Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Baking: Learning Through Experimentation...

Just churned out Better Home & Garden's Lavender Lemon Pudding Cakes for a dinner party last night-- these are a cinch to make, quick as a whip, and pretty much lovely exactly as is; though of course, I've got a few adaptations...

First: I'd give the rock-sugar/lavender mixture the skip at the end, and just sprinkle a little raw sugar on top instead. There is really just the right amount of lavender flavor in these cakes, and I think that mixture would tip them over the edge and into "eating-a-candle-status". Not good. 

Second: If you're feeling daring, I recommend topping this cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of sea salt. That's the joint!!

EAT THESE WITH THAT. The extra fat of the olive oil along with the salt, combining with the creaminess of the ice cream, the tartness of the lemon, and the subtle aromatic lavender flavor is... pretty much perfect.

Lavender Lemon Pudding Cakes

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon dried lavender
2 lemons
6 tablespoons granulated sugar (+ more for baking dishes)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 eggs, separated
1.) Finely shred 1 Tbsp. peel from lemons. Zest two lemons. (Not sure what the difference is between zest and finely grate, but it elicited a fair amount of discussion, which ended in zesting...) Juice lemons (1/4 cup). Set aside. Butter six 6-oz. ramekins or custard cups with softened butter; sprinkle each with sugar tapping out any excess. Set aside.
2.) In a large bowl combine 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar and the flour. Whisk in lemon peel, lemon juice, and melted butter until smooth. In a small bowl whisk together egg yolks and strained milk. Whisk milk mixture into flour mixture until smooth; set aside.
3.) In a small bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Stir a small amount of the egg whites into the lemon mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining egg whites (batter will be thin).
4.) Pour batter into prepared dishes, filling each three-fourths full; place in a shallow baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove pan from oven and cool cakes on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place remaining dried lavender and rock sugar in a blender. Cover; blend until fine. Skip this and just use raw sugar... Sprinkle over cakes. Serve warm with sea salt ice cream. 
This is a perfect spring-time dessert! 

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