My grandmother Louise was the epitome of the western rancher’s wife. She could get up in the middle of the night, wrangle the loose cattle, repair the fence and not one perfect pin curl would be out of place. She managed the daily business operations of the farm and ran the house like an admiral runs a fleet. A full hearty breakfast for the crew prepared and served by 6am, lunch at noon, followed by a snack out to the fields by 3pm. She also managed to go into town for her ladies group, shopping, errands; have the house spotless, be impeccably dressed clean with a fresh hot wholesome meal on the dinner table by 7pm. Louise was the amalgamation of Annie Oakley and June Cleaver.
My grandmother had an apron on my waist and a whisk in my hand before my umbilical cord had fallen out. I was her faithful sidekick. She had the patience of a saint along with the grace of an angel. My grandfather’s favorite after dinner treat was the most amazing lemon cake that has ever been made. My grandmother made it for him frequently and he was so delighted by it that he would actually get a tear of exaltation in his eye when he finished it. This is also my favorite dessert.
I would beg her to teach me how to make this heavenly delight; I remember one day when I was about six years old she decided that it was finally time to learn to make it. One warm early spring day Louise and I walked out to the chicken coup to gather the eggs; then we headed to town to visit my Aunt Mabel at city hall to get lemons.
I grew up in a small town that certainly had its quirky charm. There was one of everything; one grocery store and one hardware store. Like most charming Mayberry-esque towns everything was on the main street, including city hall where my Aunt Mabel worked as the city clerk. In the front window of city hall was a potted lemon tree that grew the most juicy and delicious lemons that I have ever tasted; just one of the many perks and quirks of a small town. There we collected the lemons for our cake and took them back to the house.
Back at the ranch my grandmother patiently taught me step by step to make this luscious lemon pudding cake that has been a favorite in my family for generations.
The recipe we are going to share with you is easy, elegant and foolproof. It versatile enough for any night of the week, or for a special occasion…
4 eggs whites and yolks separated
6 tablespoons butter melted
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk
2 fresh lemons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish, and zest and juice the lemons.
Place egg whites in a bowl and beat egg whites slowly until stiff peaks form slowly adding 1/2 cup sugar.
In a large bowl combine flour, salt, vanilla, butter, 1 1/2 cups remaining sugar, milk, lemon juice, egg yolks and lemon zest.
Fold whipped egg white mixture into the batter, then pour into prepared baking dish.
Place the baking dish inside of a shallow pan of hot tap water until the water is about halfway up the outside of the dish.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or chilled dusted with confectioners sugar and fresh whipped cream.