American-Style Lemon Pudding Cake

DSCF3293.jpg

This is not a pudding in the UK sense of the word; it's just a cake (sponge) made with pudding (custard) mix to give it a moister texture and stronger flavour. But it is delicious. You know when you go to a chain coffeeshop and want a snack or breakfast, and you just know there's like an 80% chance that any slice of cake, any muffin, any scone you get is going to be dry, crumbly and terrible? And yet you do it anyway because you're already there and what else are you going to do, and then you take that first bite, thinking all the while about how you want your slice of cake to taste and then it doesn't. You know that feeling? This cake is what I always want a lemon loaf from a chain coffeeshop to be: moist, citrusy, sweet, with a crisp crust and plush texture perfect for pairing with a cup of tea. And as so often here in the Recipe Box kitchen, I'll defend this cake to the death as an option for breakfast, as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or for dessert, maybe with a scoop of macerated berries on top.

If you make this in a mini tube pan, as I did, you'll have enough left for a very tiny loaf pan. Otherwise, this works great in a standard-sized tube pan or, even easier, a loaf pan. If you're looking for a more strongly citrus flavour, this works well with a lemon drizzle poured over it while still warm. It's also great with a heaping dose of poppy seeds thrown in at the end, but as I can't find them at my supermarket currently, you'll just have to trust me on that.

DSCF3286.jpg
DSCF3291.jpg

Make this on the night before you start a new job, when you want something home-y to calm you down in the morning before your first day hitting the grind... Or, you know, for any other occasion, too.

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. You know I love a citrus dessert, and one this easy that perfects the snack that coffee shops everywhere so often ruin is the best way to spend a rainy day.

DSCF3281.jpg

One year ago: Mocha Cake with Caramel Frosting
two years ago: Battle of the Carrot Cakes
three years ago: Peanut Butter Cookies

the recipe:

Lemon Pudding Cake

the directions:

Preheat oven to 175C/350F and grease a tube pan (or loaf pan).
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
Add lemon extract, zest and dry pudding mix.
Beat in eggs until smooth.
Add oil and orange juice and beat until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 40 minutes, until golden brown on top and a pick inserted in the middle comes out barely sticky.
If using a tube pan, allow to cool for 5-7 minutes, then turn out.

the ingredients:

2 ¾ c (352g) flour
1 ¾ c (350g) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp lemon extract
Zest from one lemon
1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
½ c (120ml) vegetable oil
¾ c (180ml) orange juice

Blintzes with Blueberry Sauce

DSCF3318.jpg

I got married to a pretty awesome guy six years ago yesterday, and despite what the wedding industry will try to tell you, our story did not end there. Our wedding day was a great day, but there have been a zillion more great days for us since then, and we've accomplished way more as a team outside of that day than we accomplished on it.*

But this week also marks NINE years since Judson and I met and started dating, which we're both pretty proud of. We've officially been together for over ¼ of my life and nearly ¼ of Judson's AND for half of that time, we've lived in Scotland. From here on out, more of our relationship will have taken place in Edinburgh than in the US, and I'm pretty thrilled to have hit that milestone. To celebrate six years of wedded bliss (and sometimes less than bliss but still pretty great times), I made us blintzes. These have been on my radar for ages, but since they involve three separate recipes (wrappers, filling, topping), I figured I'd wait until we had a special occasion. And then I waited through like three special occasions because there are a lot of ingredients to make these and, well, I was busy.

DSCF3308.jpg
DSCF3306.jpg
DSCF3320.jpg
DSCF3305.jpg

But when you're married to a man who is indifferent to dessert and hates frosting AND you've already made the two fanciest meals you can think of for anniversaries number 4 and 5, it's time to get creative. I made these for dessert, but if you're really into difficult-but-luxurious breakfasts, they would also make an amazing weekend celebration breakfast for your next birthday, mother's/father's day or anniversary. Either way, swallow the hesitation I know is coming when you see how much dairy this recipe requires and make these soon, because they are delightful.

If you've never had a blintz, think fluffier crepes, bursting with a sweet danish-like filling and topped with a barely sweetened fruit compote. If you can get your hands on peaches, try making a peach topping in lieu of blueberries, or to make the whole recipe a little easier, swap the fruit compote for whatever your favourite flavour of pie filling is (cherry would be phenomenal here). We've made (slightly more controversial) blintzes in the Recipe Box Kitchen before, but these are the ones to which I'll return because, come on, who needs a diet blintz?

*Also like 90% of the time the weather is better than it was that day so that's also nice.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. Worth the effort, and I think you'll agree.

One year ago: Mocha Cake with Caramel Frosting
two years ago: Walnut Butter Cookies
three years ago: 3-ingredient easy bread

the recipe:

Blintzes with Blueberry Sauce

the directions:
blintzes:

At least one hour before cooking, make the blintz batter: combine egg, milk, flour, sugar and salt, beating until very smooth.
Refrigerate while you prepare the filling and topping.

 

 

Filling:

Whisk together cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and cottage cheese until smooth, then set aside.

 


Topping:

Combine sugar and cornflour in a small saucepan and break up any lumps of cornflour before heating.
Heat over low until mixture is clear and thickened slightly.
Add water or orange juice and continue stirring.
Fold in blueberries over low heat, stirring gently.
Add lemon juice and stir once more to combine.

Assembly:

When ready to make blintzes, use the butter to lightly grease a small pan and heat over medium-low heat.
Pour about 2 tbsp of batter into pan and quickly rotate pan so batter spreads evenly over the bottom.
Brown lightly on underside, then turn out WITHOUT cooking the top of blintz.
When all of batter is used, spoon about 1 ½ tbsp of batter into the centre of the COOKED side of the blintz.
Fold left and right edges of blintz over filling and roll up starting from the bottom.
Melt remaining butter in pan and brown filled blintzes, a few at a time, turning as needed to ensure even browning.
Serve warm with sour cream and blueberry sauce.

the ingredients:
the blintzes:

1 egg
½ c (120ml) milk
3/8 c (45g) flour
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp (42g) butter

the filling:

3 oz (80g) cream cheese
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp lemon zest
1/4 c (60g) cottage cheese, blended until smooth

the topping:

6 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp cornflour (cornstarch in the US)
¼ c (60ml) water or orange juice
5 oz (140g) fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ c (60ml) sour cream

Custard Bread Pudding

DSCF3252.jpg

I don't want to brag (yes I do), but I have figured out why people always talk about buying bread and milk when bad weather rolls in, and the answer is simple: bread pudding.

I know it's technically March and we all thought spring was on the way, but if you're stuck under a blanket of snow dealing with the Beast from the East, then this is the perfect thing for you to make today. I mean, I literally got out of bed this morning with no intention of making it, and half an hour later I had a heaping serving for breakfast with a cup of tea, and 10 minutes after that, I'm here telling you about it. If you did any kind of prep for this snow storm, you have the ingredients for this bread pudding. It makes as good of a dessert as it does a luxurious breakfast, and why are you even still here when you could be in your (ahem, warm) kitchen whipping this up?

This is a custard-heavy bread pudding, meaning that the finished product is basically a crisped, toasty layer of bread atop a thick, sweet custard you can sink your spoon into, which is why it doesn't require much bread. If you prefer a 'breadier', more rustic pudding similar to a baked french toast, you can amp up the bread by cutting it into chunks and filling your pan.

DSCF3248.jpg
DSCF3247.jpg
DSCF3250.jpg

If your cupboard is not bare, you can dress this up with a spoonful of vanilla, almond extract, or orange blossom water. Add texture with ½ of an orange's worth of zest, or a small handful of dried cherries or even some toasted chopped pecans for crunch. Sprinkle the finished dish with cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom for a hint of spice, or just go for broke and have it plain- you won't regret it.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. Nothing this easy to make on a frigid day should receive anything less.

DSCF3251.jpg

One year ago: Mocha Cake with Caramel Frosting
two years ago: Western Swiss Steak
three years ago (new!): Crepes

the recipe:

Custard Bread Pudding

the directions:

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.
Butter your baking dish.
Toast the bread until just crisp but not yet browned.
Butter the toast, then brush with the 3 tbsp of milk and press into the bottom of your baking dish, slicing to fit if necessary.
Meanwhile beat eggs until foamy, then add sugar and beat until smooth and uniform.
Add milk and beat until well-blended.
If using vanilla or any other extracts, add them now.
Pour egg mixture over toast in baking dish and press bread back down, making sure it's fully saturated (it will float, but as long as it's saturated, you're good to go).
Bake 20-25 minutes until centre of dish just jiggles when you nudge it.
Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired, and serve warm.

the ingredients:

Butter
2-3 slices of bread (3 slices of standard sandwich bread will neatly fill a 9-inch square baking dish, use less according to your plate size)
2 c + 3 tbsp milk, divided
3 eggs
1 c sugar
Optional garnishes according to your taste (see above for suggestions)