Zephyrus, or sometimes just Zephyr (Ζέφυρος, Zéphyros) is the Greek god of the west wind. The gentlest of the winds, Zephyr is known as the life-bearing wind, the messenger of spring.
Zefir (Russian: Зефи́р, may also be spelled zephyr or zephir) is a dessert commonly produced and sold in the countries of the former Soviet Union. As the name suggests it has a delicate airy consistency. It is made by whipping an apple puree, which has been thickened with pectin, and egg whites into a foam. The foam is stabilized by a sugar and agar syrup.
To make Zephir at home you need three simple ingredients — apple puree, egg whites, and sugar. You will also need two special gelling agents — pectin and agar. My favorite types and brands are:
Pomona sugar free, preservative free, low-methoxyl citrus pectin (gels low-sugar fruit purees, locally sold in Whole Foods)
Telephone Brand agar agar powder (locally sold in MT Supermarket, next to cashiers)
You will need a thermometer and a stand mixer. When it is ready for shaping, warm Zephyr foam can be spread 1 ” thick on a smooth surface, set, and cut to portions. Pipe the foam to make each piece of Zephyr especially attractive. For this you will need a large pastry bag with a piping tip, usually an open or closed star.
This recipe requires some practice to master. Making Zephyr can be a little tricky. Making perfect sugar and agar syrup is one of the more difficult steps. Agar needs to by hydrated properly — for at least 30 minutes. Unlike other sugar syrups, this syrup needs to be constantly stirred during cooking. Otherwise, most of gelled agar will stick to the bottom of the pot. Every time you make Zephyr, it is important to time the process so the sugar syrup reaches the right temperature as the same time as the whipped foam reaches the needed volume. Practice your piping skills before, because Zephyr will set in minutes and you need to work quickly while the foam is still warm.
When mastered, Zephyr is one of the quickest, cheapest, and most beautiful desserts to make. It is gluten-free, vegan, and always is a crowd-pleaser. Although it seems like a lot of sugar is used, when a volume of whipped foam increases 10 times, the calorie per portion ratio becomes relatively low. Zephyr is also fun to make with kids! The transformations of the ingredients look magical. Enjoy!
Zephyr: Green Apple and Key Lime
Servings: 12 portions
for fruit paste (for 36 portions)
- 400 g apples Granny Smith, ~2 large apples, peeled and cored
- 35 g key lime juice with pulp
- 50 g sugar
- 1/4 tsp low-methoxyl citrus pectin "Pomona"
- 1/4 tsp calcium water activates Pomona pectin, included
for sugar and agar syrup
- 125 g sugar
- 80 g water cold
- 7 g agar powder "Telephone Brand"
- 20 g egg white ~1/2 egg white of large egg
- 165 g fruit paste (recipe above)
for fruit paste
Preheat oven to 325F. Peel, slice in half, and core apples. Place the on a roasting pan, seal it with foil, and bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour.
In a blender jar, mix baked apples, key lime juice* and pulp, sugar, pectin, and calcium water.** Blend on high for 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a sauce pan, bring to boiling on medium heat. Lower heat and let simmer for 2 minutes.
Cool down to room temperature. This can be made in advance and refrigerated. Stored in a clean jar for up to 3 months. Double or triple the recipe to have it ready for the next time when you want to make Zephyr.
for sugar and agar syrup
Mix agar powder and water and set aside for 30 minutes.
Add sugar, stir, and start cooking the syrup on lower heat. Keep the probe of thermometer in and watch the temperature. The goal is 110C/230F.
Prepare two trays lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Prepare a large pastry bag with a piping tip. Have thermometer, silicone spatula, and scraper handy.
Mix 165g of cooked fruit puree and 20g egg white (both should be room temperature!) in a bowl of stand mixer. Start whisking.
When the volume of fruit and egg white foam increases 5-6 times, it is time to add sugar syrup. Sugar syrup is ready when reaches 108-109F/226-228F. Turn the heat off, continue stirring and watch how bubbles become smaller when the temperature decreases.
Add syrup to the foam. Make sure to scrape most of it, but be careful with quickly hardening pieces. One of the common issues when these particles clog the piping tip later. Continue whipping the foam until it cools down to about 145F. Touch the mixer bowl, you'll feel it.
Fill pastry bag with the foam and pipe Zephyr. It is ready to eat in 10 minutes. You can store it refrigerated or at room temperature. It is the best fresh. The texture dences a little in 2-3 days. You can dust Zephyr with confectioners sugar or glaze with melted chocolate.
*Try other flavors by replacing key lime with passion fruit, tart cherry, or raspberry purees.
**To make calcium water mix 1/8 tsp calcium powder with 1/8 cup (40ml) of cold water. Stir well! Calcium water is not a solution, it's dispersion.
If you make more than one portion of fruit puree in advance, label the number of portions. It is important to keep the level of pectin concentration the same.
Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.002g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 39mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g