The best raspberries come at the end of the season, and are Scottish
As simple a sweet soufflé as you may ever make. You will need four porcelain ramekins of approximately 200ml capacity.
A generous squeeze of lemon juice
80g icing sugar, plus a little extra, sifted
2 eggs, separated
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 220˚C/gas mark 7.
Very generously grease the ramekins with butter, paying particular attention to the sides. Put a spoonful of caster sugar into the first ramekin and then move it around in your hands, so that all the buttery surfaces are well coated with the sugar.
As you reach the completion of this motion, upend the first ramekin over the second so allowing the surplus sugar to fall into it, together with a sharp tap of the fingers to the outside of the ramekin to remove any excess.
Continue in this fashion until all four ramekins are coated, topping up with more sugar as necessary. (Note: it is very important to not dislodge any of the sugar-coated butter inside the ramekins with stray fingers during this careful process, as this will affect the rise of the soufflé as it bakes.) Put the ramekins in the fridge.
Using a small food processor, purée the raspberries with only 40g of the given 80g of icing sugar, the separated egg yolks from the two eggs and the lemon juice, until very smooth. Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly scrape out every scrap into a roomy bowl, then put to one side.
In a large, preferably stainless-steel bowl, whisk together the six egg whites (two from the separated eggs, plus the given four whites) with a pinch of salt until frothy. Tip in the remaining 40g of icing sugar and continue whisking until soft and glossy, but not at all ‘stiff’.
If too over-beaten, the egg whites will exhaust some of their power to swell and rise the soufflé as it cooks.
Now, take a couple of spoonfuls of the egg whites and lazily whisk them into the raspberry mixture, just to slacken it a little. Then, very carefully, although thoroughly, fold in the remaining egg whites using a rubber spatula until all is a perfectly homogenous, pale-pink mass.
Remove the ramekins from the fridge and place on a flat baking tray. Spoon the mixture into them, filling them absolutely to the brim if not a little proud, in fact and then very lightly tap them to settle the mixture.
Using a palette knife, scrape the surface smooth so removing any excess, then deftly run a finger around the edge of each one, to the depth of a fingernail, so revealing a little raised centre; this will develop into a jaunty ‘hat’ once the soufflé is cooked.
Dust each one a with a light sprinkling of sifted icing sugar and bake for 12–15 minutes or until well risen and smelling simply divine!
Lemon-verbena ice cream and raspberries
I once attempted to make this ice cream using dried lemon-verbena leaves, but, quite simply, they didn’t have the zing of leaves freshly picked from a growing plant. Dried may be okay for some as an infusion, but not for this ice cream, please.
2 generous handfuls of lemon-
verbena leaves, torn up a bit
Quarter vanilla pod, split length ways
3 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
250ml double cream
Gently heat the milk, together with the verbena leaves and vanilla pod. As it comes to the boil, stir the mixture well to fully disperse the flavourings. Cover and leave to infuse for an hour or so.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Strain the verbena-infused milk through a fine sieve onto the egg yolks (discard the exhausted verbena leaves) and whisk together.
Pour the mixture into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over a very gentle heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon as if making custard.
When the mixture has slightly thickened do not let it boil pour it into a stainless-steel bowl (hot liquids cool quickest in metal) and stir in the cream.
Leave to cool completely, then chill the mixture. Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Scoop into chilled dishes and serve with as many raspberries as you see fit.
This article was first published in Country Life magazine on September 10 2014