Posted by: njbrown | June 13, 2012

Julia’s Famous Strawberry Soufflé (Version XXIX)


Julia’s Famous Strawberry Soufflé (Version XXIX)

For some years, I have read about Julia’s tenacity in pursuing the very best version of a recipe, and her 29 tries at strawberry soufflé were often mentioned. Having recently made Geoffrey Zakarian’s flourless raspberry soufflé, I decided to make Julia’s strawberry one to compare the two. None of my cookbooks went as far as number XXIX. The Web only produced two recipes – exactly the same. However, the one in the Gazette in Colorado Springs by Teresa Farney gave background information, and her experience with making it. No pictures are available.

Julia’s Famous Strawberry Soufflé (Version XXIX)

Unfortunately, once I got into the recipe, the quantities made no sense to me. Three pints of fresh strawberries (6 cups) are called for, but you are only told to use 2 ½ cups. You are directed to use a 2 ½ qt. soufflé dish, but the soufflé mixture would have only filled it about half-way, and this soufflé doesn’t rise in the usual way. Even my 2 qt. soufflé dish was too large. Using the amount of sugar called for made an exceedingly sweet soufflé. All in all, I think something got changed on the way from Julia to the Web. On the bright side, a few alterations make a very delicious strawberry soufflé with a lovely texture, and one that I think is far superior to Geoffrey’s. Below I have given both the Web version from Teresa Farney’s article, and then the one with my tweaking.

Note – June 22, 2012:  I just received an answer from my e-mail to Teresa Farney asking about the amount of strawberries.  Here is her reply:  There’s a note on the recipe that the extra strawberries are used for a sauce – that we didn’t include in the recipe that was printed. Unfortunately, Teresa didn’t include any information on making the sauce.

ON FOOD: Film revives Julia Child nostalgia
August 26, 2009 1:41 PM
Teresa Farney
THE GAZETTE

Since the opening of the movie “Julie & Julia,” foodies have been reminiscing about Julia Child’s cookbooks, television shows and personal encounters.

The movie made me remember 1979, when I first met Julia and Paul Child in Denver. They were there to conduct a three-day cooking demonstration as a fundraiser for the Denver Art Museum. Having been a faithful fan of Julia’s television show, following the recipes in her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbooks, making notes as she did her program, I was determined to attend her Denver live performance.

At the time I was a teacher at Air Academy High School; fortunately, the principal there was a fan of Julia, too, and let me have the time off.

It was thrilling to be in the audience and even more thrilling to stand in line to have she and Paul sign my two volumes of “Mastering.” I still have “A Culinary Collection: Julia Child at the Denver Art Museum,” that contains all the recipes she demonstrated. Though I cooked from the booklet often, the recipe that became my go-to for dinner parties was Fresh Strawberry Soufflé XXIX. The note at the top of its page says, “This is a different and improved recipe for the strawberry soufflé in our television series.”

There follows a long explanation of soufflé making and testing. A fresh strawberry soufflé was “too fragile, too collapsible,” writes Julia, “and I determined to find out another way to go about it.”

The last recipe that Julia tested and perfected was version XXIX, with the solution being: “Cook the drained, sliced berries in the sugar syrup for a moment, drain them a final time, reboil those juices and fold the strawberries in, letting them cool and thicken in the syrup before combining them with the egg whites.”

The recipe, below, is a winner. I make the strawberry mixture in the morning of the dinner party. Egg whites are separated in the mixing bowl a couple of hours before guests arrive. The soufflé dish is buttered and sugared ahead. As the entrée is being served, I heat the oven to 425 degrees. As entrée dishes are being cleared, I beat the egg whites and fold in the berry mixture. The soufflé makes a spectacular presentation. I serve it with Champagne, as suggested by Julia.

Fresh Strawberry Soufflé XXIX
Yield: 6 servings

  • ½ tablespoon soft butter
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar, divided
  • 3 pints fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 egg whites placed in clean, dry beating bowl
  • Small pinch salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place rack on lower third of oven. Smear 2 1/2-quart soufflé baking dish with butter; roll 2 tablespoons sugar around in it to coat bottom and sides. Shake out excess.
  2. Hull and wash strawberries, slice them rather roughly, and toss in large bowl with 1/3 cup sugar and vinegar. Let stand half-hour, so juices will exude. Drain in colander set over a bowl; reserve juice.
  3. Place 2/3 cup sugar in heavy-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan. Pour 1/4 cup juices drained from berries into pan. Set over high heat and, swirling pan by handle, bring just to boil. Remove from heat, swirling, until sugar is completely dissolved, then return over high heat. Cover pan and boil 1 minute or so, until bubbles thicken and sugar is at the soft boil stage.
  4. Fold 2 1/2 cups of drained, sliced strawberries into hot syrup and bring to boil, folding, 1 minute. Drain strawberries through a sieve set over a bowl; reserve juices. Return juices in bowl to saucepan and boil down rapidly until thickened; add any juices that have accumulated in bowl as you boil. Fold strawberries again into syrup, add grated lemon rind, and set aside for a few minutes to thicken as the syrup cools.
  5. Beat egg whites slowly until foamy; beat in salt and cream of tartar, and gradually increase speed to fast until egg whites form stiff, shining peaks. Sprinkle in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat a few seconds more to stiffen them further. Immediately scrape strawberry mixture into one side of the egg whites and rapidly but delicately fold them together.
  6. Turn mixture into prepared baking dish, either smoothing the top with a spatula or leaving it in its rather rough state — which I prefer — and place in oven. Bake 10-12 minutes, until a skewer inserted into side of the puff comes out almost clean. Serve at once.

Fresh Strawberry Soufflé XXIX (Revised by Nancy)
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • ½ tablespoon soft butter
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar, divided
  • 3 pints fresh strawberries (It took 3 pints to exude ¼ cup juice, but the recipe doesn’t say how to use the remaining 3 ½ cups. Garnish possibly, or later use in a fruit salad?)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 egg whites placed in clean, dry beating bowl
  • Small pinch salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Place rack on lower third of oven.
  3. Smear  1 ½ qt. soufflé baking dish with butter; roll 2 tablespoons sugar around in it to coat bottom and sides. Shake out excess.
  4. Hull and wash strawberries, slice them rather roughly, and toss in large bowl with ⅓ cup sugar and vinegar.
  5. Let stand half-hour, so juices will exude. Drain in colander set over a bowl; reserve juice.
  6. Place ⅓ cup sugar in heavy-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan.
  7. Pour ¼ cup juices drained from berries into pan. Set over high heat and, swirling pan by handle, bring just to boil.
  8. Remove from heat, swirling, until sugar is completely dissolved, then return over high heat. Cover pan and boil 1 minute or so, until bubbles thicken and sugar is at the soft boil stage.
  9. Fold 2 ½ cups of drained, sliced strawberries into hot syrup and bring to boil, folding, 1 minute.
  10. Drain strawberries through a sieve set over a bowl; reserve juices.
  11. Return juices in bowl to saucepan and boil down rapidly until thickened; add any juices that have accumulated in bowl as you boil.
  12. Fold strawberries again into syrup, add grated lemon rind, and set aside for a few minutes to thicken as the syrup cools. (See note below)
  13. Beat egg whites slowly until foamy; beat in salt and cream of tartar, and gradually increase speed to fast until egg whites form stiff, shining peaks.
  14. Sprinkle in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat a few seconds more to stiffen them further. Immediately scrape strawberry mixture into one side of the egg whites and rapidly but delicately fold them together.
  15. Turn mixture into prepared baking dish, either smoothing the top with a spatula or leaving it in its rather rough state — which I prefer — and place in oven. (I recommend immediately lowering the temperature to 400° – Nancy.)
  16. Bake 10-12 minutes, until a skewer inserted into side of the puff comes out almost clean. Serve at once.

Optional strawberry sauce (coulis) taken from Julia’s other books:

In food processor or blender, puree remaining 3 1/2 cups of sliced strawberries with approximately 2 T. of lemon juice and sugar to taste.  Put puree through sieve to remove seeds.

Note: If you refrigerate the strawberry mixture after making it ahead, bring it to room temperature before adding to the egg whites. Nancy

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Responses

  1. This sounds interesting, do you taste the vinegar or is it used to break down the berries? Great photo!

    • Hi Jane –

      You don’t taste the vinegar at all – just a lovely strawberry flavor.

      Thank you!


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