I’ve never made soufflé before. I’ve certianly enjoyed it, particularly the indulgent chocolate variety. My mother used to serve us a bacon and cheese version; a reliable soufflé supper when she was out at work.
As the kitchen is slowly being boxed up, the one item we’re not short on is eggs and as I’ve not dealt with wrapping the ramekins yet, it seemed like time to overcome my fear of soufflé and get whipping.
Soufflé is all about air, and swift serving—this much I know. It seems to be a dish people are wary of; I guess I was too. But the method is definitely quite simple. I liked the Alice Waters mixed in with a bit of BBC approach, covering all my bases.
Once the base is made, it’s about some seriously aerated egg whites. I skipped the electric beater and went handheld this time; tiring work.
One recipe recommended adding an extra egg white if the final mixture wasn’t light and fluffy enough—a good cheat tip, me thinks. Since a soufflé is all about air, you need to take care to fold the whites into the base mixture as gently as possible. I spooned the mix into the lightly buttered ramekins and crossed my fingers. For the more professional look, you can run a cutlery knife around the edge to create a ‘top hat’ effect; this ensures the soufflé rises above the rim and doesn’t stick.
Final result? I was pretty chuffed: golden and puffy. Certainly homemade, but tasty and light. A perfect breakfast, which I intend to make again.
1 tbsp flour
½pt milk, warmed
4 tbsp soft goats cheese
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs of thyme
Prepare the basic mixture by stirring one generous tablespoon of flour into 1oz of butter melted in a heavy saucepan. Gradually add just under ½pt of warmed milk, stirring until your mixture is quite smooth. Let this sauce cook very gently and slowly, stirring frequently, for close on 10 minutes. Now stir in the goats cheese and the very thoroughly beaten yolks of 4 large eggs. Remove the mixture from the heat, and continue stirring for a few seconds. Now add a seasoning of salt (always to be added after the cheese) and quite a generous amount of freshly-ground pepper, plus a pinch of cayenne and the thyme leaves (omit the stalk). This basic mixture can be made well in advance.
When the time comes to make the souffle, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Have the shelf placed fairly low in the oven, and a baking sheet on the shelf. Butter your soufflé dishes.
Whisk the whites of the eggs, in a large dry and clean bowl, until they stand in peaks on the whisk and look very creamy. Tip half the whites on top of the basic mixture. With a palette knife cut them into it again, slowly rotating the bowl with your left hand, lifting rather than stirring the whole mass. Add the remainder of the whites in the same way. All this should take only a few seconds. Spoon the mixture gently into the ramekins. Put it instantly into the oven.
As to timing, it depends upon the type of both the oven and the dish. In small ramekins at 200C/400F/Gas 6 they soufflés should be done in about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.