This dramatic soufflé, the Austrian cousin to French iles flottantes (“floating islands”), is a fluffy concoction shaped into three peaked mounds—said to represent three of the mountains that surround Salzburg: the Mönchsberg, the Kapuzinerberg, and, depending on to whom you talk, the Rainberg or the Gaisberg—all resting atop cranberry jam. Like a floating island, or the “Ziggy Pig” that Napoleon eats in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the Salzburg is a spectacle—half of the fun happens when it appears at the table and onlookers’ mouths drop.
I was able to wrangle this recipe from the Bärenwirt Tavern, which is tucked away on a cobblestone street in Salzburg. Similar to Savoie Cake or a Kugelhopf, the feature that made this dessert a specialty in the Alps is the use of eggs, which was extravagant for a dish that predates advanced mountain transportation techniques.
Note: Vanilla sugar, a very common ingredient in European baking, can sometimes be found alongside superfine white sugar at specialty grocery stores. Or you can make your own by scraping and stirring the seeds from a vanilla bean into a jar of granulated sugar and letting it infuse for a few days. If you don’t have a few days, simply stir the seeds from one vanilla bean into the amount of superfine sugar you need for the recipe.
Alpine Cooking, by Meredith Erickson is out now
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 eggs, separated, plus 4 egg whites
1/2 cup (100g) superfine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 370°F (190°C). Generously grease the inside of an oval baking dish with the butter and then sprinkle evenly with the granulated sugar.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium speed, beat all the egg whites until foamy and starting to gain in volume, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high, gradually sprinkle in the superfine sugar, and continue to work air into the egg whites, until thick and glossy and doubled in volume, about another 3 minutes. Shortly before the end, sprinkle in the vanilla sugar and salt and incorporate.
Place all the egg yolks in a bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Gently whisk the yolks into the egg whites. Switching to a spatula, fold the flour into the egg mixture until just combined.
Spoon the cranberry jam into the prepared baking dish and spread to cover the bottom of the dish. Pour the milk evenly over the jam.
Using a flexible bench scraper, scoop out one-third of the egg mixture, shaping it into a dome, using the inside of the mixing bowl as your guide, then lay it inside one end of the baking dish. Repeat twice with the remaining two-thirds whipped egg, laying them in the center and the other end of the dish respectively. Use the scraper to adjust the shapes and make them look like three distinct peaks, making sure the egg mixture is towering but contained within the edges of the baking dish. Transfer onto a baking sheet.
Bake until the soufflé has puffed up and the surface is golden brown, about 9 minutes. Keep an eye on the oven; you don’t want the top to brown dramatically.
Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.
Meredith Erickson is the author of Alpine Cooking. She has co-authored The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, the Le Pigeon Cookbook, Olympia Provisions, Kristen Kish Cooking, the Claridge’s Cookbook, Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse, and The Frasca Cookbook, among others. She is the host of the upcoming Audible podcast, Field Guide to Canada. A contributor to publications including Monocle, The New York Times, Saveur and Food & Wine, Meredith splits her time between Montreal and Milan.