This recipe is a slightly awkward size because it fits into a 1 1/2 quart (US) souffle dish. That is about 2 1/2 pints in the UK. I dare say it scales back OK, but after much fiddling this appears to be the best balance of all. Lots of lemon flavor. The zest contributes as much as the juice does. I use a microplane for the zest - it delivers terrific flavor at little effort.
5 or so lemons yielding 3/4 cup (6 fl oz.) strained juice
The zest of the above lemons. Note that it is better to zest the lemons before juicing them
1 1/2 packets (3/8 oz) unflavored gelatine - that's the inconvenient bit!
1 cup + 3T granulated sugar
1 1/2 C whole milk
a few grains (very small pinch) of fine salt
8 eggs separated and at room temperature. Use 8 whites and 3 yolks
1/2 t corn starch
1 1/3 c heavy (whipping) cream - chilled
Tips and Tricks
I like to make sure that there are no traces of grease on the whisking equipment before whisking the eggs. So I moisten a paper towel with a little cider vinegar and wipe the inside of the bowl and the whisk with the vinegar. It doesn't impart flavor, but it does a nice job of degreasing.
The egg whites should be room temp (not refrigerator temparture) for maximum foam.
When separating the eggs, you need 4 (yes 4!) bowls. Because traces of any fat cause the eggs not to become nice and foamy, you want to reduce the risk of egg yolk getting into the mixture. Calling the bowls 1-4, here's the procedure. Bowl 3 is the bowl in which the egg whites will be beatem
- Crack an egg (on a flat surface, preferably). Separate the white into bowl 1 and the yolk into bowl 2
- If the white is clear and uncontaminated transfer from bowl 1 to bowl 3.
- If not, discard the white from bowl 1, clean bowl 1 thoroughly and repeat from step 1.
- Repeat steps 1 - 3 for the next 2 eggs. You will have three whites in bowl 3 and three yolks in bowl 2
- Repeat steps 1-3 for the remaining eggs, but put the yolks in bowl 4. You will now have 8 egg whites in bowl 3, 3 yolks in bowl 2 and the other 5 yolks in bowl 4.
Prepare the souffle dish by making a foil collar standing about 2 inches (5cm) above the rim. Secure the collar to the dish with a little sticky tape,
Zest and juice the lemons keeping the juice and zest apart in non-plastic bowls. Sprinkle the gelatine on the juice and allow to rest while the next steps are happening.
Put 3/4 c of the sugar, all of the whole milk, and the salt in a pan and heat gradually, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot (steaming, but not boiling).
Whisk the egg yolks with the corn starch and 3T of the sugar until pale and thick.
When the milk is warmed, add slowly to the egg yolks whisking constantly. The cornstarch helps prevent the mixture from cooking the eggs.
Return the mixture to the pan (I rinsed the pan out, to ensure that any liquid adhering to the inside didn't burn). Put on low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened. Adjust the heat while doing this so it doesn't happen too quickly, but also doesn't drive you nuts waiting. Once the mixture has thickened, strain into a bowl, and immediately add the lemon juice/gelatine and the lemon zest. Whisk to incorporate the juice/gelatine into the custard. You need to work fairly quickly, to make sure you don't get lumps of gelatine.
Place the bowl of lemon custard into an ice/water bath (a larger bowl) and stir occasionally to chill thoroughly. Meanwhile whisk the egg whites (and they whisk better when slightly warmed) - first relatively slowly to make them foam, and then on high speed - adding the rest of the sugar slowly. They should be slightly stiff peaks. You do not want them dry. Take a couple of mounds of the egg white and stir into the lemon custard. Once incorporated, add the remaining egg whites in 3 additions. Fold each addition in carefully so as not to deflate the foam. Once all of the egg whites have been incorporated, whip the cold cream to soft peak consistency. Stir the cream (also in 3 additions) into the egg white/custard. Do this very gently also, so as not to deflate the foam. Make sure there are no white streaks left.
Spoon carefully into the souffle dish and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours - and up to about 4 or 5 hours.
When it comes time to serve, remove the foil collar gently - it feels like you are peeling it off. Do not try to lift it. The Bavarian will stand up above the edge of the dish, and look very impressive.
Garnish with some contrasting colors. I used purple and green basil flowering stalks laid in a pattern on top of the dish. This hides blemishes on the top surface.
On a previous occasion, I had made this dessert and used a simpler garnish - some candied lemon people (lemon peel cooked in sugar syrup for about 90 minutes) and a few rosemary tops. I am placing this photograph here, since the gannets dived into the one from this recipe before I could whip the camera out!