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A lemony dessert. I wouldn’t serve anything else after lobster. Or seafood Newburg. Or roasted cod. Or weeknight ginger shrimp from my pals at Loulies.

You have a good meal, and you want something sweet but not cloying to finish. Chocolate is too heavy (I know, I know, hard to hear). Peaches are out of season. Grammy’s lemon sponge not only fits the bill, it’s a party-trick dessert: It makes its own topping. As Gram wrote in her note to me, “It is something like a souffle but some of the mixture settles to the bottom of the dish, forming a very nice sauce.”

(For those of you curious as to the recipe in the photo at the top of the blog, that’s the lemon sponge recipe written in Grammy’s own exuberant scrawl.)

Fancy enough? A dollop of creme fraiche, and yes!

I made this for dinner last night, just four of us, and it was the perfect size. Stretching the recipe to feed five does not work, but doubling does. And while I’ve classified this as a family dessert, my wonderful husband pointed out that making it in individual servings — employing the fleet of ramekins we have tucked on the high shelf — would make it pretty fancy, special enough for a dinner party. The only other thing we might want to work on is the name: Lemon sponge. Shall we call it pudding?

Last night’s version was made with an Improved Meyer lemon. If you’ve never used a Meyer lemon for something, do so without delay. The original Meyer lemon was thought to be a cross between a lemon and an orange; one tragic genetic issue later, the Improved Meyer became the tree of choice. These fruits are sweet, less acidic than a regular grocery-store lemon and beautifully juicy.

If you have an orange in the house, you can add the grated rind of half an orange — lovely additional color and depth of citrus flavor.

Lemon Pudding

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Juice and rind of one lemon
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour and melted butter. Stir in lemon rind and juice, egg yolks and milk. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; add whites to the lemon mixture, and gently fold in. Pour batter into a 2-quart baking dish (a nice one, to take to the table) or four 6-ounce ramekins.

Set your baking dish in a pan large enough to hold it (an 8-inch Pyrex pan holds my 2-quart souffle dish); add warm water to the exterior pan, creating a warm-water bath for your lemon-pudding dish. Bake 45 minutes, until top of pudding is golden. Serve immediately.

Recipe and photographs copyright 2010 Garside Group LLC

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