I am writing about lots of hot air this month. That’s different from the hot steam that sometimes comes out of my ears and nose but rather the hot air that fills the wonderful, light-as-a-feather soufflé as it is removed from the oven.
Soufflé is one of those dishes that many people are fearful to prepare, having heard stories of mortifying disasters. This notion of difficulty and disasters is wrong. I, for example find it is much easier to cook a hot soufflé than to poach an egg. Soufflés are really simple to prepare but not a dish that one can make in advance. There may be some preparation you can do to get ahead, but the final baking is last minute, which if you are entertaining, does make it all rather public.
There is confusion as to what is a soufflé and what is a mousse. There is little difference, although generally a mousse is cold – I can’t think of many baked mousse dishes. But not all soufflés are hot. They do use many of the same ingredients, although a cold version may rely on gelatine to set it and may use cream as a main ingredient, whereas a savoury cheese soufflé, for example, would use a roux for the body of the dish into which egg yolks are mixed, followed by the folding of whipped egg whites. Anyway – whether a mousse or a soufflé, they all need lots of light-as-a-feather whipped egg whites to keep them airy. My mother used to make a cold lemon soufflé for special occasions. I remember peeping at them at the back of our tall 1960s’ cream refrigerator. There would be a high collar of paper around the straight-sided soufflé dish, tied with string. It would be served with chopped nuts pressed into the sides and decorated with piped cream and crystallized angelica. It was such a treat. My sister and I would fight over the tangy jelly at the bottom. I realize now, decades later, that the jelly should not have been there, as the mix had clearly not been mixed very well, but our Mother pulled it off as being intentional.
I have adapted a baked soufflé recipe of Delia’s that claims never to collapse or explode. I endorse this claim and whilst they will shrink slightly as they come out of the oven they remain light and soufflé -ike 15 minutes later. The passion fruit curd adds a lovely zing to the dish and rounds the whole thing off into one of my favourite, foolproof pudding recipes to date. Perfect for Sunday Lunch or as an Easter treat, served with pouring cream or vanilla ice cream. aif
Hot Passion Fruit Curd Soufflés (foolproof)
Approx. £4.20 when all ingredients bought at Ludwell Stores.
60g golden caster sugar
1 lemon – zested and then juiced (you will need 2 tbs juice)
4 tbs Mrs Darlington’s Passion Fruit Curd (orange or lemon curd is also available in Ludwell Stores). Naturally, you could easily make your own!
Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 3 (AGA roasting oven, bottom shelf with cooling shelf above)
1. Prepare four ramekins, approx. 5 cm deep and 7.5 cm in diameter by lightly buttering the sides.
2. Spoon a large dollop of passion fruit curd into the bottom of each ramekin being careful not to dribble it down the sides.
3. Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a medium-sized bowl and the whites into a spanking-clean larger one.
4. Using an electric hand whisk, whisk the whites to the stiff-peak stage, which will take 4–5 minutes, starting on a slow speed, gradually increasing to medium and then high.
5. Sprinkle 10g (large tablespoon) of caster sugar to the whites and whisk on a high speed for 30 seconds more. Put aside.
6. Next, add the zest and lemon juice and the remaining 50g of sugar to the yolks and mix them together briefly.
7. Take a tablespoon of the whites and fold them into the yolks to loosen the mixture, then fold the rest of the whites in, using a light cutting and folding movement, so as not to lose the precious air.
8. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, piling it high like a pyramid, then run a finger around the inside rim of each one. (This will help the rise).
9. Place the ramekins on a solid baking sheet and place in the oven on the centre shelf (not AGA ovens – see above) for 15–17 minutes or until the tops are golden.
10. Remove from the oven and allow them to settle for 5 minutes and for the curd to cool a little.
11. They will sink slightly – don’t panic, this is normal. Just before serving, place them on a small plate and dust lightly with icing sugar.
12. Serve with pouring cream or vanilla ice-cream.
Simply the ‘zest’
A truly, truly scrumptious and impressive dessert – perfect at Easter time.
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.