January 10, 2013

Light, lemon custard cakes

This time last year, I spent a little too much energy focusing on "light" recipes all in the name of January and this belief that we need to talk only about skinny recipes after the holidays.  There's nothing wrong with going light or eating lean but I want to do away with any restrictive kind of "must-do" attitude and just make enjoyment-with-moderation an everyday lifestyle.  And while I love a rich chocolaty dessert, I also enjoy lighter options and actually lean towards them for daily eating even when it comes to desserts.  So I actually wanted to try these light lemon custard cakes not only because it's January but because it sounds like something I'd like to eat any time of year.
These small lemon custard cakes are a lot like soufflés - a cross between airy soufflé/sponge cake and a custard.  By separating the eggs and incorporating whipped whites into the batter, the baked cake is slightly puffed on top, much like soufflé or a fluffy sponge cake, while the bottom reveals  a ready-made sauce in the form of a lemony custard.
I mixed and whipped everything together by hand, using a handful of ingredients.  If you have some lemons, eggs, and milk around, you're well on your way to making this refreshing dessert.

Baking Notes

This recipe from Martha Stewart is simple to put together.  I cut the recipe down by a-third, making 4 rather than 6 servings. 

You'll need to separate a few eggs and whip the whites into soft peaks, which you can do with an electric mixer or by hand.  In my case, I needed to separate two eggs and whip just 2 egg whites so I choose to do so with a whisk (it also gives me a bit more control so I don't overwhip).
Once the frothy whites are combined with the rest of the ingredients, you end up with a loose batter that's foamy on top and somewhat liquid on the bottom.  That's how you end up with that layer effect of custard on the bottom and a spongier cake above it.  Just spoon the batter into lightly buttered ramekins or custard cups. 
The cakes bake in a water bath so you'll need a kettle of boiling water handy.  Lay a clean dishtowel at the bottom of the baking pan and set the cakes on top.  The towel keeps the cups in place and is supposed to ensure more even cooking.  Fill hot water about halfway up the cups and bake for about 20 minutes or so until the cakes are puffed up and lightly browned.
I carefully remove the cakes from the hot water bath and let them cool.  I liked them best while they were still ever so slightly warm but you can also serve them at room temperature.  Just add a light dusting of confectioners' sugar before serving to pretty them up a bit.


Lemon Custard Cakes
From Martha Stewart

- Makes 6 custard cups -

I found this recipe from my Everyday Food cookbook but you can get the recipe directly here @ marthastewart.com.



  1. I love lemon custard cakes...these were one of my favorite desserts that my Mom made me as a kid...they are total comfort food to me, so delicious!

  2. Sounds like you were one lucky kid growing up, Sara! : ) I see why you cook so much now.

    It's too bad custards aren't as popular now as they were. I love a simple egg custard - that's one of my comfort foods and it's so easy to make!

  3. Seriousl, those look absolutely luscious!!! Lemon is my favorite

  4. Thanks! I've been craving lemon tart so this tied me over until then! : )

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