What could make a better light lunch than a delicious savoury soufflé with a fresh salad on the side? Crisp on the outside but melt-in-the-mouth smooth and bubbly on the inside, a soufflé is always going to impress. You don’t need to be afraid of your soufflé failing to rise or collapsing as long as you follow these golden rules:
- Use a well-buttered soufflé dish which is straight-sided. This allows the mixture to rise properly, right through.
- Only fill the dish ¾ full. You will not need to make a collar for a hot soufflé the way you would for a cold one. Cold soufflés are really more of a mousse, made with gelatine and cream, than a soufflé.
- To prevent your soufflé from collapsing you need to serve it the moment it comes out of the oven. Make sure you have your side-salad prepared whilst the dish is cooking.
- Butter 45 g
- Plain flour 45 g
- Milk 225 ml
- Grated strong-flavored cheese such as Emmenthal or Cheddar 130 g
- Sea salt flakes
- Freshly ground pepper
- Egg yolks (use large eggs) 4
- Egg whites 5
- Parmesan cheese 1 tbsp
- Pre-heat the oven to 190 ⁰c/375⁰F and place a metal baking tray on the middle shelf.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or hand whisk to make a paste. With the heat still on, gradually add the milk, stirring until the paste is fully dissolved. Do not let the mixture come to the boil while there are any lumps in it. The sauce will thicken as it comes to the boil and should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- Allow the white sauce to cool slightly and then add the grated cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix well then beat in the egg yolks one at a time.
- In a spotlessly clean bowl, mix the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Any impurities in the egg white will prevent it from whisking up properly.
- Fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture using a metal spoon. Be careful not to over- mix at this stage.
- Pour the mixture into the buttered soufflé dish and gently spoon over the grated parmesan. Run the back of a teaspoon around the mixture at the edge of the dish to flatten it around the rim. This will give your soufflé a professional looking finish with a well-risen center.
- Place the soufflé dish on the baking tray and bake in the center of the oven for 30-40 minutes until well risen and golden-brown. Serve immediately.
Once you have mastered the basic cheese soufflé, you can add some extra ingredients on your shopping list and experiment with all kinds of exciting variations:
Mushroom soufflé – replace the grated cheese with 175g finely chopped mushrooms which have been fried with 1 chopped shallot and chopped parsley. Drain this cooked mixture well before adding it to the white sauce.
Ham soufflé – replace the grated cheese with 75g chopped, cooked ham and a spoonful of mustard.
Spinach or Watercress soufflé – substitute pureed, well drained cooked spinach or watercress for the grated cheese.