American-Style Lemon Pudding Cake

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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.

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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.

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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

Custard Bread Pudding

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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.

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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.

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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)

Better Than Sex Cake, or, Piña Colada Pudding Cake

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Presented without comment, except to say that a mimeographed copy of a recipe labelled simply 'BETTER THAN SEX' and previously owned by my grandmother is probably the best way to explain my 2018 so far. Happy Valentine's Day, friends!

 

the verdict: 

3 spoons out of five. This cake is really tasty and (these days) unusual, but the whole 'make it the night before, then decorate it right before you serve it' make it a bit of a faff and I can't see myself going through it again. That said, if pineapple and coconut are your thing, this cake is a moist tropical paradise with the texture of a sticky toffee pudding and all the flavour of a beachside cocktail. Make up a different name for it and serve it to your friends, and no one will be the wiser.

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ONE YEAR AGO: CRAZY CHOCOLATE CAKE
TWO YEARS AGO: CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH DATE FILLING

The recipe:

Better Than Sex Cake

the directions:

Make cake as directed.
While cake bakes, heat pineapple and sugar to a boil and cook until sugar melts and mixture thickens slightly.
When cake is done baking, poke all over with a wooden skewer.
Once cake is mostly cool, pour pineapple mixture over it and spread evenly.
Allow to cool completely, then spread pudding evenly over cake.
Refrigerate overnight.
Immediately before serving, whip the cream with powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
Spread whipped cream over cake and decorate with toasted coconut.

the ingredients:

1 recipe yellow cake (from ½ of this recipe, or your favourite 8x8 cake)
10 oz (295ml) crushed pineapple with juice
½ c (100g) sugar
2 c (470ml) vanilla pudding (your favourite recipe or, if you're stateside, 1 3.4oz box instant vanilla pudding)
1 ½ c (360ml) whipping cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar
¼ c (20g) desiccated coconut, toasted in the oven until brown