19 Jul 2010

Smooth Lemon Sorbet

Approx 8 servings
Preparation: approx. 10 mins
Cooking: Bring to the boil + 5 mins
Cooling: 1 hr
Freezing: 4 hrs minimum

And now for an exquisite dichotomy: lemon and sorbet. Lemons are Winter fruit, while sorbets are traditionally associated with Summer. Here is my revisited adaptation of one of my mum's old 1970s 'Femme d'Aujourd'hui' magazine recipes, where I am more generous with lemons, discard sugar for icing sugar and omit the food colouring (big in the day!). The cream and icing sugar counteract the acidity of the lemons into a fondant and create a smooth emulsion that will smoothe out any childhood preconceptions about lemons and watery sorbets!

As always, I am spoilt for the quality ingredients. Left on the trees to reach maturity at their own pace, organic Corsican lemons are courtesy of Philippe, our old family friend. Besides I used filtered water for the sorbet (purists amongst you might even elicit mineral water).
  • 1/4 litre water
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1/4 litre freshly squeezed lemon juice (corresponds to approx. 5 small lemons + 2 average-sized lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons whipped cream
Place a stainless steel sorbet/ ice cream mould in the freezer department. Pour the water and icing sugar in a pan and whisk together until the sugar has melted. Bring slowly to the boil, keeping an eye on the pan at all times, as the syrup must remain clear and not caramelise. From the first bubbles that rise to the surface, count 5-7 mins before taking the pan off the stove. A drop of syrup carefully placed on your finger with the tip of a fork must be sticky and well formed, and this will indicate the correct consistency.

Once the consitency reached, and the pan taken off the stove as a result of it, add the lemon juice. Quickly beat the cream with a fork before adding to the liquid. With an electric whisk, blitz the preparation to smoothe it; it will become very foamy (as per picture). Then leave to completely cool down (which could take at least a good hour), before pouring into the cold sorbet mould. Place in the freezer. The depth of the mould will dictate the speed at which the sorbet sets; the deeper the mould, the longer it will take. In my case, I used an 8.5 cm deep cubic mould.

Every couple of hours check the consistency and mash through with a fork to avoid the formation of crystals. Bear in mind that sorbet consistency is not as hard as ice cream. In my case, four-hour freezing time produced a soft consistency (especially once mashed through with the fork), perfect for scooping into cups.

However I chose to leave the sorbet overnight (i.e. for a total of 18 hours). In order to recreate the sorbet/ granité consistency, I scraped its surface repeatedly with a fork and scooped as such into cups. This is an elegant yet unassuming dessert, that needs no dressing, no presentations, no add-ons. It is thus best enjoyed au naturel. It provides a burst of freshness without the bitter after taste! Good clean fun indeed!

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