Serve immediately.


vanillasugarblog said...

I love how simple this is, yet so elegant.

Barbara said...

Oh! I'm going to have to make this. Absolutely beautiful and my mouth started to water the minute I saw the photo- is it as tart as lemon curd? Or is it more mild like a lemon cake/pudding combo?

pastry studio said...

Thank you for your comments!

Barbara, the photos do tend to make my mouth pucker! It's really like a soft souffle-ish cake with a layer of tangy lemony lemon curd on top. Very soft and delicate, but not quite like the cake/pudding cake combo, which I think of as being more liquid and fluid. The ratio of ingredients is a bit different - a wee bit more flour and eggs - so the curd sets up.

Sasha said...

Looks beautiful. I bet it's so refreshing : )

bedroom dresser said...

The strawberries are so beautiful! Perfect! I think the taste of the strawberries and the cake and the cream compliment each other! This is going to be a hit!

Heather said...

Looks perfect!

PAM said...

For restaurant service do you cool them down in the walk in first and then unmold them onto the plates or do they unmold nicely at room temperature. This would be a nice "fast" dessert for my menu. Thanks for sharing!!

pastry studio said...

Hello Sugar Chef! Yes, they're super fast, especially working from prep mise en place. Once they cool down, they pop right out. Just be sure to butter and sugar your ramekins well. I also didn't have any problem with them after they'd been refrigerated, so either way would probably work. Hope you find them as delicious as I did!

PAM said...

Thanks for your quick response. I just started working at a new restaurant, I'm all by myself and the first menu I designed is too labor intensive for one person to create night after night. I had been a country club pastry chef for the last 10 years with two assistants. I'm looking for less involved desserts and this one looks perfect. I will try it and let you know how it turns out. I may put it on my November menu.

pastry studio said...

Yikes, I know how hard it can be to carry the production all by yourself. Not enough hours in the day. Good luck to you as a solo!

Tarah at NetGalley said...

Would these work in muffin top pans? Or are those too shallow?

pastry studio said...

Bookgirl - you know, I've never used or seen a muffin top pan, but the ramekins I used were 2" deep. Anything much shallower than that might not work. I suppose you could use a regular muffin tin but you'd have to adjust the baking time and you'd also have to be pretty careful inverting them out of the pan!

Bunny said...

Oh my goodness I love this. The lemon cake looks so delicate and delicious! This would be such a wonderful treat after dinner. I'm buying ramekins just so I can make this!

Diana H said...

I love the curd on top, that came out just great.

El said...

Lovely...just lovely...

Springfield Carriage Company said...

I agree, the colors are just lovely.