Episode 4, GBBO 2014, Signature Bake

Self-Saucing Puddings

A self-saucing pudding, as the name implies, is a dessert (“pudding” in the Queen’s English) that creates its own sauce as it cooks. Mary Berry explained in this episode that there are two types: a sponge that forms a sauce at the bottom while it bakes and a “classic fondant” with a melted center (think chocolate lava cakes). Fondant, in this context, isn’t referring to the thick sugary coating on a cake but rather comes from the French fondre, which means “to melt.”

The bakers in the Great White Tent favored the fondant variety, most of them adding a different flavored center to their sponge mixture to form the sauce. Some of the best were Richard’s Black Forest chocolate fondants with a cherry coulis center and Kate’s chocolate and salted caramel molten puddings. Luis, Chetna, Norman and Diana all tried their hand at making a sponge with a sauce at the bottom, with varying degrees of success. Luis’ pears in puddings, unfortunately, ended up with a sauce that was too watery to satisfy the judges. Chetna’s rhubarb, strawberry and orange puddings weren’t saucy enough, and Norman’s sticky toffee pudding with treacle sauce was serviceable but “untidy,” in Mary’s opinion. Diana’s orange and lemon curd pots, on the other hand, were “beautiful,” according to Paul Hollywood.

My saucy pudding is similar to Diana’s — a citrusy, light sponge with a custard-like layer at the bottom. I used Meyer lemons, which are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, and I added a bit of raspberry coulis to the bottom of each dish as well as a swirl on top, both for flavor and for a colorful flair. 

The first time I made raspberry coulis was to go with my Raspberry Mocha Layered Meringue. This simple sauce is made by cooking raspberries just enough to break them down (You don’t want to overcook them or you’ll lose that luscious crimson color!), then pressing them through a sieve to remove the seeds and pulp. The fresh, intense raspberry flavor goes perfectly with the tangy bright Meyer lemons in this saucy pudding. 

I will admit, it took me a couple tries to get this recipe just right. The first time I made it, I left them in the oven just a little too long, and there wasn’t much sauce at the bottom. The second time around, I took them out of the oven right at 20 minutes, and the custard layer was thicker and creamier, while the sponge layer was light and fluffy, almost like a soufflé. 

I know I’ve said in the past that I won’t usually practice the recipes for My Great British Baking Challenge, but this one was so easy and the results so satisfying that I wanted to present you, my dear readers, with a recipe you can depend on, whether you’re making it for company or for an evening in with the family. 

The trickiest part about these Raspberry Lemonade Saucy Puddings is beating the egg whites and folding them in to the rest of the mixture. You want to beat them just to stiff peak stage. Any longer and they’ll be too dry and lumpy and harder to incorporate into the sponge mixture. Fortunately, the small amount of sugar whipped into the egg whites stabilizes them, so it’s less likely they’ll be overbeaten.

When folding in egg whites, the point is to be gentle enough to maintain as much air in the mixture as possible and thorough enough that there are no lumps or streaks of egg white that haven’t been incorporated. The best way to do this is to start by “lightening the batter.” This means stirring one-fourth to one-third of the beaten egg whites into the batter first. It’s okay if you still see some lumps at this point, but this will make it easier to incorporate the rest of the egg whites. Then you add the remaining egg whites (or do it in two or three stages for a large batch). Using a clean rubber spatula or large metal spoon, cut through the middle of the mixture, pulling the spatula from the farthest edge of the bowl toward you. Then draw the spatula around the edge of the bowl back to the starting point, gently lifting batter from the bottom of the bowl and folding it over the egg whites. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the motion. Doing this over and over again will gradually incorporate the egg whites until you won’t see any more lumps or streaks.

To create the raspberry-lemon custard sauce layer, add a teaspoon or two of raspberry coulis to the bottom of each ramekin before spooning the sponge mixture over it. After dividing the batter equally among the eight ramekins, drizzle a little more coulis over the top and use a narrow palette knife to swirl it around, creating a pretty marbled pattern (see photo).

These puddings are baked in a hot water bath, or bain-marie, so make sure you have a pot of water simmering on the stove before you make the batter. Preheat the oven and place eight buttered ramekins in a deep-sided roasting pan so that you can fill the ramekins and then pop the whole pan in the oven right away, pouring the hot water into the roasting pan after you place it in the oven. That will prevent the water from sloshing around while you transfer the pan to the oven. 

As I said earlier, don’t let the puddings overcook or you’ll lose that custard layer at the bottom. They should look dry on top and just set. Mine didn’t really brown but just turned slightly golden. Once you take them out of the oven, use a metal spatula to carefully transfer each ramekin to a cooling rack. Don’t let any water splash onto the sponges. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before giving them a dusting of powdered sugar and garnishing with fresh raspberries and candied lemon zest.

For just a little bit of effort, these puddings have a big ooh-and-aah factor. Perfect for a dinner party, they can be served warm or cold. I’d suggest making them ahead of time and warming them ever-so-slightly in the microwave. Then serve them with more raspberry coulis on the side to give them an even bigger burst of flavor and make these self-saucing puddings even saucier!

Raspberry-Lemonade Saucy Puddings

Recipe for candied lemon zest adapted from TaraTeaspoon.com
Credit for raspberry coulis: AllRecipes.com

For the candied lemon zest:

  • 2 lemons (for zest only), Meyer lemons preferred
  • ½ c. water
  • ¾ c. sugar, divided

    For the raspberry coulis:

    • ¾ lb. (12 oz.) raspberries
    • 2 T. sugar
    • 1 t. lemon juice

      For the puddings:

      • 1 c. sugar, divided
      • 4 T. salted butter, softened
      • Zest of 1 lemon, Meyer lemon preferred
      • 4 eggs, separated
      • ½ c. all-purpose flour
      • ½ t. baking powder
      • ¼ t. salt
      • Juice of 3 lemons (1/3-1/2 c.), Meyer lemons preferred
      • 1 c. whole milk

        For garnish:

        • 2 T. powdered sugar
        • 24 Fresh raspberries


          1. First, zest two lemons with a vegetable peeler, a paring knife or a zester like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_ov95CeatM, being careful to only get the outer layer of the skin, not the white pith underneath. (You can then juice the lemons to use in the pudding.) If using a peeler or knife, cut the strips into thin strands.
          2. Bring ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar to boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the zest and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the zest is translucent. Remove from heat and strain the zest. (You can reserve the syrup for use in drinks or on pancakes.) Place the zest on a piece of wax paper for a few minutes to drain.
          3. Put the remaining ¼ c. sugar in a bowl. Add a few strands of zest at a time and toss in the sugar, separating the strands gently if they’ve stuck together. Spread on a clean piece of wax paper or parchment paper to set while you make the puddings.
          4. To make the raspberry coulis, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a saucepan and, over medium heat, cook and stir just until berries break down, sugar dissolves and sauce is heated through, about 3-7 minutes. Remove from heat and press berries through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds and pulp. Cool sauce to room temperature. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
          5. To make the puddings, preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in center of oven. Butter 8 small ramekins (mine hold about 6 fluid ounces each) or oven-proof teacups. Bring 8-10 cups of water to a simmer and leave on low heat. (It will be added to the roasting pan later to bake the puddings.)
          6. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Add the rest of the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and zest, and beat until mixture is pale in color. Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the butter mixture and mix well. Slowly pour the lemon juice and milk into the mixture, stirring gently to combine.
          7. In another, clean mixer bowl, beat egg whites until frothy and beginning to form soft peaks. Sprinkle in the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter, then carefully fold in the remainder using a large metal spoon or rubber spatula. Do not overmix, but be sure there aren’t any large chunks of egg white left.
          8. Pour about 1½ teaspoons of raspberry coulis into the bottom of each ramekin. Then spoon the batter on top, dividing it equally among the eight ramekins. Drizzle some of the coulis over each one and swirl with a knife to get a marbled effect. Transfer the roasting pan with the ramekins to the center rack of the oven and carefully pour the simmering water into the roasting pan so it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, being careful not to splash water into the ramekins.
          9. Bake for 20 minutes. Puddings should look dry on top and light golden but not browned. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and transfer ramekins to a cooling rack with a metal spatula. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar. Garnish with raspberries and candied zest. Best served warm with raspberry coulis on the side.

          Next week: Tiramisu Cake

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