Yield: Yields 8 individual cakes.
These cakes have a thin layer of pudding on the bottom and a cheesecake-like layer on the top.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter eight 6-oz. ramekins and arrange them in a roasting pan or in two 8×8-inch Pyrex baking dishes. Fill a kettle with about 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar and the egg yolks until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Whisk in the buttermilk, milk, flour, and salt just until smoothly blended. Whisk in the lemon juice.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment) on medium speed until frothy, 30 to 60 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat just until the whites hold soft peaks—the peak should flop over immediately when the beater is lifted—30 to 60 seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and very slowly sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. If necessary, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until the whites hold medium-firm peaks—the peak should hold its shape pretty well when the beater is lifted, but the tip will curl over on itself—30 to 60 seconds.
Spoon one-third of the whites onto the egg yolk mixture, sprinkle with the lemon zest, and gently whisk to blend. Using the whisk, gently fold and stir the remaining whites into the batter. The batter will be light and foamy but thin.
Spoon the mixture evenly among the ramekins—you can fill them to the top. Put the roasting pan with the ramekins in the oven and pour enough hot water from the kettle into the pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the tops of the cakes are light golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. They should spring back slightly when touched. Take the cakes out of the water bath and let cool on a rack to room temperature. Then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before serving. Top the cakes with a small dollop of whipped cream and garnish with a few fresh berries, if using.
Make Ahead Tips
These little cakes can be made up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.
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My husband wasn't crazy about this dessert, but then again he only likes chocolate....I thought it was terrific, lemony and refreshing and great for company because you can make it ahead of time.
Fairly easy to make. I used all the zest from one lemon and there wasn't anything subtle about the flavour, it was lovely. Done in 6 8 oz ramekins they seemed a little small in size, but it was about half pudding and half cooked. I let them cool but didn't refrigerate, I think I'd rather eat them warm, personally.Rated this a 4 from my personal bias, it wasn't a rich dessert, nor chocolate. For a lemon dessert I'd rather have lemon squares, or lemon meringue pie.
Just made these for dessert to finish off a lovely dinner party. They were delicious; creamy with just the right amount of tartness from the fresh lemon. Everyone raved. I just love the fact that these can be made a day ahead - perfect for entertaining. My cakes did not have much 'pudding' at the bottom, if any at all, when they were served but they had a wonderful texture. The recipe only made enough for 6 of my ramkins, but the volume of the whipped egg white could be the reason for this outcome. A keeper recipe!
Made this for Easter and not only did they make a great presentation, they were delicious! I served with whipped cream & fresh blueberries on top. My guests loved them & I will definitely make agin.
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