Created in the 17th century by Salome Alt, the mistress of the archbishop of Salzburg, this Austrian Baked Vanilla Soufflé (Salzburger Nockerln) is formed into three mounds (nockerln) to look like the three hills that surround the city (Mönchsberg, Kapuzinerberg, and Gaisberg).
This soufflé has been a mainstay of Austrian cuisine and, when you taste it, you will know why it remains popular.
Many variations of this classic dessert abound, but a few secrets (see the Note, below) help ensure a successful outcome, meaning you can get this soufflé to the table and serve it before it falls. It also tastes very good!
How to make Salzburger Nockerl - Slideshow from Salzburg.
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 4 egg whites (room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 dash salt
- 1/2 cup/50 grams confectioners' sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons/20 grams cake flour
- Garnish: confectioners' sugar for decoration
Note: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. It is important to heat quite long because the oven's mass will help stabilize the temperature when you open the door. This makes a better environment for a soufflé. Soufflés also like heat rising from the bottom, so if you have a choice, heat with the lower element.
Make the Soufflé
- Pour the cream into a 9x6-inch or 11x7-inch oven-safe dish. Add the vanilla sugar and lemon zest. Stir a bit with a fork so everything is evenly distributed. Put it someplace that will warm the cream a little. You can put it in the heating oven for a few minutes, but take it out after a few minutes, before it boils or burns.
- Place the egg whites in a very clean mixing bowl. Start mixing them on medium speed. As soon as they show a little foam, sprinkle the cream of tartar and dash salt over them and keep mixing.
- When they form soft peaks, but still look a little gray, sprinkle the confectioners' sugar over them slowly and keep beating until they are stiff and glossy.
- In a separate small bowl, take 2 or 3 tablespoons of the meringue and mix it with the egg yolks and vanilla. This loosens the egg yolks and makes them easier to fold into the rest of the meringue.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture down the side of the bowl with the meringue. Sift the cake flour on top.
- Fold the meringue into these ingredients until a homogeneous, fluffy, light-yellow batter is formed.
- Scoop the batter into the pan with the whipping cream. Working quickly, form three peaks with a spatula for the traditional shape. Make the troughs between the peaks as deep as you can, because it does run together a bit in the oven.
- Place it quickly in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not bake longer because it can fall and become dry. It is perfect when it is very moist on the inside and golden brown on the outside.
- Remove gently from oven, sprinkle a little confectioners' sugar over the peaks and present the whole dessert to the table at once.
- To serve, portion out with two spoons (like serving salad) and scoop a little of the cream around the edges of your guest's plate. You may also want to serve this with fruit sauce or fresh fruit.