From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'm not sure I really enjoy soufflés, but I do know that those who love to cook aren't considered skilled until they can make one. The soufflé was a very popular dessert in the 70's and 80's, and most folks, cooking at that time, mastered the art of whisk and collar and can put a soufflé on the table when they have to. There are several ways to make them. They are usually prepared with with a base of white sauce, custard or fruit puree to which egg whites and flavorings are added. I came across this recipe several years ago and have held on to it because it makes a perfect soufflé every time, if you follow instructions. The recipe was developed for Cook's Illustrated magazine and it is in their book, The Best Skillet Recipes, which can be found here. It's a great, but unconventional recipe, and to get the correct texture and volume, it's really important to use the 10-inch skillet called for in the instructions. As you scan the recipe, you'll see that its base is much lighter than that of a standard soufflé. That makes the use cream of tartar necessary. Cream of tartar is an odorless powder that is a byproduct of wine making. It's used to stabilize and add volume to beaten egg whites. It helps eggs retain their volume once they're beaten and that is very important in this recipe. The bad news is there is no really good substitute for cream of tartar, the good news is that it's readily available and can be found in the spice aisle of your grocery store. It's important not to open the oven door for the first 7 minutes the soufflé is in the oven. This deflates quickly, so it should be served as soon as it is finished. This version of the soufflé lacks the towering height and beauty of those that are classically prepared, but its flavor is sublime and will make lemon lovers weep. Really! I suggest you watch this video before you begin to make the souffle. Here's the recipe.
Lemon Soufflé Recipe...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cook's Illustrated
5 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup juice from 2 to 3 lemons
1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1) Adjust a rack to middle of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Slowly add 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar and salt, then increase mixer speed to medium-high, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Gently transfer the whites to a clean bowl and set aside.
3) Using an electric mixer (no need to wash the mixing bowl), whip yolks and remaining 1/3 cup sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 1 minute. Whip in lemon juice, zest, and flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
4) Fold one-quarter of whipped egg whites into yolk mixture until almost no white streaks remain. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until just incorporated.
5) Melt butter in a 10-inch ovenproof (not nonstick) skillet over medium-low heat. Swirl pan to coat it evenly with melted butter, then gently scrape lemon souffle batter into skillet and cook over medium-low heat until edges begin to set and bubble slightly, about 2 minutes.
6) Transfer skillet to oven and bake souffle until it's puffed, center jiggles slightly when shaken, and surface is golden, 7 to 11 minutes. Using a potholder (the skillet handle will be hot), remove skillet from oven. Dust soufflé with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.
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