Tuesday 13 August 2013

Cold Lemon Souffle

If you are from the forces background there is a slim chance that you have missed having eaten the lemon soufflé. Dinners in the army mess usually being a grand affair, this elegant dessert was considered a befitting finale to a great evening. The only problem was that somehow I never took a liking for this ever-so-popular much-awaited-for after dinner 'pudding'. 
I just haven't ever tasted the perfect lemon souffle at our wonderful messes - sometimes it was the horrendous bright yellow color of the souffle (resultant of the cooks being over enthusiastic in adding the color) which used to totally put me off, sometimes it was the strong eggy after taste and also sometimes (which was pretty often) the extra generosity that the cooks showed in sweetening the dessert, which somehow managed to kill whatever little taste and interest I had in this wonderfully popular dish and this opinion of mine has maintained till date.
Maybe that is one of the main reason, why inspite of this dessert being so simple to make and sought after at my home (lemon souffle being a favorite of my husband), I never got the inspiration or the inclination to try my hands at making it. But then, the fact is, also because I had never attempted to make it, it has always being on my 'to-do' list, amongst a 100 other dishes, which I have to try out atleast once in my lifetime. 
The perfect opportunity landed on my lap when my mom threw a dinner last week and I volunteered to make the dessert. With my in-laws and parents staying close-by  in the vicinity, it is usually a ritual, where we all get together and meet once in a week or two in circulation at one of our homes. Similarly, all our birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated together giving us all an excuse to enjoy each others company.
As my in-laws are leaving for UK next week for a month to visit my sis-in-law, my mom invited all of us over at her place. A hot favorite with everyone, I zoomed in on making the lemon souffle for dessert and also in the process find out if I could do a better job than all those those mess cooks, at making my taste buds reverse their opinion about this great classic dessert.
Searching the net, I landed on this recipe for lemon souffle (sorry, I have forgotten which site it was) which seemed perfect to me. Not only did it seem interesting but it also had a very different method which I hadn't heard of before. The first thing was the gelatin used here was almost half the amount of what I had being using to set my desserts. Infact while making the dessert, I was almost tempted to tip in some extra gelatin but literally had to stop myself. Another technique which interested me was that it needed to make a sugar syrup (almost like our indian chashini) and then add the hot syrup to to the whipped egg whites - this was unusual and actually intrigued me to try out the recipe. Reading the method, I wasn't very sure how it would turn out in the end but was really interested and all set to find out!!
Totally unexpected (seriously), the dessert was perfect. Beautiful glistening light lemon in color, thankfully it did not have an eggy after taste. With the right balance of tart and sweetness, I admit, it did not make me  a convert and totally change my opinion and fall in love with it, but certainly it was much more appealing and acceptable than all those lemon souffles I had been exposed to years back.
If you too are a lemon souffle fan, this is one spectacular dessert you must try your hands at.
10 g powdered gelatin
4 large lemons
4 eggs and 2 egg whites (I used 6 whole eggs)
250g caster sugar
250 ml double cream
Grated pistachios and lemon zest for decoration.
Prepare the soufflé dish - cut a piece of foil, 5 cm longer than the circumference of a 1 ltr soufflé dish. Fold the foil length ways in half. Wrap the foil around the dish. It should stand well above the rim, so the soufflé will appear to have “risen”. Secure the ends with tape.
Make the soufflé base
Put 75 ml water in a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin on top and set it aside for 5 minutes, to soften until spongy. Make sure every crystal is soaked in water, or there will be crystals in the final soufflé.
Grate the zest from 3 of the lemons. Squeeze the juice from all 4 lemons – there should be 150 ml juice. 
Separate the whole eggs in a saucepan. 
Mix together the egg yolks, grated lemon zest, lemon juice and two thirds of the sugar till well blended. Cook stirring just until the mixture boils. 
Pour into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 5-7 minutes, until light and thick enough to leave a ‘ribbon’ trail when the whisk is lifted.
Warm the gelatin over low heat shaking the pan for 1-2 minutes, 
until the gelatin is melted and is pourable; do not stir, or you risk inhibiting the setting qualities of the gelatin. 
Whisk into the lemon mixture and continue whisking until cool.
Finish and chill the soufflé:-
Pour the cream into a bowl and whip until soft peaks form; chill. 
Heat the remaining sugar with 125 ml water until dissolved. 
Boil without stirring until it reaches the hard boil stage. (to test, remove a tsp of syrup. Take it between finger and thumb , it should form a firm pliable ball. – or it should register 120C on a sugar thermometer.
While the syrup is boiling, put the 6 egg whites in a bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gradually pour the hot syrup into the egg whites, whisking constantly.
Continue whisking for 5 minutes until the meringue is cool and stiff. 
Set the bowl of lemon mixture in a larger bowl and stir the mixture gently until it starts to thicken. Remove the bowl from the ice bath. 
Gently fold in the chilled whipped cream, then fold in the meringue in two batches.
Pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared dish, it should come at least 5 cm above the rim of the dish, but below the edge of the collar.
Chill the soufflé for atleat 2 hours, until firmly set.
Serve decorated with strips of lemon and candied lemon and sprinkle some grated pistachios for added texture.


  1. Hi there. I came across your blog on Strawberry Cream Roll and also noticed you and your hubby used to travel to Mahabaleswar on Kinetic Honda. Very nice, me and my hubbie are also planning to explore Mahabaleswar on our Kinetic from Pune. Was wondering if the ghat roads were safe to ride as I will also be riding in parts.
    Did you guys used to switch off the engine downhill on slopes on your way back? Need some tips, regards, Kusum

    1. Hi Kusum! This was about 17 years back. I really can't say what the road conditions would be like now? Why don't u inquire from the locals out there- maybe they will be able to give u a correct picture. I am sure it will be great fun- enjoy.