My Hungarian grandmother, Irene Perhac, gave me this recipe for a lemon custard soufflé, more of a pudding cake, when I was a young bride of twenty-four and just beginning to learn about cooking. Newly settled in San Diego from Chicago, I remember being thrilled when a neighbor invited me to pick some lemons from her tree. I couldn’t get over those hand-picked lemons, the beginning of my ongoing love affair with Meyer lemons.
What is so special to me about a Meyer lemon is not only its thin, shiny rind, but that it tastes so much sweeter than other lemons I have sampled. Once you begin cooking with Meyer lemons, you won’t want to be without them in your kitchen. I use them almost daily when they are in season, and I trade our navel oranges for Meyer lemons with my neighbor if I am short on lemons.
I have had my own Meyer lemon tree, a gift from my other grandmother, for over twenty-five years now, but I still get excited when the lemons begin to ripen this time of year. This week I picked the first handful, and used one to make this dessert, a recipe I have made again and again. My grandmother didn’t know about Meyer lemons, but she would approve, I think. Although battered and stained, I love the recipe card written out by Grandma, so many years ago.
- ⅓ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup white sugar
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs, separated
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- zest and 2 tablespoons juice from 1 Meyer lemon
- 1 cup whole milk
- Meyer lemon zest curls, optional garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift the flour. Add the sugar, salt and butter. Using a standing mixer, blend ingredients.
- Beat the egg yolks with a fork and add to mixture. Mix until well blended.
- Using a handheld mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold into pudding.
- Pour pudding mixture into a buttered soufflé dish. Place dish in a pan of hot water. Water should be about 2 inches deep.
- Bake 25-30 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Allow soufflé to rest 30 minutes before serving. It can also be served chilled.