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Hollandaise Troubleshooting...your thoughts?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
OK...long story short, I can make hollandaise at home no problem. But when I was at work, my hollandaise would turn out fluffy/foamy!!!

Here are the two different methods I used. Can you see where I was going wrong? I can't figure it out:

Home method:
reduce some vinegar au sec with some peppercorns. add back some water, bring to back to heat, and place in mixing bowl. In the mixing bowl with the vinegar, place the egg yokes, a touch of lemon, a little salt, and a bit more water if needed.

Place bowl over pot of water and whisk vigorously. When whisk starts leaving trails in the bowl, slowly add in clarified butter. Add more lemon juice, and white pepper or cayenne to taste.

Work method:

Place egg yokes in mixing bowl. Add some water and salt well. Place bowl on/near french top and whisk. When ribbon stage reached, remove from heat and clarified butter and add lemon juice and cayenne to taste.

So here is where the problem is--when I would whisk at work, my yokes would start becoming fluffy! They would not thicken up. I would end up with what looked like a bowl of foam. I tried a number of different approaches on different batches to try to get it right...I moved the bowl further away from the french top so it warmed on cooler heat...I moved it closer to the heat to make sure it got up to temp...I tried whisking more vigorously...I tried whisking less vigorously...one time I even added just a touch of lemon juice before I started whisking. I thought that maybe I didn't separate the yokes well enough, but I was able to rule this out when someone else had gotten the yokes ready for whisking. I thought maybe the whisk I was using was putting too much air in the mixture...changing whisks didn't help.

When I whisk a hollandaise at home, I whisk/beat the yokes similar to what you would do to get a mayonnaise started--getting the yokes nice and thick. But this kind of whisking at work would, again, give me a foamy/fluffy mixture. And easing up on the whisking didn't seem to help either.

And, the one time that it looked as if I found the perfect combination of elements...and the sauce was looking thick (not foamy)...I was whisking somewhat gently--almost stirring. I never got to see if a good sauce would have resulted because another chef told me I was doing it wrong and took over. And in his hands too, it got foamy.

Ideas??? I keep thinking it had something to do with the heat since that seemed to be the one variable that was much different from when I make it at home. My other idea is maybe...just maybe...it was the bowl. the work bowl for the hollandaise was a very smooth rounded bowl--the kind of bowl you would expect to use when whisking whites for a meringue. To me, the foam looked somewhat similar to a meringue in its early stages. And why would it not foam up when someone else would use that bowl? I used the whisk that I was instructed to use. But even when I tried a different whisk...same fluffy results.

post #2 of 14
Being no expert on hollandaise by any means, I am basing my response on what you are describing. At home you are using a vinegar reduction which I am assuming is warm, if not hot which is aiding in your yolks coagulating faster. I believe it is a heat issue in that your yolks are whipping faster than they are cooking. That's why hollandaise is such a pain. You need to get the yolks to thicken but not scramble. Maybe try heating your bowl first or letting your eggs come to room temp. if possible. Commercial refrigeration often keeps things colder than your home frig. Might be enough to make a difference. Seems like the simplest things are the hardest, like pie crust. I'm known far and wide for not being able to make jello. Big joke with my friends and family, although now I can actually make it, I just don't tell anyone. Why wreck their fun?
post #3 of 14
work smarter, not harder.
reduction in robo-coupe
drip in eggs slowly
drip in butter slowly
season to taste. hold as normal

especially great for large quantities
post #4 of 14
Foamy is not bad. Just whisk more and let it cook a bit more. Drop a few drops of water in so it doesn't burn, whisk again to make sure it's cooked. It all turns out fine in the end. What's the difference after the butter has been added?
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
AH-HA! Greyeaglem hit on a few things that make a LOT of sense to me. Specifically, the coldness from the commercial refrigeration. That makes a lot of sense. When I make the sauce, both the lemons and the eggs come straight from the walk-in, and the water I use is regular tap (cold) water.

Since we use the french top stove for cooking, I can see that even if I move my mixture and bowl closer to the heat (towards the hottest part of the stove/center), the actual transfer of the heat between the stove and the bowl may not be as great as I think. My hands may be feeling great heat, but the bowl and mixture may not be heating up well. Hmmm...a combination of those things might be the trick!

Oh, and Kuan, as for the results...it is probably like you said, I need to let it cook a bit more too. The results of adding the butter (we used pretty hot clarified butter straight into the bowl) to the mixture when it was still a touch foamy was that the sauce would settle a bit and thicken up slightly. But as we held it for evening's service, the sauce would separate into a foamy top and a buttery bottom.

But like you both said, more heat and longer heat is probably what I am missing. thanks a million! this has been driving me crazy!:bounce:
post #6 of 14
I don't like using hot butter. But that's just me. It will never be always perfect consistency when you hold it. To tighten it up a bit, use a drop or two of cold water. To loosen it up use warm water.
post #7 of 14


Its a bit dificult this one never heard of some one being able to make Hollandaise in one place and not another. The most obvious answer is you are adding too much water and not enough heat at work this would produce too much volume [fluffy] before you reach the ribbon stage. Hollandaise sauce however should only have egg yolks, salt, pepper,lemon juice and clarified butter in its ingredients.Add to your Hollandaise Vinaiger, shallot reduction and tarragon to make sauce Bearnaise, chopped mint to make sauce palois, etc etc.
Steve www.masterchefinfrance.com
post #8 of 14
Can't quite agree with that last reply, chefinfrance. You need some kind of liquid to beat with your yolks, or you'll just have scrambled eggs. Every recipie I 've seen, worked with, or read about always had some form of liquid--be it a reduction of of wine, shallots, bay leaf, and pepper, or any other kind of liquid, but always some kind of a liquid to beat with the yolks.

A Hollandaise is very similar to a sabayon, except that you add butter later to it, but when making a sabayon you need to add a liquid to the yolks before beating as well--usually some kind of wine, fruit juice, or booze.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #9 of 14
It's the temperature of the clarified butter.

post #10 of 14
For One A hollandaise has no vinegar reduction traditional hollandaise, although many people use reduction traditionally used in a béarnaise but without the tarragon,

Black peppercorns,
Bay leaf,
White wine vinegar,
And white wine,

A good Hollandaise is all about the sabayon when you get that right you are on to a winner, I think you may not be cooking your sabayon correctly it should be thick some like to say until it holds the figure of 8 I generally make my hollandaise a bit thicker

hollandaise recipe

Pour 4table spoons of water in a pan with a pinch of salt and a pinch of ground pepper, place the base of the sauce pan in a Bain maire of hot water do not allow the water to approach boiling point but keep it hot in a sauce pan melt 500g butter (until clarified if you have access to a steam over steam the butter for 15 min’s in a well covered container its fool proof) beat 5 egg yolks with 1tbs of water and place in to sauce pan containing the warm water whisk your eggs until the right consistency add the clarified butter slowly whisking all the time then add 2 tbs of warm water adjust the seasoning add lemon juice at the end

That’s a textbook hollandaise recipe- taken out of larousse

Another recipe that may be suitable for you

Split 15 egg yolks

Add your reduction to the egg yolks

Place a pot of water on the stove bring it to the boil

Place your bowl of yolks over the heat whisk vigorously until you have the right consistency

Take your sabayon off the heat and add your clarified butter slowly until you have the right balance

Add some lemon juice

Add some warm water to balance your sauce out

I recommend seasoning your sauce before hand as salt dissolves in to water and fat and water dose not go well together so you have a higher chance of splitting your sauce keep your sauce in a warm place so it dose not split,
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Belated results...

Just thought I would post this for anyone else who is searching for hollandaise info....sorry it took so long to post results.

Anyways, as I hinted at in an earlier post, GreyEagleM hit the nail on the head! After experimenting with a few different methods and variables, it appears that my foam problem was the direct result of not compensating for the coldness of the eggs and lemons that came directly out from commercial refrigeration.

The easiest fix was exposing more of the bowl to direct heat from the stove while easing up on whisking just a touch. This was done by either moving the bowl more toward the hotter part of the flame or by allowing the bowl to sit flatter on the stove top (I normally held the bowl with a slight tilt toward me). This worked for each recipe variation I tried...e.g. starting with simple yolks/water/salt or the vinegar reduction/water/salt...so a belated THANKS to GREYEAGLEM!

As I said before, over a double boiler, there was never an issue--probably because more of the bowl bottom was exposed to consistent heat, allowing things to warm up quicker and evenly...while cooking it directly over the flame could vary widely depending on how I held the bowl, or where I held the bowl on the frenchtop.

True, cooking the sauce directly over a flame presented the problem of
hot spots in the bowl and egg splatters inside the bowl cooking. But rotating the bowl over the flame and careful whisking and scraping the sides took care of those problems too. I dont think I can go back to cooking hollandaise over a double boiler now!

So I guess there are three more hints/tips for anyone else making their own hollandaise! Get things warmer/hotter and whisk a touch less vigorously, and compensate for very cold ingredients. Thanks for your input everyone...but GEM nailed it first!:D

And again, sorry for the looooong delay in responding to the input!
post #12 of 14
looks like ya got all the advice ya need. I was just gonna say to do a search for BDL's post on hollandaise. I have never had a problem with his recipe.
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
post #13 of 14
I am fond of the blender version....yolks, lemon, a little salt, tabasco if you
care for it....straight unclarifed hot butter with the solids and liquid....your butter should be hot enough to bring the yolks up to temp and the milk solids and liquid in the butter add salt needed salt and keep it just thin enough ....very light, very stable.
post #14 of 14
I recently wrote an article all about hollandaise on my blog. Check it: A Chef’s Guide – Hollandaise Sauce Kiwisizzler’s Blog

Hope it helps!
Kiwisizzler's blog

Good food is food that tastes of what it is!
Kiwisizzler's blog

Good food is food that tastes of what it is!
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