Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 12 2012

Reading through this recipe, I was initially perplexed as to how this could possibly be classified as a soufflé. Isn't a soufflé a stressful baked dish made light as air by folding in whipped egg whites and served immediately out of the oven before it deflates and everything is ruined? Apparently, that is only half true. According to a random internet dictionary, a soufflé can be defined as such:
soufflé [ˈsuːfleɪ]
1. a very light fluffy dish made with egg yolks and stiffly beaten egg whites combined with cheese, fish, etc.
2. a similar sweet or savoury cold dish, set with gelatine
While tonight's soufflés have no gelatine, they are fluffed with stiffly beaten egg whites and fall soundly in the category of a sweet cold dish. So fine, Delia, I accept that this is a soufflé.

I started this dessert days ago by simmering chopped apples in cider with lemon juice and sugar. Sorry dessert, you do not deserve "extra strong vintage cider" which costs a pretty penny. Instead, you get delicious, affordable Strongbow... yay! After cranking all the squishy apples through my food mill, I realize "shit, I spent all that time making fucking applesauce. I coulda just bought that!" It is tasty applesauce... but still! Now I get distracted and the applesauce goes in the fridge to be completed later. Maybe tomorrow?

food milling to remove skins and make my applesauce

fancy, time-consuming applesauce. yay.

Okay, almost a week later, I am back trying to accomplish this dish. Just need to stiffly beat some egg whites and gently fold it into the applesauce along with creme fraiche. I am getting comfortable with this "stiff-peak stage" so have no problem prepping my egg whites.

my egg whites are so stiff!

gently folding

Okay, I cannot get those damn collars to work. After folding everything in the overly-complicated fashion dictated by Delia, I abandon the whole damn thing after fussing with it for a stupid long time. Forget the damn collars! They are only there to make the presentation more impressive and "soufflé-like".

I hate you, collars!

My mix goes into the collar-less ramekins and into the freezer. They will be ready to go after 4 - 6 hours and will be topped with some quickly caramelized apple slices that can't be made until just before serving.

souffle mix poured into my naked ramekins

chill baby, chill.

Yet more delays and it's another few days before we dive into these guys. I admit to having major doubts and warned my loving hubby that these might be totally weird and he didn't have to eat his if he didn't want to. I just couldn't see how basically frozen applesauce would be that tasty.

Moment of truth: time to eat. I give the apple slices a minute in the hot butter/sugar mix and arrange them artfully on top. Looks nice... does it taste nice too?

frying apple slices in butter and sugar

golden and caramelised apple slices

A hesitant first bite turns into another bite and then another and before long, I've eaten half of my soufflé. It's actually really damn good! Sweet, but not too sweet. Creamy but without that mouth-coating richness of ice cream that I can't stand. Cold, crisp with a lovely texture. And the caramelised apples on top provide great contrast. I love it!


Serves 6

I first tasted this amazingly good dessert at a meal cooked by a friend, Lesley Nathan, in the summer, when she made it with strawberries. This is her recipe, adapted for winter with apples, and every bit as wonderful.

4 Granny Smith apples
12 fl oz extra strong vintage cider
Zest and juice 1 large lemon (4 tablespoons juice)
6 oz caster sugar
200 ml crème fraîche, very well chilled
4 egg whites
1 small 4 oz Cox's apple, unpeeled
1 oz butter
¾ oz caster sugar

You will also need 6 x 4 fl oz (110 ml) straight-sided ramekins, parchment for making collars and small rubber bands.


First wash the Granny Smith apples and, leaving the skins on, core and chop them roughly. After that place them in a saucepan with the cider, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar. Now bring it all up to the boil and simmer gently until the apples are mushy, which will take about 15-20 minutes. Then remove them from the heat and allow them to cool slightly before passing them through a fine nylon sieve, pushing the purée through with a ladle. Now discard the skins left in the sieve and leave the apple purée to get completely cold.

Meanwhile prepare the ramekins. First make collars for each of them: cut 6 pieces of parchment measuring 7 x 12 inches, fold each in half along its length to 3½ x 12 inches then fold one of the long edges over 1 inch, giving you a thicker piece at the base to stabilise the collar. You wil now have collars measuring 2½ x 12 inches. so wrap each collar around the ramekins, keeping the fold to the base and hold them in place with a rubber band.

When the purée is completely cold, remove the crème fraîche from the refrigerator, transfer it to a bowl and whip until it starts to thicken – but be careful not to let it get too stiff. Next put the egg whites in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-whisk with squeaky-clean beaters, whisk to the stiff-peak stage. Then fold a third of the egg whites into the apple purée along with the crème fraîche, and when everything is completely amalgamated, very gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour the whole lot into a large jug and then into the collared ramekins. The mixture will come right up to the top of the collars. Now stand the ramekins on a tray and freeze for 4-6 hours, making sure they are standing level.

To make the caramelised apple slices, cut the apple into quarters and remove the core, then cut these into slices 1/8 inch thick. You will need 30 thin slices. Next take a large, solid frying pan, 8-9 inches in diameter. Melt half the butter. When it starts to foam, sprinkle in half the sugar. Stir it around, keeping the heat high, add the apple slices and cook them 30-40 seconds on each side until golden brown and slightly crisp. You will need to do this in 2 batches. Lay the first lot on baking parchment, then add the remaining butter and sugar, if necessary, and cook the rest. These can be made up to 2 hours in advance. Take the ramekins out of the freezer and transfer to the fridge 20 minutes before serving. Then just peel away the collars, having removed the rubber bands. Finally arrange the apple slices in circles on top before serving.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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