Dutch or German, omelet-souffle epitomizes eggs

My latest column in the weekly food section isn’t full of hot air on the subject of soufflés.

Indeed, soufflés are decidedly doable for all their decadence. They really don’t take that much time or very many ingredients, just a light hand and some attention to detail.

Yet they hold even lifelong cooks at bay with their aura of the gourmet. My mom, for example, confessed that she’s never made one. Maybe it’s because the egg-dish mash-up that she does make on a regular basis is so satisfying.

An omelet soufflé — a “schaumomelett” — mixes the beaten egg yolks of a standard omelet with the whipped egg whites of a soufflé. When heated on the stove, this mixture cooks into a dish that is ethereally light and delicious. It has lemon zest in it for added flavor and a bit of sugar for sweetness.

In my family, this specialty of a restaurant my mom managed for nearly 30 years has been dubbed a “Dutch baby,” although it’s often widely known as a “German pancake.” Apparently, it’s good enough that more than one European country wants to claim it for its own. It also can be baked in the oven, where the sides rise up even higher above the pan’s edge, soufflé-style.

That’s the way they do it at the Pancake Mill restaurant in North Bend, where it’s served with my preferred fresh lemon wedges and a shaker of powdered sugar. Combine the two, and the pancake gains a sheen of sweet-tart icing over the slightly custardy center.

Even better, according to Daniel Neman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is a layer of jam or fruit spread, liberally applied to the eggy surface before it’s folded in half. Suddenly, he says, what was once an omelet becomes something more: a crepe, perhaps, with delusions of grandeur.

Tribune News Service photo

Omelet Soufflé

4 eggs

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Salt

Grated rind of 1 lemon

1/2 tablespoon butter

Fruit jam, sauce or preserves, for serving

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat egg yolks with the sugar, a dash of salt and the grated lemon rind. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold into yolk mixture.

Melt the butter in a 9-inch skillet over medium heat; add egg mixture. Cook slowly until bottom of omelet is golden-brown. You may cover pan until top of omelet is thoroughly cooked, or you may serve it with the top slightly runny, as with a regular French omelet. You may also turn it over if you want it browned on both sides.

Spread with the fruit sauce or preserves (apricot, strawberry or raspberry preserves are especially good with this). Fold in half and serve.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “The German Cookbook” by Mimi Sheraton.

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