Yes, it can happen that a very important dinners to be ruined because of collapsing souffles. Cooks are needlessly terrified by the idea of making what it is, after all, little more than a sauce with some beaten egg whites mixed in. Turn this stressful experience into a great fun and make excellent curtain raisers. How? By following the below instructions.
The ingredients that will help you to glorify this experience are:
- 25g butter
- 3tablespoons plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, English mustard or ground nutmeg
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 200ml milk
- 50g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
- 25g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 eggs, separated
- Salt and black pepper
Do you want to enjoy that moment of exquisite glory? Then start immediately by making the base sauce, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan, then stir in the flour and the curry powder, English powder or ground nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Cook for 1 minute stirring constantly until the roux has a sandy texture.
Gradually add the milk, stirring until the sauce thickens, then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, mix in all but a spoonful of the two cheeses until melted, then beat in the egg yolks. Season well with salt and black pepper.
Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff, but not dry, peaks. (Include the extra egg whites if you want a very high souffle) Beat 1 tablespoon of egg white into the sauce to loosen it. This makes it easer to fold in the whites without losing any air.
With a large metal spoon, gently fold in the rest of the beaten egg whites, turning the spoon in a figure-of-eight movement.
Butter a 1.2 litre souffle dish and coat the sides with dry breadcrumbs to help the souffle ‘climb’ up the side of the dish as it rises during cooking.
Spoon the souffle into the prepared dish and sprinkle the top with the reserved cheese. Bake in a preheated oven, 190 grade C for 20-25 minutes, until well risen and golden brown -the souffle should wobble very slightly when shaken. Serve instantly.
Whisking egg whites
Souffles rise to impressive heights because of air trapped in whisked egg whites. Using a food processor will not produce enough volume fo a souffle. The best-textured egg whites, however, are produced by whisking with a balloon whisk in a large copper bowl. Lift the whisk out of the whites each time, using a large circular sweeps of your arm to incorporate as as possible air possible. A small amount of salt helps to make the white more stable and so able to trap the air longer.
Tips about flavoring and fillings
Stir wholegrain mustard, chopped fresh chives and cayenne pepper into a cheese souffle base before you fold in the egg whites.
Pureed root vegetables, especially parsnips, make a delicious souffle base if mixed with Indian spices.
Red peppers boiled until soft with several whole cloves of garlic and then pureed and added to the egg yolks and flour with a little paprika and cayenne pepper make a lovely colored souffle.
Recipe: Josceline Dimbleby (The Cooks Companion)
Picture: BBC Food