April Fools! “Eggs and Toast”…
…that are really meyer lemon pudding, meyer lemon curd and toasted cinnamon cake slices!
I saw this recipe from Gourmet on Epicurious a little while ago and have had it on my “to cook” list…what better occasion to make it than on April Fool’s day? I am most definitely not someone who lives for April Fool’s Day and all the pranks to be played — but I’m a sucker for foods that are created to look like something other than they are. The clever factor gets me every time!
To make this dessert, you sterilize a few eggshells, then fill them with lemon pudding (for the egg white) and pipe in a center of lemon curd (for the egg yolk.) I *finally* found Meyer lemons in our store this week, so I made the pudding and curd with those. YUM. I picked up two eggcups to serve them as you’d serve a soft-boiled egg with toast soldiers. I’ll be serving it for dessert tonight — think B will be surprised? (B, I know you’ll be reading this, but hopefully not until afterwards!)
These are tromp l’oeil “eggs and toast,” which is French for “trick the eye” — the term can be used to describe anything that misleads or deceives the senses; more specifically, it refers to an art form that creates such illusions. From Wikipedia: “…an art technique involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in three-dimensions, instead of actually being a two-dimensional painting.” The Wikipedia page has a lot of really interesting examples and pictures of different mediums in which the style is applied, and there’s even a museum in France dedicated to tromp l’oeil — which is now on my “must visit” list!
One last note; the original recipe used anise seeds in the toast — which would have been really cute, and given the appearance of a seeded rye bread. I’m not a big fan of anise seeds, so I just opted to include some ground cinnamon in the batter and call it cinnamon toast.
Tromp L’oeil “Eggs and Toast”
Adapted from Gourmet, April 2007
8 extra-large eggs (I couldn’t find jumbo organic eggs)
2 tsp white vinegar
For lemon pudding:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For tromp l’oeil cinnamon toasts:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Sterilize the eggshells:
Use a sharp knife to lightly tap around the top third of each eggshell to loosen it. Remove the top of the eggshell with the knife, dump the eggs out into a bowl (reserve them for the lemon curd/lemon pudding/toast) and use the knife or your fingers to peel out any remaining bit of membrane clinging to the inside of the shells.
Place the empty eggshells in a saucepan, cover them with 2 inches of cold water, add the vinegar and bring them to a gentle simmer. Gently simmer them for 15 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon and let them cool and dry. Store them in the refrigerator (in an empty egg carton or airtight container) until you’re ready to use them.
Make the pudding:
Whisk together the cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan, then whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently. When the milk comes to a boil, continue whisking for another 2 minutes, until it is very thick. Remove the pudding from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and butter. Pour it into a large bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming, and let it cool. Store the pudding in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Make the toasts:
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and butter and flour an 8x4x3-inch loaf pan.
Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs and sugar. Using the whisk attachment, beat at high speed until the mixture triples in volume and is thick enough to form a ribbon that lasts about 2 minutes before dissolving — about 12 to 18 minutes. The mixture will be pale, pale yellow.
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the batter into 3 additions. Add the cooled melted butter, and fold it in to incorporate. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool the loaf for 5 minutes in the pan, then invert it to cool on a rack for 30 minutes more.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
After the loaf has cooled for 30 minutes, trim off the ends and cut it into 1/2-inch thick slices. Spread these out on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 7 minutes, until undersides are golden brown. Flip the slices over and bake for another 5 minutes.
Assemble the desserts:
Arrange the eggshells in an empty egg carton or in egg cups. Spoon about 2 tbsp lemon pudding into each eggshell, then use your finger or a spoon to make a small well in the center. Put some lemon curd in a plastic bag and twist the bag firmly just above the curd. Snip off the corner of the bag to create a 1/4-inch opening. Pipe about 1 tbsp curd into the center of each egg to form the “yolk.” Serve the eggs with spoons and the toasted cake slices.