I often find myself at this time of year, looking outside, waiting for a glimpse of warmth and for the sun to start peeking out. I also find that along with that feeling, I start to crave fresh foods that coincide with all of those spring fever emotions. Foods that have that burst of citrus that leave a refreshingly cool feeling in your mouth. And without fail, my inner (and outer) food cravings go straight to everything and anything with lemon involved. I find that there is no such thing as having too many recipes that have lemon as the starring role. I love lemon in a variety of dishes from pastas with a great lemon cream sauce to salads with a lemon vinaigrette. It’s my go-to ingredient that I always have on hand that I know I can create so many dishes with. I must admit though that I am absolutely crazy for desserts with lemon–especially a simple dessert that tastes so good that it leaves a lasting impression.
I came across this recipe quite a few years ago while searching for dessert options with fewer calories. I’ve sometimes found that desserts that fit under this category are often flavorless and leave me feeling underwhelmed. So I tried this recipe and was amazed not only at the depth of flavor and the silky mouth feel it had but also the fact that the recipe was super simple to make. I made a few small changes from the original recipe, including swapping out the whole milk for low fat skim milk. If you read my last post on baking ingredients, particularly milk in a recipe, you know that I do not like to switch ingredients where fat is involved but in this case where I was looking to lessen the calories even more, it worked and works quite well. The recipe is also very forgiving. I have often found it daunting to bake a dessert in a water bath where you worry that if you cook it too long, it might lose the delicate sauce at the bottom. But I’ve made this recipe over a dozen times and have never experienced any baking issues.
This dessert is perfect for so many different occasions, whether it be for an after dinner dessert for your family or serving it at a dinner party you’re hosting. Everyone is sure to be left in a state of dessert heaven. The cake itself is a light and airy sponge cake bursting with hints of lemon and is topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. Then, when you think you’ve already been introduced to dessert bliss, you discover a warm, tangy sauce at the bottom and find that it’s the perfect balance between smooth and silky. My mouth is officially watering!
This recipe is made using a water bath technique. You’ll set the ramekins in a shallow baking pan adding enough hot water which will help create the warm sauce at the bottom. It really is a great recipe and super simple to make. As always, before you begin, read through the recipe first and have your ingredients at room temperature.
Pre-heat your oven to 325º. Butter six 8-ounce ramekins, or eight 6-ounce ramekins. Keep in mind that to keep the calorie content low, it is better to use the 6 ounce size. Set the ramekins in a shallow baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks along with the ½ cup granulated sugar until pale and smooth. About 2 minutes. Add the melted butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, milk and the flour mixture. Whisk until completely combined.
At this point you can actually refrigerate the mixture up to 3 hours until you are ready to use it. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites with the ¼ cup of granulated sugar until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. When trying to achieve stiff peaks, the batter should stand up and hold its shape.
Fold egg whites into the batter. Folding is a technique using a spatula shaped like a spoon, where you bring your spatula down the middle of the bowl (first picture), then gently circle around lifting the spatula and mixture up (middle picture), then pressing down again gently (third picture). Mix until completely combined.
With a ladle, divide the batter evenly among the ramekins until they are about 3/4 full. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake until the cakes are puffed and slightly golden on top, about 25-30 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve immediately. Serve with fresh berries for an added touch.