Soufflés have a terrible and unwarranted reputation for being difficult to make and/or serve, notably that it will collapse like, well, like a soufflé. Like many dishes, particularly those including eggs, there is a knack, but in essence this is nothing like as difficult as you might suppose, though for people not used to cooking this would probably sound very fiddly.
The knacks, for the record, are these:
- A smooth, rich roux made glossy with egg yolks and cheese
- Whisking the egg whites and folding into the mixture with great care
- A consistent temperature and avoiding opening the door to let in cold draughts
- Serve without delay – leaving your soufflé in a cool place will cause it to fall.
Trust me, the finished results are worth the effort of whisking and stirring. The soufflé is beautifully brown on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, and melts in the mouth with a delicious cheesy residue. Have a go, if only once, to see what I mean.
- 50g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 50g cornflour
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 300ml milk
- 4 eggs
- 50-75g grated extra-strong cheddar, (blue cheese, goat’s cheese and smoked cheeses also work well)
- 50-75g gruyère
- Preparing the soufflé dish: Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf. Butter soufflé dishes or ramekins generously
- Making a thick white sauce: In a pan, melt the butter over a medium heat; stir in the flour and mustard. Cook, stirring, for 1 min. Take off the heat and gradually stir in the milk, mixing it in thoroughly before adding more. Return to the heat and stir continuously until very thick (around 10 mins). Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
- Crack the eggs, placing the whites into a clean bowl and stirring the yolks into the sauce. Stir in gruyère and cheddar until they melt into the mixture, then season well.
- Adding the egg whites: Use a clean whisk to beat the egg whites until peaks form that just hold their shape (electric is best as it will make the job much quicker). Then take a metal spoon and gently stir the whipped whites into the white sauce in a figure of eight.
- Top-hatting: Spoon the mixture into the dish. 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. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 mins until the top is golden and risen and has a slight wobble. Serve immediately.
- EQUIPMENT: 15cm soufflé dish, saucepan, 2 large mixing bowls, wooden spoon, spatula, baking sheet, large metal spoon, measuring jug, grater, electric whisk, cutlery knife.