One of my absolute favourite films as a girl was Sabrina. The beauty of Audrey Hebpurn, the spirit of Paris, the ridiculous riches of the corporate world and most importantly the cooking lessons in France took my mind on journeys to unfamiliar and exciting worlds. To this day, I cannot crack eggs without hearing the teacher’s “One, two, three, crack! New egg!“. And above all, I have always wanted to try making soufflé and find out just how difficult it really is.
Seeing as we’re from Salzburg on my mum’s side of the family, it seemed to make sense to try not just any soufflé but the city’s signature dish, Salzburger Nockerl. It’s a fluggy, eggy soufflé, which is said to resemble the three mountains of Salzburg and can be served with custard or jam. In Austria (and Bavaria), these kinds of cooked desserts (or Mehlspeisen) are often served as a sweet main course, as it were, preceded only by some broth with small dumplings, noodles or pancake slices. Oh, how I loved these dinners as a child! However, I only remember one time my mum made Salzburger Nockerl. I think she wasn’t a fan of it herself, so we would usually get treated to other Mehlspeisen: dumplings accompanied by all kinds of fruit or jams or sweet Strudel filled with apple or curd. I think I’ll make a point of serving a Mehlspeise for dinner at least once a month when F. is old enough to eat with us.
I used the recipe from the beautiful old Southern German cookbook by Katharina Prato on which my family have relied for generations (Christmas in our house would be unthinkable without some of the incredibly good cookies from this book).
The two tricks I’ve heard about making soufflé are to whisk the eggwhite really well and never, ever to open the oven while the soufflé is in there. I adhered to these and also made sure the finished Nockerl were kept away from any draft. It’s also important that they be served straight away so as to keep them nice and fluffy.
We had some noodle soup tonight, followed by the Nockerl with a bit of cranberry jam that I’d lined the casserole dish with before pouring in some milk and then placing the egg mixture in it. My smallest dish was a bit too big for the amount of mix, unfortunately, so that I ended up with some Alpine foothills rather than proper “mountains” but this didn’t alter the taste.
The milk makes the base of the Nockerl go a bit custard-like, while the rest rises into a puffy, airy consistency that makes you feel like you’re eating sweet, eggy clouds. Mmmhhhhh. The cranberries gave the whole thing a fruity and slightly sour twang, which counter-balanced the sweet, rich egg flavour just perfectly. I’ll definitely be making this again soon! Although I do wish I could know what a French cookery teacher would have had to say about my first soufflé. I might just have to take a cooking class in France at some point. Can’t say I’d mind.