Huckleberry Lemon Pudding Cake
Photo by Sara Remington courtesy of Viking Studio, "The Wild Table"
This dead-easy old-fashioned cake pulls a great magic act in the oven. At the end of baking, as you turn over the ramekin, the berry-topped batter has separated into a sponge cake with a feloniously gooey pudding and berry top layer.
Huckleberries and lemon are a dynamic flavor pairing that gives great vigor to this sentimental favorite recipe. Other little berries, like wild blueberries, high-bush cranberries or wild currants are nice here as well.
for the cakes:
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, plus extra for coating ramekins
1 cup huckleberries, cleaned and stemmed
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup milk
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Butter eight 4-ounce ramekins. Sprinkle the insides of the buttered ramekins with sugar to coat, gently shaking out the excess sugar. Divide the huckleberries among the prepared ramekins, covering the bottoms evenly. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan with deep sides. Bring a large pit of water to a simmer while you make the cakes.
Place the butter the 2/3 cup sugar, the salt and the lemon zest in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the flour and mix until well combined. Slowly add the milk to make a smooth batter. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Pour the batter into a large bowl.
Place the egg whites in a clean mixer bowl and whip until they hold firm, creamy peaks.
Fold one-third of the egg whites into the lemon mixture. Quickly but thoroughly, fold in the remaining two-thirds. Divide the batter amongst the prepared ramekins. Pour the simmering water into the baking dish until it climbes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Carefully place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the cakes are puffed and golden. Remove the ramekins to a wire rack and let sit until warm or at room temperature.
Whip the cream with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar until it holds a medium-soft peak. Refrigerate until ready to use.
for the compote:
½ cup sugar
1½ cups huckleberries, cleaned and stemmed
Grated zest of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
Combine the sugar, ¼ cup water, the huckleberries, the lemon zest, the lemon juice, and the salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, Bring to a boil, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar and being careful not to break the huckleberries. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature before serving.
Remove the cakes from the ramekins while they are still slightly warm and before chilling.
Run a thin knife around the inside edges of the ramekins to loosen the cakes, being careful not to cut into them. Turn each ramekin upside down into the palm of your hand and gently shake to release the cake. Immediately turn the cake right side up and place it on the serving plate. Top each cake with a generous spoonful of compote and a dollop of whipped cream. The cakes can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Tips and Techniques
If there are a few stems left on the huckleberries, the will soon soften in the cooking process and not be noticeable.
The cakes are best made the day of serving, but they can be made a day ahead and refrigerated covered.
The compote can be made several days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Substitutions and Variations
Frozen huckleberries work well.