Mary’s Lemon Heaven (Souffle)

Give me strength its souffle day.   Don’t get me wrong I love a challenge and I love making things that are notoriously difficult or obscure.  My Mom and I made hundreds of homemade marshmallows as my wedding favours.  I made several batches of macarons until I finally got them right. But there is something about a souffle that seems beyond intimidating. Reading through the recipe didn’t exactly fill me with confidence either, 17 steps! However, I must preserve in the name of……science?……tradition?…….IN THE NAME OF MARY BERRY!

The I started out by prepping my ingredients as has become my practice and I was surprised by how imprecise everything was.  As I work through these bakes I am getting used to, and really enjoying the accuracy of weighing all my ingredients.  It makes me feel like there is less room for error.  Which is why I was surprised when the recipe called for heaping teaspoons and tablespoons of things.  I thought the souffle of all things would have to be hyper accurate.  What kind of heap are we talking about?  Because when eating ice cream or peanut butter I can really heap it on.  Nothing to do but try to find the average heap and move on.

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Next step was zesting and juicing the lemons.  This was a chance for me to bust out my all time favourite kitchen tool.  I have had multiple conversations with people about the merits of the microplane.  It is amazing!  Garlic, zest, parmasean you are no match for the seemingly perpetually sharp microplane.  Lemons, done.

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I measured everything else without much fan fair so onto the baking.  I had the dumb idea to do two technicals in one night while also making myself lunches for the rest of the week so I was multi-tasking like no body’s business.  In the midst of the chaos, I started to make the souffles.  I don’t know if it was because I was doing too many things at once or I was just distracted but I feel like everything happened very quickly.  I put the milk on and I swear it took seconds to come to a boil.  I mixed it into the cream mixture and it thickened immediately.  There was no time to waste.  Mixing the warm liquids with the egg yolks was stressfull and again this got thick fast!  And very thick!

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I should say that about every 30 seconds during this challenge I was convinced I had scrambled the eggs and I was going to have a sweet lemony breakfast.  I was supposed to leave the yolk, cream milk mixture on the “hob” until it bubbled but I was too nervous and with it as thick as it was I guessed the eggs had already cooked.  Now we chill.

Cool custard in hand I whipped my whites probably a little beyond soft peaks and began folding them into the lemon custard.  This is the one time where I think some of my baking experience actually helped me.  As I mentioned I have battled macarons on my own several times, with several failures.  I finally settled on the Italian method of making macarons where you fold the italian meringue into a very thick almond paste.  I think all my macaron folding taught me how to incorporate egg whites pretty effectively. Or it could all have been a fluke.  Either way, I folded as I would for macarons and got a really light mixture.  I put the mixture into the ramekins (I only had three…oops) and poped them all in the oven.

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I sat in front of the oven for the full fifteen minutes and watched intently.  My little souffle babies grew up right before my eyes.  I broke the rules and opened the door after 14 minutes then gently closed it again after seeing they weren’t golden on top.  After 15 minutes I didn’t care about them being golden and took them out.  They looked souflee like, and I hoped they didn’t taste like scrambled eggs.

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Oh, my god, they were delicious.  Seriously, probably the best dessert I’ve eaten in a while. The centre was like lemony silky heaven and the sides were a little more airy, like warm lemon mousse.  I added some warmed blueberries to the top and devoured my little souffle.  I haven no idea if they were technically correct because I don’t think I’ve ever had a souffle before but if those were wrong I don’t want to be right!  So, all in all, I think it could have gone wrong several times during the bake but Mary Berry must have been with me in spirit because I successfully made souffles.

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If only I could say the same for the other technical challenge I attempted last night…

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