My daughter and I were watching an old episode of Chopped All-stars, where both Aaron Sanchezand and Geoffrey Zakarian were dueling in the battle of soufflés for the final desert round. It dawned on me, that I don’t remember the last time I made a soufflé. It is just not one of my “go to” dishes, savory or sweet, due to the fact that it has to be prepared while you are eating dinner and served immediately. But I love soufflés, I miss them, it is like eating clouds (at least it is the way it should be). And soufflés are not something to be afraid of, if a few basic rules are followed, they will always come out perfectly puffed, will not fall and are not hard to make. And you can vary your ingredients and spices in thousands of ways, making this a very versatile dish. Cheese soufflés for example can be the most decadent thing you ever eat.
As we were about to start cooking a simple Sunday supper and I had all ingredients on hand, I decided to teach my daughter how to make a soufflé. She begged for chocolate of course, but after a long debate we settled on a good, old fashioned, lemon soufflé. I like my soufflé “eggy”, preferably made with duck eggs ( these are richer and smoother than chicken eggs), but the duck eggs in my fridge were already reserved for making pasta, so I went with plain old chicken eggs.
Soufflés came out beautiful, tall and puffy, with a hint of lemons and angel like softness and richness from the yolks.
Next time you are not in a rush and would like to impress someone with “It must be so hard to make!” desert, go for a soufflé… It works as comfort food as well.
Makes 4 soufflés
6 egg yolks.
9 egg whites
8 tbs plus 3 more of sugar
2 tbs of melted butter, cooled
2/3 cup of crème fresh
3 tbs of cake flour
Zest of 3 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp of lemon extract
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 tbs of butter and castor sugar for the ramekins
A few basic soufflé making rules:
- Most soufflés are baked at 375F
- If baking individual soufflés they take 22 minutes ( just like a risotto)
- You should preheat a baking sheet which the ramekins will go on with the oven, this way, your soufflé gets a decent amount of heat from the bottom right away.
- You should bake on the middle rack and there should be no other oven racks above your soufflés or they will not rise properly.
- You can make the base ahead of time, but the whites must be incorporated right before you bake.
- Don’t take your soufflé out of the oven right away. Turn the oven off and let them cool for 3-5 minutes before taking them out.
- If your soufflé doesn’t rise or falls (which shouldn’t happen if you follow the rules), just call it pudding and go on with your life… it will still be delicious.
Preheat the oven to 375F with a baking sheet inside. Prepare the ramekins by buttering them (not too thick) and dusting the insides with castor sugar ( you can use regular granulated sugar as well). Make the base. Whip egg yolks with 8 tbs of sugar until pale yellow and ribbons appear on the surface. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and lemon extract. Next stir in the melted butter and crème fresh. Sift the flour and gently stir it in, the mixture should be the consistency of smooth pancake batter, slightly runny is ok.
Whip the egg whites until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks appear. Add the 3 tbs of sugar slowly, one at a time and continue beating until the peaks are firm and hold their shape.
Take half of the egg whites and fold them gently with a spatula into the base. You want to work from the outside of the bowl, folding from the bottom. Do not stir, or you will deflate the batter.
Fill your ramekins with the soufflé batter about 2/3. Top each ramekin with a “hat” using the rest of the egg whites. Smooth out the tops with a spatula.
Bake for 22 minutes, until the soufflés have risen and the tops are golden brown. Do not open the oven while baking, patience is a virtue. Turn off the oven and let cool inside without opening the oven door for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
I imagine this is what angels eat! Pure clouds!