One of my favorite things ever is the Great British Baking Show. It’s like a breath of fresh air for any home baker or food lover. I just calm down right away and watch people bake with fabulous accents and kind souls.
But you do start to notice some differences in the baking categories. Like puddings! I don’t know about you, but I think of snack pack or Jell-O pudding mix from a box. This was new! More like the fabled Yorkshire or figgy puddings. And they even had a specialized category! Self-saucing puddings. Baked puddings that have their own thickened sauce at the bottom of the baking dish. This always intrigued me from a food scientist perspective—it bakes up into a fluffy yet dense cake while the extra reserved liquid from the batter thickens up and adds extra flavor and moisture to the pudding all in one go.
So when I saw a baked pudding while I was perusing my cookbooks recently, I just knew I had to try it! Plus it was lemon which is a win-win for me. I will always have a love affair with lemon in baked goods. And let me tell you. These are my new favorite thing! They should really be the new chocolate lava cakes. Those are so -80’s. More complex in technique because a water bath gets you the most perfect result in the oven and more interesting! I’m obsessed.
But why do these babes need a water bath when they bake? Well they are primarily set by egg proteins! Hence the extra step of whipping egg whites to create the base of the batter. (brush up on your egg protein science if you’d like!) And you know what that means? They are pretty delicate! The proteins set below boiling temperature, so if you heat them too quickly, they may cause the puddings to crack.
Enter the water bath! The water acts to insulate the puddings and more evenly distribute the heat. Pure water cannot be heated above boiling temperature, so you gently heat the proteins to set them at the same time throughout the whole pudding. It also gives you more wiggle room in terms of doneness. Direct air heat from your oven could overcook the proteins in seconds. The indirect heating method of the water bath slows it all down.
Also can I just say? I found these in my Jackson Pollock book which remains one of my favorites to flip through because of its gorgeous images. And after I photographed this recipe, I visited Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and found out that they had a Pollock exhibit! I saw Pollock’s paintings for the first time in real life. So I’m basically winning at life and came full circle that day. Have I convinced you yet to make these? Good.
Baked Lemon Puddings
Adapted from Dinner with Jackson Pollock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large or 2 medium lemons)
1 cup milk
Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Get 6 individual ramekins ready with a large baking dish to set them in.
- In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, flour, and lemon juice. Mixing well and scraping the bowl after the addition.
- Add the milk slowly and scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything is combined.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Add half of the beaten egg whites to the lemon mixture and mix to combine. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.
- Pour the batter into the ramekins, dividing it between the six. Don’t worry, this batter won’t rise much at all, so it should be close to the top of the dish prior to baking.
- Place the ramekins into the baking dish and slide it onto the center rack in the preheated oven. Use a pitcher to pour water into the baking dish until it comes halfway up the side of the ramekins. Be careful not to get any water into the pudding!
- Bake the puddings for 30-35 minutes or until the top of the pudding springs back when lightly pressed and no longer jiggle.
- Very carefully remove the baking dish from the oven taking care not to spill any water. After letting cool for a couple of minutes, use an oven mitt to remove each ramekin from the baking dish to a wire baking rack to cool further. Once slightly warm, no longer hot, serve with a dusting of powdered sugar. There should be a wonderful, thickened sauce at the bottom of each pudding! These would also be delicious with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
- If you wish to eat later, cover and store in the fridge for several days. The puddings can be eaten cold as well!