It’s bitterly cold in Melbourne at the moment. We don’t usually get seriously cold here in June (and I’m sure you Europeans and Americans reading this would laugh at my definition of seriously cold, since it doesn’t involve snow, or even frost). I actually really like the cold, but there is a different quality either about it or about me this year, because I don’t remember ever having such constantly cold feet before (NB: an alternative hypothesis might involve failed central heating, but we had that a few years ago, so I know exactly how that feels, and this is something different).
Anyway, it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I view hot desserts as the absolutely best way to deal with cold weather. And so here I was with this Margaret Fulton baking cookbook and a glorious farmers’ market lemon and I though, I know, I’ll do lemon delicious pudding. Only I don’t have butter. I will do dairy-free lemon delicious pudding! And then I thought (and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this), actually, I haven’t posted much in my blog this week. How can I change this recipe so that I can write about it? And then my eyes fell on the scary, wrinkly little kaffir limes I bought at the market and I thought, why not?
I’ve never cooked with kaffir lime or even kaffir lime leaf before. I find the scent of it like a more floral and astringent version of lime, so it makes sense that one uses the zest and the leaf in curries. I can see that working well. The stallholder told me not to use the juice, but not why, and I wanted to use the juice, so I sent Andrew off onto the internet to check that it wasn’t poisonous. It isn’t, so we were good to go!
The result? A surprisingly rich, mysteriously-flavoured citrus pudding. The lime has kept its floral, slightly shocking flavour, but it doesn’t overwhelm the pudding. I almost want to pair it with a spice, but I don’t know which spice would fit with it (I just don’t know my Thai flavours, and I think that’s the direction to go in). Also, I don’t know whether it was the eggs or my new-found ability to make sponge cake, but the lemon sponge was far and away the best I’ve made – so fluffy and light! And very warming on a cold winter’s night…
Your Shopping List100 g softened butter or nuttelex grated rind and zest of 1 lemon grated rind and zest of 1 kaffir lime 150 g caster sugar 3 eggs, separated 1/2 cup self-raising flour 1 1/4 cups milk (soy milk works here)
Now what will you do with it?
Preheat the oven to 180°C, and grease a 4-cup dish with butter or margarine. A soufflé dish would work here, if you have one. I don’t, but a little corningware casserole pot works just fine.
Cream the butter and sugar until you get bored with this step. I mean, yes, light and fluffy is what we are aiming for here, but I rarely get that far, and given how well this sponge worked out, I’m feeling vindicated in my laziness! Beat in the lemon and kaffir lime zest and then the egg yolks.
Beat in the flour and the milk, alternately. This is a very liquid batter, and the moment you add the milk it will curdle horribly, so don’t be alarmed. I found that there is *just* enough flour to keep the final version from being curdled. Though it is still quite liquid.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the batter along with your lemon and forbidden kaffir lime juice. Incidentally, I find the best tool for this is a silicone spatula – it incorporates the egg-white without flattening all the air out of it, and is also handy for making sure you get all the egg-white into the bowl, and then all the batter into the dish.
At this point, your batter will still be very, very wet, but it will be light and fluffy, too. See? If you’d let the butter and sugar go light and fluffy, this recipe would have been light and fluffy twice, which is just wasteful.
Now, however, is not the time to pause and admire the cloud-like softness of your batter, because those egg-whites won’t hold it up forever. Pour it straight into that casserole dish and get it cooking. Bake for one episode of Leverage, or 50 minutes, whichever seems more appropriate at the time.
The pudding is done when it is cakey and risen and golden on top, but still liquid at the bottom – this is basically a self-saucing pudding, with the liquid part serving as sauce to the cakey part. I served it with ice-cream, but I think this was a mistake – this pudding is rich enough that it might even be better plain. It should definitely be hot, though.
I am still kicking myself that I didn’t use coconut milk instead of dairy milk in this recipe. I have a feeling that kaffir lime and coconut pudding would be amazing! So yes, dairy-free is easy for this one. Egg-free would be very tricky because of the egg-white thing. Are there good fake egg-whites out there? I’ve never gone looking.
Working on the principal that you can make a good gluten-free sponge cake using cornflour, I strongly suspect that cornflour would work here, too, to make it gluten free. Your biggest problem would be getting the cornflour not to form lumps in such a wet batter – I’d be inclined to sift the cornflour into a separate bowl, add all the milk to the butter and egg-yolk mixture, and then pour and incorporate that slowly into the cornflour.
A gluten-free version of this pudding would also, I think, be low fructose, though I am no longer willing to make any blanket statements about fructose, having spent several hours last weekend trying to find two reputable websites that agreed with each other and failing. I rather suspect that fructose intolerance is so individual that there is no definitive list, but if the various academic departments of nutrition would stop claiming that a) they have the definitive list – which always contradicts everyone else’s lists – and that b) all the other academics in the field are charlatans, this would be helpful.
I would love to see someone who knows more about curries and kaffir lime as a flavour suggest some interesting flavour pairings for this pudding. As I said, it almost wants spices, and coconut would, I think go well (mmm, coconut milk ice-cream to serve!), but I just don’t know enough to speculate.
Also, I have to share with you an unexpected bonus of making this recipe – your hands will smell like kaffir lime for ages afterward. Even after you wash them. (Well, I suppose you could keep washing them for ages until they don’t smell like kaffir lime, but why would you want to?)
This time last year…Market Day Cardoons Recipe: Croissant and raspberry pudding with lavender