Sunday, March 09, 2008

Has Life given you meyer lemons? Lucky you! Make Custard Cake!

Last week, the lovely Jen brought me a bag full of meyer lemons. Apparently, this is a record year for lemons, and if you can make friends with someone with a meyer lemon tree, I highly recommend it. Meyer lemons make the best lemon drops, FYI.
Yesterday, I decided to try this. Meyer lemon custard cake. Oh-em-eff-gee is it good.
G O O D. good. Sponge-y cake on top, lemony custard underneath. Yum. And trying to figure out how to make into a portable cupcake. It is that good.
There is so little flour in it, that it would be easily converted into a gluten-free recipe for those who swing that way. My love to you, Laura and Jen.

Of course I changed the single guy chef's recipe just a bit, as I am fully incapable of following a recipe exactly. It also allows me to re-print the recipe (with credit to the original inspiration, who apparently got it from her, though I could not find Martha's version) with less guilt.

It looked so easy that I decided to make a double batch - one larger souffle type, and some of the little individual custards, as were recommended with the recipe. I like how it looks like it had little lemon puddin' babies.

This is how I made it:

Meyer Lemon Custard Cake

3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar (I dipped into my vanilla sugar jar)
1/2 cup fresh meyer lemon juice (this was 3 lemons for me)
2 T flour
1 cup half & half (or whole milk or cream, depending on your desired
richness factor)
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsps lemon zest (optional, and if you want your kids to eat it, I would
suggest omitting it)
1/4 tsp salt

  • Whisk egg yolks with sugar until light and creamy
  • Add lemon juice, whisk well,
  • Add flour, whisk well,
  • Add half & half, and (optional) zest and vanilla,
  • In a separate bowl, whip egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form, but not
    too dry.
  • Pour lemony yolk mixture into whites, and mix - or coax - gently but firmly
    together with a whisk,
  • Pour into buttered glass or ceramic souffle dish or custard cups.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F (325 if your oven runs 'hot') in a bain marie (line a roasting pan with kitchen towel, pour very hot or boiling water halfway up sides of baking dish): 25 minutes for individual custards, and approx 35 minutes for the souffle or cake size.

The flavor was very light and lemony - even though I used twice as much lemon juice as the inspiring recipe called for. Meyer lemons are a hybrid between the tangerine and the lemon, so they lack the pucker-factor of a traditional lemon, but they are so superior and delicious, so fragrant, sweet and rich in color that one can easily forgive them this.

I made a lavender cream for the top, which tasted as impressive as it sounds. I snipped a few fresh lavender buds and dried them out in my toaster oven on 'warm' for about 1/2 hour, before mixing them into the cream, and it was so good, that at this rate, I am going to use up all my own lavender quite quickly and will have to consider buying it in bulk from the health food store! (and must plant more...note to self...)

I followed these instructions for the lavender cream, but I think I whipped it a bit too much, because I ended up with more of a butter clotted cream, which is what I then told my guests it was (I call this: a culinary manipulation), and they were duly impressed. (bwaaahahaha!)

Back to the importance of food. The lavender aroma and flavor of the cream are so nicely played off of the lemon, one might consider it a perfect symbiosis. I am going to try the lavender cream again, but I prefer a real whipped cream to a loose cream, so rather than boiling the cream, I would just boil the lavender with the honey, and mix it (after it has cooled) into the (chilled and not boiled) whipping cream. Or I will just make lavender/vanilla sugar instead.

oops, couldn't wait!


mamadaisy said...

you really should start freelance writing for a food magazine. i used to do it, and you have a fabulous foodie voice.

Lin said... going to make it this weekend. My heaviest producing Meyer lemon tree suddenly was looking poorly. Turns out a flippin' gopher had gone underground and just chewed through the trunk. Completely severed it. I have a mini pile of these beauties languishing on a chair on my front porch. This cake sounds delish. And, um, do you need any special kind of lavender? I have at least 75 lavender plants around this place. Can I send you any or does it have to be a certain kind and fresh that day sort of thing?

gwendomama said...

J - you flatter me so!!! I would lurve to add freelance to my job roster...
where to begin?

Lin - YES!!! SEND me some lavender! any kind is fine, as long as it is not sprayed and the buds are the best (you know what they say about the buds!)....


capello said...

oh yum. i'm totally making this. and yes, GLUTEN-FREE. :-)

the fruitfemme said...

oooohhhh. . . .lovely lemons! A great picture on a kind of gray day here in Kansas. I will definitely try the recipe.

Been looking through your blog. Very moving, well written, captivating and yummy as well.

Melinda said...

I came to your blog by way of Dustpan Alley, and I've been reading... laughing, and teary-eyed too.... wow.

Anyway, I just recently made this as well (I also add about twice as much lemon & lemon zest). Amazing, and SO EASY! The lavender cream sounds wonderful...mmmmm.

Glad I found your blog!