Lemon Soufflé

Baking a soufflé can be a stressful endeavor, but it can also be damn satisfying. Opening the oven to an airy, golden topped puff of flavour immediately makes up for the sometimes fiddly work required to prepare said soufflé.  They can be made savoury or sweet and with any combination of flavours.  If you’re into lemony desserts then this soufflé is definitely for you, not too sweet and just the right amount of tartness.  If you’ve never made a soufflé before then give this recipe a shot, follow the method precisely and you will have no troubles and you might even add another dinner party show stopper to the repertoire.

-alex

Souffle_13Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp melted butter, for greasing ramekins
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 4 free-range egg whites, 2 yolks
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar, plus 1/2 tbsp per ramekin
  • 3 tsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 90ml (31/4 l oz) pouring cream
  • 110ml (4fl oz) full-fat milk
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method:

Brush the insides of four 250ml ramekins with melted butter (this is the method I used, however smaller ramekins and making six may be a better option after a big meal, just cook for about 10 minutes instead of 14). Use a pastry brush, brush with upstrokes up the sides, as this will help the soufflé rise. Add sugar to each ramekin and shake around to coat all sides and base evenly, tipping out any extra.  Put sugar coated ramekins in fridge to cool.

Souffle_3Use a grater or microplane to zest the lemons into a bowl making sure to grate only the yellow and not the white pith below.  Cut the lemons in half and juice, adding to the zest for later.

SouffleSeparate the eggs, you will be left with two spare yolks, which can be made into something at a later date.  My fool proof method to separating eggs is to have three clean bowls, two small and one large. Crack the egg into your hand as below and allow the whites to drop through your fingers into one of the small bowls. Keep your fingers reasonably close together as you don’t want to break or have the yolk drop through.  Gently place the yolk into the other small bowl. Transfer the whites into the large bowl. Repeat by cracking another egg into your hand over the now empty small bowl allowing the white to fall through then adding the unbroken yolk to the the other yolk.

Souffle_1Separate your yolks so you are left with two for this recipe, save the other two in the fridge for another time.  Add 6 tbsp of caster sugar to the two egg yolks.  At this point you can preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and place your rack in the center of the oven.  Add the cream, flour and corn flour into a medium sized bowl and whisk to a smooth paste.

Souffle_2Warm the milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until beginning to boil then remove from heat.

Souffle_5Mix a little of the hot milk into the cream and flour mixture with a whisk. Break up any lumps and then add the remaining milk, whisking until smooth.

Souffle_4Pour mixture back into the saucepan and place over gentle heat.  Beat quickly with a whisk, not stopping at any time until mixture has thickened, this won’t take long.  When you feel it thickening, remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and zest a little at a time until all incorporated.

Souffle_6Using a wooden spoon, beat the egg yolk and sugar mixture to form a thick, smooth paste.

Souffle_7Add the sugar-yolk paste to the mixture in the saucepan and whisk until smooth.  Place the saucepan back over a low heat and whisk until it begins to bubble (almost boiling) and thicken slightly, then remove from the heat.  This should look like a thin custard, leave to cool before adding egg whites.  Beat your egg whites in a clean glass or metal bowl with a clean electric mixer or whisk. Ensure that there is no yolk in the whites as this will prevent the whites from fluffing up. Whisk until soft peaks form.

Souffle_8Ensure that your custard mixture is cool before folding in your egg whites. Dipping a clean finger in the mixture and it feeling no warmer than your body temperature will ensure great results.  Add a spoonful of your egg whites to the custard mixture.

Souffle_9Mix thoroughly to loosen the custard.

Souffle_10Add the remainder of the whites and fold gently into the mixture with a spatula. Moving around the outside of the saucepan and then cutting through the middle. Incorporating the egg whites well is important, but you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible too. The air in the whites is what makes it rise.

Souffle_11Pour the mixture into sugared ramekins right to the top. Level off with a knife or spatula and run the tip of your thumb, nail pointing towards the center of the ramekin around the inside to create a border.

Souffle_12Place the ramekins on a tray and into the center of the oven for 14 minutes (if using smaller ramekins, cook for a shorter time) or until well risen and golden on top. Do not open the oven during cooking as this can make the soufflé’s fall, peeking through the window of your oven helps if you have one.  Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately – they will fall over time.

Souffle_14Lemon Soufflé