Strawberries are the harbinger of brighter days ahead and I make the most out of them for the brief time they are in season. And this is a favorite dessert of mine, combining tart lemon and the sweetest fresh in season berries. There are several names for a dish like this – pudding cake, self-saucing cake – but I love the name used in Australia, lemon delicious. It really just sums everything up neatly. A tender layer of cake hovering atop a soft layer of oozing lemon filling, in my version studded with strawberries. It’s kind of a two for one deal.
I like to make this in a deep baking dish that provides lots of room for the cake to rise and the pudding layer to be substantial. I fit the dish into the roasting tray that came with my oven, which has plenty of room for the vessel and the water bath. The gentle water bath method creates the two soft layers of delicious. Be gentle when folding in your egg whites so the batter is nice and light and airy. Cut the strawberries into small little cubes so they are evenly distributed in the batter and easily scooped up with a spoon.I love the extra tang of buttermilk, but you can easily use half and half instead. This dish needs to be made right before serving, but it can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature.
Strawberry Lemon Delicious
¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
Zest of one lemon
3 eggs, separated
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk or half and half
1 cup finely diced strawberries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Choose a baking dish that holds at about 6 cups and a deep roasting pan that it fits in for cooking in a water bath. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
- Beat the butter, ¾ cup sugar and lemon zest together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) until creamy and light. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in another mixing bowl and adding the yolks ot the butter mixture one at time, beating well after each addition. Add the lemon juice the the tolk mixture and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl, then add the flour and buttermilk alternately beating until completely combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the strawberry pieces. Switch to the whisk attachment (or clean and dry the hand mixer beaters) then beat the egg whites in the second bowl, streaming the 2 Tablespoons of sugar in until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy. Spoon a little of the whites into the yolk mixture and stir to combine, then add the rest of the whites in small additions, carefully and gently folding until the whites are combined, scraping from the bottom of the bowl, but being careful not to deflate the mixture. There should be no visible streaks of white left in the batter, but the mixture should be light an airy. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish, set in the roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven, then pour boiling water carefully into the roasting pan (don’t splash in the baking dish) to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Cook for 45 minutes, then carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and leave the dish in the water for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. There will be a lovely light cakey top with a soft pudding-like layer underneath.