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The revival of souffléd lemon custard

The building of the use-to-be New French Cafe still remains vacant in the Warehouse District in Minneapolis

1977 was a time of change for Minnesota; Rudy Perpich became Minnesota governor after Wendell Anderson resigned, the Vikings played in their third Super Bowl appearance, Elvis died, The Thunderbird was downsized and Roots aired as a mini series on television.

The streets surrounding Minneapolis were also changing; The Leamington Hotel was the exquisite choice for all visitors to the cities, the North Stars were paving the way to the end of a Minnesota hockey era, the Nicollet Mall was transforming into the world’s largest bus stop, the Mary Tyler Moore Show was pulled off the air and the desolate and bare boned buildings lining the streets of the Warehouse District were beginning to rise up out of the shadows of the surrounding industrial buildings.

The opening of the New French Café created a fresh, different scene for Minneapolis diners during the late 1970s. Out of the floorboards sprung a restaurant with groove for locals to delve into.

The New French Café’s contemporary and experimental French cooking allowed for regulars to visit such a simple business with such a large variety, while meandering around the city. They offered a trifling, but relatively changing menu, including a decadent souffléd lemon custard.

Today, the streets of the Warehouse District are not filled with aromatic French cuisine that the New French Café offered passerbyers.

The small French bistro closed its doors in 2002 due to the change in scenery for Minneapolis. The building remains vacant, but the craving of their famous souffléd lemon custard still occupies a distant memory of the simpler times in Minnesota history.

The New French Cafe's Souffléd Lemon Custard

Serves 6

1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 cup lemon zest
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup flour
boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer, adding egg yolks, one at a time, until smooth.
Add lemon juice and zest; mix thoroughly. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in milk and flour. Beat egg whites in a metal bowl until soft peaks hold; fold slowly into lemon mixture. Pour into a shallow baking pan. Place baking pan into larger pan and add enough boiling water to reach halfway up the side of the smaller pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until custard is set.

*Recipe first featured in Minnesota Monthly.

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