Raymond Blanc has a lot to say on the Soufflé – and he starts with Rise Above It – easier said than done. According to his autobiography “Of all the dishes that create anguish for cooks, the Soufflé has to be way up there, somewhere at the top of the list of so-called kitchen conundrums”
However, I had not read this the first time I made a Soufflé and so, was not feeling any sense of angst. My first attempt was a crayfish Soufflé, followed by a blue cheese and spinach Soufflé and then a chocolate Soufflé. They all worked.
But now, I have read A Taste of My Life and I have learnt way more about the Soufflé. And I know that following these tips will make all the difference to your Soufflés.
For a sweet Soufflé follow these 4 tips:
1. Start by buttering your ramekin or Soufflé dish with melted butter, then coat with sugar – make sure that the butter is completely coated. If you want to, you can add powdered nuts, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla seeds, lemon zest – let your imagination run wild.
2. The base of the Soufflé is what holds it all together, it adds the density and the creaminess and gives the viscosity to the egg whites. Into the base you can add whole pieces of chocolate, nougat, fudge, crushed biscuit – again, use your imagination. The base is Pastry Cream and it needs to be quite thick to ensure the perfect Soufflé. The pastry cream can be made 2 days in advance.
3. Next comes the flavour. Here are some suggestions: caramel, chocolate, praline, pistachio, coconut, berries, fruit pulp, citrus, liqueur. Once the flavour has been added to the base it should have the consistency of Crème fraîche. You can add this to the base a day in advance.
4. Now we need the lifter. Egg white is used for this stage. If you want, add a little bit of lemon juice to the egg whites and remember to ensure that your bowl is clean, and that no egg yolk is in your egg whites! Add the sugar a little at a time to ensure maximum rise. The peaks should be soft to give you larger bubbles and make your Soufflé light. But, if the egg whites are too soft the Soufflé will collapse, and if they are too stiff the Soufflé will not rise as well, and will be rubbery. Before you add the egg whites the base and flavour need to be warm. Start by adding only a quarter of the egg whites to the base and flavour and whisk it in. Do this quickly. Then use a spatula to fold in the rest of the egg white. Do this with a light hand and do not over mix.
Now that you have followed the 4 steps you can pour the mixture into your ramekin or Soufflé dish. Fill it right to the top and then run a palette knife over the top to make a smooth level surface. Sprinkle with icing sugar and allow to melt. After 1 minute sprinkle more icing sugar over the top and then ‘thumb up’. Run the tip of your thumb around the inside of the top of the ramekin or Soufflé dish to create a tiny gap between the ramekin and the mixture.
Place the Soufflé onto a hot tray in the preheated oven but not on the top shelf. For a small Soufflé bake at 200˚ Celsius for 8 minutes. For a large Soufflé bake at 200˚ Celsius for 35 minutes. A fan assisted oven’s cooking time should be reduced by 15 – 20%, so, for the large Soufflé bake only for 25 minutes.
After 3 minutes for a small Soufflé and 6 minutes for a large Soufflé check to see they are rising evenly. If not, you can run the tip of a knife between the ramekin or Soufflé dish and the Soufflé. To check your Soufflé is cooked put a skewer into the middle of the dish and then place the skewer very lightly onto the skin just above your upper lip. If the skewer is warm to hot, the Soufflé is cooked.
To make your sweet Soufflé in advance you can place the ramekins into the fridge or freezer for up to 3 hours. You will need to adjust your cooking time, so using 10 minutes cooking time as your base, if you had put them straight into the oven, use the following table:
|Chill Time||1 hour||1 ½ hours||2 hours||2 ½ hours||3 hours|
|Cooking time from fridge||10 min||10 min||11 min||12 min||14 min|
|Cooking time from freezer||12 min||14 min||16 min||19 min||24 min|
This is fantastic for when you are having a dinner party!
For a savoury Soufflé you need to follow these tips:
1. coat the butter with breadcrumbs.
2. your base is a white sauce – infuse the milk with cloves, bouquet garni, black pepper, bay leaves, onions. Enrich the base with egg yolks which you can mix into the base off the heat, one at a time. Sharpen the base with mustard.
3. flavour with strong cheese, nuts, liqueur, lemon juice, black pepper, meat, fish, vegetables
4. the lifter remains the egg whites, but with no added sugar. You will have to whisk for longer as you need the same volume as for the sweet Soufflé. Do not add salt at the beginning but rather at the end. You can add any seasoning to the egg whites but do so towards the end of the whisking process.
The best Soufflé for a dinner party would be a twice baked Soufflé.
As the challenge only ends today, I will be posting my recipes later.