“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
7th grade. Just as the pimples began their colonization of my T-zone, I developed the facility to produce a reliably edible sugar cookie whenever my sweet tooth demanded. (Query for further research: Does a causal connection obtain between acne and sucrose-craving?)
Ticking off recipe steps, point A never led anywhere but to point B. I was no longer baking like a child.
Will I spend the rest of my lifetime clawing my way back to the flour-faced, batter-splattered abandon of the child baker?
But lemon pudding cakes offer at least an excellent study in wanton juvenile culinary heroics. Beat up a batter, don’t mind the streaks. Plop it in a hastily greased dish. Dump sugar on top. Sugar you massaged with lemon zest, licking half of it off fingers crystal-encrusted. Slosh lemon juice over all. Don’t hold your breath as the acidic moat licks the ramekin’s rim. Courage. Shoot it into the oven, a doughy, piebald mangle. And for the love of the Inner Child—do NOT wash the dishes.
Soon the syrup will be effervescent as Charybdis, hissing and spitting as you navigate the plump cakes from the oven to the cooling rack. Only now must you restrain the child baker. Patience. Patience. Let the bubbling quagmire fizzle itself into silence. Let the pudding congeal at the bottom. Let the aerated cake sink into the mire.
Then dive in. Preferably with a miniature spoon.
Lemon Pudding Cakes or How to Make a Heroic Mess
Adapted from Garden Therapy
- Zest of one lemon
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice (about two lemons)
- ¾ cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup nondairy milk
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease two 8 ounce ramekins and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
Massage the lemon zest into the sugar and let sit for several minutes to infuse.
Combine the lemon juice and water in a small saucepan over medium high. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and ¼ cup of the zesty sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, oil, and vanilla. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet in two installments, stirring just until combined.
Divide the batter between the ramekins. Sprinkle half of the sugar over each. Pour half of the lemon juice over each. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake is golden and syrup is burbling merrily around the rim. Let the pudding set for 15 minutes before diving in. Or, chill, covered, for an equally delightful treat.