Specialty of the House: Lemon buttermilk pudding from Oakleaf

aweigl@newsobserver.comSeptember 20, 2013 


Lemon buttermilk pudding with blackberry sauce

JULI LEONARD — jleonard@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

  • The restaurant

    Oakleaf, 480 Hillsboro St #500, Pittsboro, 919-533-6303, oakleafnc.com

Editor’s note: In what may be a Specialty of the House first, two readers requested the same recipe.

I wanted to request that you print the recipe for the exquisite lemon buttermilk pudding at Oakleaf restaurant in Pittsboro. I have ordered it on 4 or 5 occasions. It is beyond compare. It has been served with different berry sauces underneath it a few times but they are all a perfect compliment to the tartness of the pudding. Oakleaf is a true treasure in our little town of Pittsboro!

Kersten Fitzgerald


Last night I drove from my home near downtown Durham to Pittsboro to dine at Oakleaf. I was not disappointed. It was well worth the Tuesday night trek. Our entire meal was fantastic. Could you persuade the talented chef to share the recipe for his ecstasy-inducing buttermilk lemon pudding?

Susan George James


Chef and owner Brendan Cox noted that the lemon buttermilk pudding is the only dish that has been on the menu since Oakleaf opened 16 months ago. The 60-plus seat restaurant is located at Chatham Mills, a 1920s textile mill, which is also home to food co-op Chatham Marketplace and Starrlight Mead.

“It is the one dish that never left,” said Cox, noting that it is a favorite of his wife, Leslie, the restaurant’s general manager.

Brendan Cox explained that the sauce served with the pudding changes each season: strawberry or raspberry in the spring and early summer, blackberry in the late summer, cranberry ginger compote or blood orange marmalade in the winter. He shared the recipe for the pudding as well as for the blackberry and the cranberry sauces so home cooks can make it and enjoy it year round.

Oakleaf has made quite a splash since it opened in the spring of 2012. The restaurant earned a rare 41/2-star review from longtime News & Observer restaurant critic Greg Cox, who also named Oakleaf a co-winner of his annual restaurant of the year contest in January.

Noting that his restaurant’s location, Brendan Cox said he has been pleasantly surprised with local diners’ response: “People have been willing to make the drive.”

To see a printable recipe, click on the link below:

Oakleaf’s Lemon Buttermilk Pudding

Blackberry Sauce

Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Chef Brendan Cox of Oakleaf restaurant in Pittsboro says, “You can replace the lemon with blood oranges in the winter, and it’s wonderful.” 2 large eggs, separated Butter for ramekins 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the containers 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour Pinch sea salt 2/3 cup buttermilk, such as Homeland Creamery 2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice Finely chopped zest of 1 1/2 lemons, preferably Meyer Blackberry sauce

HEAT oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly sugar six 4-ounce ramekins, tapping out any excess sugar.

BEAT egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until they hold soft peaks. Scrap egg whites into another bowl and set aside. Wash bowl and whisk.

SIFT sugar with flour and salt. Set aside.

COMBINE buttermilk, lemon juice, egg yolks, and lemon zest in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment. Gradually add flour mixture, then switch to a spatula and gently fold in the egg whites. Divide batter among the prepared ramekins.

PLACE puddings in baking dish and pour warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking dish with a large sheet of aluminum foil.

BAKE until the puddings rise and the surface seems almost firm, about 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the tops are lightly golden and the puddings spring back when touched, about 15 minutes more.

DIP the base of the ramekin into hot water and invert onto a plate. Spoon blackberry sauce (recipe below) around the pudding.

Yield: 4 servings Blackberry Sauce From Chef Brendan Cox of Oakleaf restaurant in Pittsboro. In the winter, Cox makes a cranberry-ginger compote instead to serve with the lemon buttermilk pudding. Place 2 cups cranberries, 2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped ginger, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan and cook over medium low heat until softened and the sauce has a chutney-like consistency. 1 pint ripe blackberries 4 tablespoons sugar 1/4 cup sparkling wine Pinch of salt

PLACE berries, salt and sugar in a nonreactive bowl and gently crush with your hands. Let the berries sit overnight. Add the sparkling wine and gently stir.

Yield: about 11/2 cups

Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, The N&O, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; or email aweigl@newsobserver.com.

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