<sigh> Sometimes making mayonnaise is no trouble at all and other times ... well ... the dog heard a bit of swearing last night.
Last night I started with one room temp egg yolk and 1/2 cup rice bran oil (because it's what I had). I didn't use mustard because I was making a black olive aioli and didn't want the additional flavor. It started to get very thick and when I began to add 1/2 cup of olive oil (drop by drop! I promise!) it got so thick that it was a gummy mass. I tried to go a tiny bit further with the oil and it broke. I tried rescuing it by the traditional method of starting with a clean bowl and another room-temperature egg yolk and that ultimately broke too. I pushed it further by trying a third yolk in desperation and it ended up less broken and very eggy.
I did a little reading this morning and read that I should have added water when it got too thick. That's news to me. Can you continue on adding oil after adding water? Also, if adding water is the fix could I add lemon juice instead? The lemon juice needs to go in at some point anyway.
Last week I made mayonnaise starting with the same 1 room-temp yolk, 1/2 cup rice bran oil, and 1/2 cup olive oil and had no problem whatsoever. The only differences are a different brand of egg and a different brand of olive oil.
Why does mayonnaise sometimes get to that too-thick-to-whisk stage?