What is a homemade Hollandaise sauce? What IS the sauce?
Whether we buy or make them at home from scratch, we use them all the time.
For me, sauces have always been something I’m very interested in. They are a combination of lots of flavors, which have to work perfectly together, technique, and detail.
It’s hard to make a perfect sauce every time. It’s always an experiment, and that makes it even more fun.
The formula is simple:
LIQUIDS + THICKENERS = SAUCES
But what’s behind the formula is much more difficult.
Don’t worry, I’m here, and I’ll explain everything to you!
28 October 1846. It’s the date Auguste Escoffier was born. And by that time, I guess no one had even an idea how the culinary world will be changed.
Before him, kitchens were unclean & unsafe. The job in the kitchen was hot & thankless.
He revolutionized the professional kitchen; cooking became a profession. He invented a kitchen hierarchy and created many great recipes.
He was called ‘King of the chefs, and chef of the kings.‘ As one chef said, Escoffier believed that ‘Well trained chef can produce truly exceptional food.’
I hope now you understand why he is so important. He is ‘the big guy’ in the culinary world, for all who are learning to cook.
We all are using the techniques he simplified, modernized, and structured.
The Five Mother sauces
Even though chefs used to cook those sauces before him, the sauces weren’t clear, identified. Escoffier structured them. He noticed that there are primary bases, and even if we improve the sauce, the base stays the same.
So there came Five Mother Sauces.
We use sauces almost everywhere. Therefore, I reckon it is essential to know the hot sauces’ bases in French cuisine.
They can be used as the final sauces for your dishes, but as you get better, I recommend to improve them; make secondary sauces of Five Mother Sauces.
So here they are, the big five:
- Béchamel (white roux + milk)
- Velouté (blond roux + white stock)
- Espagnolé (brown roux + brown stock)
- Hollandaise (egg yolks + clarified melted butter)
- Tomato (roux (optional) + tomatoes + white stock)
Everybody starts with Bechamel, but I like homemade Hollandaise more, so let’s start with it.
HOMEMADE HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
The most important thing is the temperature of the pot.
You are dealing with the eggs, which means that if the bowl and eggs’ heat comes higher than 65°C, you will make scrambled eggs, not the sauce.
We have two tricks.
For beginners. Use a double boiler. Fill the pot below with a little water and put another one on the top. Ensure that the water from below doesn’t reach the bowl above, which would increase the temperature.
Sometimes take off the top pot to decrease the temperature.
Advanced. It’s about understanding temperature by using a hand palm. Use only one pot, turn the heat on the lowest. After a few minutes, take the bowl and touch the bottom.
The temperature is right when you cannot keep your palm on the bottom for three seconds (you can do it for one second for sure).
But if your hand jumps straight back from the pot, it’s too hot, and you need to reduce the temperature.
Let’s start making it!
Homemade Hollandaise Sauce | Easy & Authentic
3 egg yolks
200g of clarified butter
10ml ice-cold water (if needed)
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste
- Firstly, clarify the butter and set it aside (melt the butter and discard milk solids).
- Separate egg whites from yolks and put them in a pot, where you will make the sauce. Turn the heat on, put the pot on the stove, and whisk the egg yolks vigorously until creamy stage. DON’T FORGET TO REGULATE THE TEMPERATURE!
- Now it’s time to turn the heat off and slowly add butter. Do not add hot butter (I mean higher than 65°C). It will make yolk proteins coagulate. Add it little by little. If you add too much butter at once, the whole mix will separate.
- By the time everything is well-combined, add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. And you’re done!
If you got everything right, the homemade Hollandaise sauce should be spectacular! It has a very light yellow color, creamy & airy at the same time, and consistency is perfect to coat the spoon’s bottom.
You wanna talk about the taste?
It’s amazing! Buttery, rich flavor. The smell is divine! And it doesn’t feel fatty. It feels very satisfying and pleasant.
What if the sauce splits?
Well, I had a lot of times when this happened.…
Fortunately, I think I did find out how to fix the sauce. Of course, it did happen only with some great books and practice.
- As this sauce is an emulsion, it is made by incorporating liquid with fat. You can fix it by adding a few DROPS of freezing water and remixing it.
- If that doesn’t help, pour out the surplus of butter and add a few drops of icing water as well. Then mix everything for a few minutes and, if needed, carefully incorporate the butter again in the sauce.
- Or repeat the 2nd directions’ step with additional egg yolk. Then carefully incorporate split sauce into a new sauce base.
- And if that doesn’t help, start the Hollandaise sauce all over again!
Three things, which shows well-whisked egg yolks
- The original volume does expand 2-3 times.
- You can draw lines with your whisk and clearly see the bottom (it means it thickened).
- The color becomes lighter.
To prevent bacteria growth and butter from solidifying, the sauce should be held around 63°C. Higher temperatures will make egg yolks’ proteins coagulate, and the sauce will be curdled.
For food safety, you can keep the sauce warm for a maximum of 2 hours. This means USE IT, FROZE IT, OR THROW IT.
What is clarified butter?
The butter itself contains milk fat, water, and clarified butter.
As we melt the butter, we see two parts with a naked eye. They are milk solids (white) and butter (yellow). The third part, which evaporates, is water.
So steam the water and take only that part of butter, which doesn’t have any milk fat. That is clarified butter.
Which butter to buy?
The best one in the supermarket. And here’s why…
Let’s do rough mathematics. By that, I mean, I don’t count how much water evaporates.
So in this sauce, we have 23% egg yolks and 77% butter.
Now I bet you see butter is pretty damn important.
The butter is the key to homemade Hollandaise sauce’s high quality and flavor.
Do you really need to use exactly clarified butter?
I understand the question…
I, personally, use whole melted butter, and I have no problem. But other chefs say that using butterfat can ruin the sauce, so it’s like I’m trying to protect you.
Also, it depends on what butter you use. I have the quality in mind.
Over time, and especially if you experiment, you will notice the difference in thickness and flavor, and you’ll find your own best way to make this sauce.
Reheating the homemade Hollandaise sauce
The funniest part is that most of the time if I fail with the homemade Hollandaise sauce, it happens in the reheating part.
Because I forget the fact about the temperature and treat it like other sauces.
This sauce is exceptional.
YOU STILL CANNOT GO HIGHER THAN 65°C AND HAVE TO BE CAREFUL WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE POT.
If the bottom of the pot is too hot, egg yolks’ proteins will coagulate, and you’ll have curdled sauce.
So, for reheating, act as if you are a beginner and use a double boiler.
But still, don’t feel too relaxed, keep an eye on it, and continuously stir with a spatula.
As always, contact me if you have questions. I’m happy to help you master your kitchen. And definitely try this sauce.
It will go perfectly with poached eggs in the morning or some fish for dinner. You’ll get some recipes from me where you can use this sauce as well.
And have a delicious day!