Friday, April 29, 2011

Recipes: Old Fashioned Pudding Cakes!

“Make a remark," said the Red Queen; "it's ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding!" – Lewis Carroll

Lemon pudding cake. Photo: jensteele, Flickr ccl
So today I’m offering two recipes for pudding cakes—one for chocolate addicts, and one for lemon lovers. Pudding cakes are those magical cakes that separate when baked into a layer of cake on top and a bottom layer of sauce. 

For the lazy cook (like me) this is a fantastic bonus. Add on top the fact that it's very tasty and you have a winning dessert.

These recipes couldn’t be more different, and I don’t mean because one is lemon and the other chocolate. It’s in the technique. The chocolate version relies on baking powder and hot water for the loft of the cake; the lemon combines separately whipped whites and yolks which is much like making an angel food cake. Interestingly though, both separate into the same delicious cake and sauce combo.

Who knows when the first pudding cake appeared. I like to assume it was a mistake gone "right." I did find some general information about the history of cakes that I thought you might find of passing interest.

The following information is an edited excerpt from an article about the history of cake from http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcakes.html. Visit the site to get all of the information.

Hot fudge pudding cake with chilli.
Photo: QuintaRoo, Flickr ccl
Ancient cakes were very different from what we eat today. They were more bread-like and sweetened with honey. Nuts and dried fruits were often added. According to the food historians, the ancient Egyptians were the first culture to show evidence of advanced baking skills.

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the English word cake back to the 13th century. It is a derivation of 'kaka', an Old Norse word. Medieval European bakers often made fruitcakes and gingerbread. These foods could last for many months.

What we would consider modern cakes were first baked in Europe sometime in the mid-1600s. This was due primarily to advances in technology (more reliable ovens, manufacture/availability of food molds) and ingredient availability (refined sugar). At that time cake hoops—round molds for shaping cakes that were placed on flat baking trays—were popular.

Cakes were usually made using yeast until the middle of the 1800, when baking powder replaced it. In France, Antonin Carême is still considered one of the most important chefs of modern pastry/cake world. His elaborate creations decorated the tables of the most important figures in France. He baked Napoleon’s wedding cake.

Well I doubt these recipes would be quite elaborate enough for Napoleon’s wedding reception, but they will certainly be welcome additions to your own table.


Photo: smimholt, Flickr ccl
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
From The Betty Crocker™ Cookbook
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp shortening, melted
1 cup chopped walnuts (this can be optional)
1 cup brown sugar, packed 
3/4 cup hot water

Heat oven to 350°F. Measure flour, granulated sugar, 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Blend in milk and melted shortening; stir in nuts (if using). Pour into a 9”x9” pan. Stir together brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup cocoa powder; sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over batter. (Do NOT stir.)

Bake for 45 minutes. While hot, cut into squares; invert each onto dessert plate and spoon sauce over each serving. If desired, serve with sweetened whipped cream. Makes 9 servings.


Photo: jensteele, Flickr ccl
Lemon Sauce Pudding Cake
(no actual source as this cake is so common with slight variations)
Lemon pudding cake is a very old recipe that has been around for a long time. The standard ingredients are basically the same from recipe to recipe. I like this one because of the introduction of lemon rind and butter which adds a little more richness and lemony zing to the finished product.

4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp lemon rind
1 tbsp butter
  
Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Set aside.

Beat together egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon rind, and butter or margarine until thick and light yellow. 

Combine sugar, flour, and salt. Combine this mixture into the yolks and lemon in thirds, beating well after each addition.

Fold the beaten whites into the batter taking care not to deflate the whites. Add 1/3 of the whites initially to lighten the batter. Then fold in the remainder. View the youtube clip below for an example of how to do it properly. It jumps through the process a bit, but shows good technique of folding.


Pour the batter into 8” square baking dish. Place a pan of hot water in the oven, and set the baking dish into the pan. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 45 minutes.

Let cool slightly before serving. The cake will have separated into a fluffy cake top and a lemony sauce below.

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