What do you do when you can’t get it up?
This is a tough topic, but I want to start by saying it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It happens to everyone and unfortunately once it goes down there’s usually little you can do it save it.
You can eat it anyway and it’ll still be good in it’s own way, but it won’t be foodgasmic. All the ingredients are there, but it’s just not the same. Sometimes the best thing to do is give up for the moment and come at it again later, with a clear head and fresh slate.
I think it’s mostly mental. If you’re worried about it happening, it’s going to happen. It can smell fear.
Getting a soufflé up is serious business, and keeping it up well that’s a challenge of its own. Sometimes you think you have it. It’s nice and fluffy and high when you open those oven doors and you feel confident as you gently slide inside, grip its edges and begin to pull it out, then suddenly it begins to sink. It’s already too late, and you feel your heart thud against the pit of your stomach.
Once it’s happened, once it’s in your head, it’s hard to shake. Every time you go to try it again that memory will haunt you, and it’s over before it even started. I’ve been there, trying day in and day out, whipping those egg whites to stiff, hard beautiful peaks that seem uncrushable, only to be met with disappointment. I’ve thought: maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this, maybe we just weren’t meant to be.
Don’t give up, it takes time and it’s bound to happen every once in awhile. Even the best of us struggle with perfectly airy soufflés, but when you get it right, it’s so fucking worth it!
The most crucial element of a high and proud Soufflé is the base. You have to work the base. Give those egg whites the attention they deserve and find that perfect spot between too soft and over-whipped.
Once you have them standing at attention, the next piece is speed. You’ve got to act fast before it has a chance to fall. Once you get these 2 components down, it’s really quite a breeze and you can get all sorts of freaky with it. Find your style with any number of sweet or savory combinations: classic chocolate, an upbeat lemon or decadent cheese.
Let your imagination run wild.
Here’s a citrusy delight that’s pretty good at getting erect.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more, room temperature, for dishes
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dishes
- 8 large egg yolks plus 10 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons), plus 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 cup whole milk
- Garnish: confectioners' sugar
- Get hot- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter soufflé dishes, and then dust with granulated sugar. Whisk together yolks, flour, zest, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
- Simmer Down- Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Slowly pour milk into yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent yolks from cooking. Return mixture to pan, and whisk until thick like a pudding, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Push it- Strain through a sieve, and whisk in butter and lemon juice.
- Get stiff-Beat whites until egg whites are foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and beat to stiff peaks.
- Back and Forth- Stir a third of the whites into the yolk mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whites using a rubber spatula.
- Fill up- Fill each dish to the top, and smooth.
- Slide in- Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until soufflés rise and are golden, about 16 minutes.
- Pull out- Garnish with sugar, and serve immediately, before soufflés lose their height.