If you thought you couldn’t manage a soufflé, think again. Our easy steps will have you presenting a perfect, puffed-up soufflé you can be proud of.
Preparing your stoneware soufflé dish or ramekins is key. In order for the soufflé batter to rise up the sides as well as in the centre of the dish, it needs something to cling to, so if you’re making a savoury soufflé, grease the dish thoroughly with butter and then sprinkle the sides with very fine breadcrumbs or finely grated Parmesan. Shake out any extra. For a sweet soufflé, grease the sides with butter and then sprinkle them with castor sugar. (Turn your oven on to preheat to the temperature recommended in your recipe.) Chill your prepared dishes until you need them.
You can use any straight-sided dish that allows the soufflé to rise straight up, so why don’t you try your Le Creuset stoneware mugs – which are all ovenproof – if you don’t have individual ramekins?
If you’re making a savoury soufflé, you’ll be using a white sauce for the base. Use a good thick-based saucepan that spreads heat evenly so the sauce doesn’t catch. Sweet soufflés usually require you to make some kind of crème patisserie as a base to which you’ll add your flavouring (such as chocolate ganache, although citrus, rum and coffee flavourings are also delicious); here, too, a really good saucepan makes cooking so much easier.
This is the stage when you are dealing with the egg whites and the thing to remember is that adding air is key! Whisk the egg whites until you have soft peaks that just hold their shape. Then gently fold the whipped whites into the white sauce or crème patisserie, being careful to incorporate and retain as much air as possible for a feather-light final result.
Carefully spoon your mixture into the prepared ramekins or soufflé dish. Now take a knife or your finger and run it around the top edge of the mixture just inside the rim of the dish. This gives you a wonderful ‘top hat’ effect when your soufflé rises as it cooks.
Place the filled ramekins or soufflé dish in a bain-marie to bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden and puffy. What is a bain-marie, you might ask? This hi-tech-sounding name simply describes a water bath that creates a gentle, uniform heat around your food while it cooks. Use an ovenproof dish with high sides, line it with a tea towel (to prevent the ramekins chipping or slipping around), place all your ramekins in the dish, and then pour boiling water from your kettle into the ovenproof dish until it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake immediately in the preheated oven.
RISE TO THE OCCASION…
Our delicious Orange Soufflé uses simple ingredients – milk, sugar, a couple of spoons of semolina, orange zest, eggs and ground almonds – which makes it perfect for practising your soufflé skills. Individual ramekins mean that you won’t have deflate the pretty picture when you serve up your masterpieces.
Once you’ve discovered the secret to soufflés, we guarantee there will be no holding you back. Here is some inspiration for sophisticated soufflé flavour combinations…