“She’s attempting a souffle??!” they whispered among themselves.
“Does she have any idea what that means?”
As I stare at the recipe in hand, small beads of sweat form on my forehead. It was always the SLAM! of the kitchen door or loud shouts from children, that induced immediate anger or tears from the impatient, nail-biting woman, adorned in a cute apron, staring into the oven, tip-toeing around the kitchen, waiting for her souffle to rise on countless soaps and movies on t.v. when I was a child.
In fact, I have never personally known one soul, brave enough to attempt a souffle – which meant no one to ask for advice or to talk me down off the ledge! I was however, six months pregnant, legs beginning to swell enough to make long cooking endeavors uncomfortable, and a perfectly supportive husband cheering me along to attempt this feat if my (pregnant) heart so wished and desired it to be so!
I read and re-read the recipe, making note of each step and reading other souffle recipes before choosing a lemon souffle, and keeping in mind all the tips I have read throughout my research on Saveur, Food & Wine, and countless French Cooking Cookbooks and texts and went shopping for the ingredients.
Souffles have been notorious for being quite temperamental. If you don’t treat your souffle properly, respectfully – it will crash and burn. The very first step in executing a successful souffle is wrangling your emotions. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE SOUFFLE!
It’s all in your head! If you keep thinking it won’t turn out, or doubting yourself at every step, then your souffle will fail. You won’t succeed. Maintaining your confidence will start you on the road of success.
There are many souffles out there for you to pick from, a range of savory to sweet – the most popular of the savory being the cheese souffle, and the sweet being the chocolate. However, each souffle has two major components: the base and the levener. More often than not, your souffle will be leavened with whipped egg whites. If you’re using anything else, then you’re cheating on your souffle, like you’re having an affair (not with your spouse or significant other….).
When it comes to the egg whites, it has to be PERFECT. t This will take some practice, or a lot of practice for some. Under whipping will not give you enough lift and over-whipping will more than likely cause your souffle to deflate. You need to find the perfect balance.
Next up is to mix your levener with your base. Just as a runner or any athlete stretches to warm up their muscles for a race, you need to be equally gentle and gradual when folding your egg whites into the base for maximum performance! You spent all that energy and put all your love an attention into not over or under whipping your whites, so you want to take care not to collapse this perfect mountain of frothy whiteness by being overly aggressive or rushing it. But take note that with your first addition, your base might need to be tempered, so you can afford to be a bit aggressive. But relax your subsequent additions and use a gentle hands so as not to kill your souffle before it even gets to the oven.
Now that you have your souffle in the oven, let it be. The magic happens when it is allowed to sit, uninterrupted in the oven. Think of it as working up the courage to ask your high school crush to the prom, dont be unassertive – but being overly assertive can be detrimental. If you do feel like you need to check on your souffle however, then make it brief and DO NOT SLAM the oven door. Keep in mind that the smallest wisp of air can be enough to deflate your souffle. This beautiful work of art, that you just spent all that time and put sweat, blood and tears into. Just as the slightest wrong comment can derail your (impending *fingers crossed*) relationship!
Don’t forget to savor every luscious bite of your masterpiece! It is quite the feat, both emotionally and physically, to have accomplished and should be shared by (at the very least), the person closest to you.
Now. Has that got you all hot and bothered and filled with the sudden inspiration to rush out to the store, buy up eggs and lemon and hole up in your kitchen to try your hand at the lemon souffle?? Well. It should!
Ingredients: will make four 6-8oz ramekins, or two larger ramekins
- 1 egg
- 1 large lemon, zested & juiced
- 1/4 C powdered sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 egg whites
- 5 TBSP powdered sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 large lemon, zested & juiced
- 2 TBSP sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 175C.
Whisk the egg in a medium saucepan and mix in the zest and juice from one lemon, 1/4 C sugar and cornstarch. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Reduce the heat to low and continue whisking for one minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in butter. Divide lemon curd between four 6-8oz ramekins.
In a medium glass bowl (this is important, as it is a non-reactive substance, or use copper – but avoid plastic or metal mixing bowls; your eggs wont whip properly otherwise) whip egg whites with an electic mixer. When it is able to hold soft peaks, sprinkle one TBSP sugar and continue mixing until stiff.
Whisk remaining 4 TBSP of sugar into the egg yolks along with the zest and juice of second lemon. Fold a couple of spoonfuls of egg whites into the yolks to lighten them up (the point where you can afford to be aggressive) and then fold in the rest of the whites.
Spoon the mixture into the ramekins over the lemon curd and run finger/butter knife blade around the inside of each rim (this will help it to rise higher and more properly).
Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet and place in oven to bake for 15-17 mins or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool for five minutes before serving.
This day, I chose to add fresh raspberries from the market to adorn my souffles and pre-made a beautifully luscious, silky, tart and slightly sweet raspberry sauce to drizzle over each souffle.
7oz raspberries, 2/3 C water, 1/4 C sugar plus one tablespoon
In a small saucepot, place 5 1/4 oz raspberries, water and sugar and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and reduce by half. Turn off heat and cover for 30 mins. Mix in remaining raspberries with syrup and strain. Pour on your favorite dessert!