When life gives you lemons, make layer pudding

August 1, 2017 - 12:00am -- Living City

When life gives you lemons, make layer pudding
A recipe for a delicious and easy dessert

By Helen Hardacre

Sometimes a day that starts out like any other can change in the blink of an eye. Anticipation for the day ahead can quickly be replaced by big or small sufferings, as happened to me recently.

Rushing to get to work for a busy day, I went too quickly down the station steps to buy my ticket, landing awkwardly at the bottom and injuring my leg. The pain was agonizing, but equally distressing was the fact that I became “invisible” to everyone else on the crowded platform as I self-consciously limped to try to get a train back home instead of to work. Although the pain was etched on my face, no one wanted to acknowledge that I needed help, and I felt so alone in the crowd. My bag was heavy, but I guess it was nothing compared to the weight of the cross and the abandonment that Jesus felt while he was hanging on it.

My daughter met me and took me to the hospital, showing great care and patience, supporting my weight when I had difficulty holding myself up. Upside down again: who was the parent and who was the child?

Recovering now, with the help of crutches, I am learning to accept help, graciously given by my family and friends, instead of being the one helping everyone else, and I’m enjoying seeing the pleasure it gives them. If I act as though I am still 21 (which was many years ago) and try to rush everywhere, pain shoots through me again. Instead, if I accept my limitations, I am able to focus on life moment by moment. I feel calmer inside and able to notice so much more around me.

My day turned upside down, but has brought some pleasant surprises as a result. One of these is that I have had to take my time cooking and remembered an “upside down” recipe that I had forgotten about. It reminds me of a saying by American writer Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915): “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Instead of “making lemonade,” I made a lemon layer pudding which my family used to love. It magically separates out during cooking and when you cut into it, underneath the sponge hides a layer of delicious lemon custard.

Like this light dessert, life is never what it seems to be, and often when we stop rebelling against suffering and accept it as a share of the cross, it changes for the better.


Lemon layer pudding (serves 4–5)


  • ​3 tablespoons lemon juice and the grated rind of one lemon

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs, separated

  • 1 1/4 cups milk

  • 1/3 cup self-rising flour


Add the lemon rind to the butter and sugar, and cream the mixture until pale. Add the egg yolks and flour, and beat well. Stir in the milk and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Whisk the egg whites stiffly, fold into milk mixture, and pour everything into a fairly large greased oven dish — about 2.75 pints capacity. Stand the dish in a shallow tin of water and cook in the oven at 390 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the top is set and spongy to the touch. To add color, garnish with berries and mint.

First published in New City London

Send us your stories and recipes to livingcity.ed@livingcitymagazine.com


If you are interested to read more articles like this::