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Rise and Shine! Soufflé!

Daring Cooks
November 2010

Hi everyone! This is Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen. We are excited to be hosting this month’s challenge, and look forward to seeing your creations. We have chosen a classic dish from the world of French cuisine – Soufflé! The word soufflé derives from the French verb souffler (or, if you prefer from the Latin sufflare, meaning to blow up/puff up) and properly made soufflés are light, ethereal creations with a creamy center. They are versatile and delicious, can be sweet or savory, and can serve as an appetizer, main course, side dish or dessert. However, soufflés have also acquired a reputation for being technically challenging, and the soufflé that doesn’t rise (or which rises but then collapses) is a common stereotype of culinary disaster. If this is your impression of soufflés, we hope that this challenge will change your mind.

Download the printable. pdf file HERE

By following a few simple rules, we hope that everyone will be able to make an aesthetically pleasing and delicious soufflé. (And in the worst case, if your soufflé doesn’t rise properly, you’ll still have a very tasty mousse or pudding…)

There are basically two parts to a soufflé recipe: the base and the egg whites. For savory soufflés, the base is usually a thick roux-based sauce made of butter, flour and milk or stock – to which you add the flavoring ingredients and the egg yolks. Sweet soufflés are based on a crème patisserie, or thick custard. The egg whites are beaten separately so that they incorporate lots of air bubbles; then the egg whites are folded into the base and the mixture spooned into a soufflé dish. After baking in the oven, the soufflé will magically rise. However, be warned that what goes up must come down: even a perfect soufflé will start to ‘deflate’ once you remove it from the oven - so be sure to serve it (or photograph it!) as soon as possible. In fact, we think the photographic aspect of this project may turn out to be more difficult than the culinary part…

We hope you have fun with this soufflé challenge! And bear in mind the words of James Beard: "The only thing that will make a soufflé fall is if it knows you are afraid of it."

Recipe Source: The chocolate soufflé recipe is our adaptation of one by Gordon Ramsay. The original can be found at BBC Good Food. The other soufflé recipes are our own adaptations from many different sources.

Blog-checking lines: Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.

Posting Date: November 14, 2010

Note: Here are some hints that we have found useful in making soufflés:

Will it rise? In our experience, savory soufflés tend not to rise as much as the dessert variety. After much experimentation, we believe that this is due to the ratio of ‘filling’ ingredients to eggs – dessert soufflés usually have much more egg white relative to the flavoring ingredients. For best results in a savory soufflé, select ingredients with stronger flavor and low water content. We recommend no more than 2 oz/60g of ‘filling’ per egg to achieve maximum lift. See also below for our tip on beating the egg yolks to further improve lift.


Rising: chocolate soufflé compared to a cauliflower soufflé

Recipe size: If you want to make more than the recipe indicates, everything should work just fine –but don’t use a baking container that’s bigger than 2 (US) quarts (approximately 1.9 L/1.6 imperial quarts.) If you have more soufflé than this, use two baking dishes.

Prepare everything beforehand and work briskly. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the whole recipe and prepare all your ingredients and equipment beforehand, rather than stopping to read each step as you go along. But don’t feel like you have to rush: soufflés really are much more forgiving than they’re cracked up to be.

Use fresh eggs at room temperature. Cold eggs won’t whip up so well.

Use a clean mixing bowl and mixer blades for the egg whites. Even a little grease or detergent can interfere with the formation of air bubbles in the egg whites. Similarly, take care not to get any egg yolk in your egg whites when you separate the eggs. Egg yolks contain fat, which has the same bubble-destroying properties as grease and detergent.

Temper the egg yolks. Tempering the egg yolks means bringing them closer to the temperature of the soufflé base before mixing them together. (If you add cold, or even room temperature egg yolks to the hot base, you run the risk of making scrambled egg…) The usual technique for tempering eggs involves mixing some of the (warm) base into the egg yolks, stirring thoroughly to disperse it before it starts to cook the eggs. Once the eggs are warmed up in this way, they can be safely added to the base. However, after multiple disappointing savory soufflés using this method, we tried the technique of beating the yolks over a bath of warm water, as one does for a sabayon. This made all the difference in the world. The detailed instructions are included below in the watercress soufflé recipe, but the approach can be applied to any savory soufflé.

Make sure that the oven is pre-heated. The first few minutes are critical for making the soufflé rise properly; make sure it’s up to the correct temperature and don’t leave the door open for too long when you put your soufflé in.

Prepare your dishes thoroughly. Make sure that your soufflé dish is thoroughly buttered and lined with crumbs, cheese, chocolate, etc as directed. This goes for the collar too if you’re using one (see below). The crumbs are really helpful in showing where you might have missed a spot – if they don’t stick to any area, be sure to patch it with more butter. Also, do make sure the top edge of your dish is clean by running your finger along the rim. Otherwise, soufflé will burn in that spot and it can also interfere with the rise.

Keep the oven (mostly) closed during baking. It’s often said that soufflés will collapse if the oven door is opened during baking. That’s partly true – you should keep the oven closed as much as possible during baking – but in our experience you probably won’t ruin your soufflé if you briefly open the oven to check on things, particularly near the end of cooking time.

Watching the soufflé rise is great entertainment… with the door closed.

In fact, one time after putting a soufflé in the oven, we noticed we’d neglected to add the cheese. So we pulled it back out, threw in the cheese, stirred it around a bit and put it back. It came out just fine. Honestly, they are much more forgiving than their reputation would allow.

Ring around the collar. Adding a collar is purely optional and works best when you want to add height to your soufflé dish. We’ve never needed one for dessert soufflés which tend to be pretty stable, and only needed it for a savory soufflé when we overfilled our ramekins. If you want to try this, you can find instructions at http://www.baking911.com/howto/souffle.htm and http://www.wellsphere.com/healthy-cooking-article/how-to-make-a-souffle-collar/545505.

Mandatory Items: You must make a baked soufflé – using any one of the recipes provided or any other soufflé recipe that looks interesting and tasty. (Note, however, that not all recipes that call themselves soufflés are really soufflés! So-called frozen, chilled or iced soufflés are really mousses, and their aerated texture is maintained by incorporation of gelatin; also, there are a lot of casserole recipes masquerading as soufflé.) If you’re a veteran soufflé maker, we also ask that you make a soufflé that you haven’t done before. Of course that’s on the honor system, but it’s also a lot of fun to try something new!

Note for vegans and others who can’t eat eggs: We did see some vegan soufflés in our Google searches that looked beautiful, but we did not try any. We’re quite eager to see what you can come up with!

Variations allowed: Three soufflé recipes are provided; you can use one of these, or substitute a recipe of your choosing. However, as noted above they must be proper, baked soufflés, not frozen/chilled soufflés, skillet soufflés or other imposters. And it has to be something new to you.

Preparation time: Plan on about 1 ½ hours from start to finish – including baking time.

Equipment required:
Soufflé dish (7-8 cups/1.5-2 quarts/1.6-2L), or a deep baking dish with relatively straight sides. You can also use small ramekin dishes (or oven-proof coffee cups!); these will cook significantly faster.
Whisk (an electric mixer will make it a lot easier, but hand whisking is great exercise)
Various measuring spoons (¼, ½ and 1 teaspoon; tablespoon) and/or kitchen scale
Miscellaneous mixing bowls and pans, including a large bowl for beating the egg whites.

Chocolate Souffle

Adapted From BBC Good Food Recipe by Gordon Ramsay

Ingredients

FOR THE DISHES

2 Tbsp (30 ml) 1 oz (30g) unsalted butter, for greasing
Cocoa powder or finely grated chocolate

FOR THE CREME PATISSERIE

2 tbsp (30 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tsp (10 gm) (0.35 oz) caster (superfine) sugar (regular sugar is OK)
½ tsp (4½ gm) (0.15 oz) corn starch (aka cornflour)
1 medium egg yolk
1 medium whole egg
4 Tbsp (60 ml) milk
5 Tbsp (75 ml) heavy cream (or double cream)
3 oz (90gm) good-quality dark chocolate preferably 70+% cocoa solids, broken in pieces
2 Tbsp (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
Optional: 2 tsp orange zest or 2 tsp minced chipotle chile en adobo or 1 tsp chipotle chile powder. (The chile version is a Monkeyshines favorite!) Optional: powdered sugar for dusting

FOR THE EGG WHITES

6 medium egg whites
6½ Tbsp (95 ml) 3 oz (90g) superfine/caster sugar (if you don’t have it, regular sugar is OK)

Directions:

1. Heat oven to moderate 375 ˚F/190 ˚C/gas mark 5.
2. Take four 1 cup/~240ml soufflé dishes and brush them completely with softened butter. Tip a little cocoa powder or grated chocolate into each dish, roll the dish around tilting it as you do so it is evenly lined all round.
3. For the crème patisserie, mix the flour, sugar and corn starch into a small bowl. Put egg yolk and whole egg into a medium sized bowl, beat lightly, then beat in half of the flour mixture to give a smooth paste. Tip in the rest of the flour mixture and cocoa powder and mix well.
4. To make the ganache, pour the milk and cream into a pan and bring just to the boil. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and beat until it is melted and smooth with no lumps.
5. Gradually stir hot chocolate ganache into the paste from step 3, and add the orange zest or chile if using. This is your crème patisserie.
6. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks with an electric whisk. Sprinkle in the sugar as you are mixing. Keep whisking to give stiff, firm peaks to give volume to the soufflés.

These are stiff peaks

7. Stir about 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the beaten egg whites into the crème patisserie. Carefully fold in a third of the rest, cutting through the mixture. Fold in another third (take care not to lose the volume), then fold in the rest.
8. Spoon the mixture into the dishes. Run a spoon across the top of each dish so the mixture is completely flat. Take a little time to wipe any splashes off the outside of each dish, or they will burn on while cooking.
9. Bake the soufflés for 15-17 minutes.
10. The soufflés should have risen by about two thirds of their original height and jiggle when moved, but be set on top.

Watercress Soufflé

A Monkeyshines in the Kitchen recipe

This soufflé could really have used a collar..

Ingredients

2 Tbsp 1 oz/30g butter plus additional for the soufflé dish
3½ Tbsp (55 ml) 1 oz/30g plain (all purpose) flour
1 cup/8 fluid oz (240ml) milk
½ cup (120 ml) 2 oz/60g parmesan cheese, finely grated plus additional for the soufflé dish
1 cup (250ml) 2 oz/60g finely chopped de-stemmed watercress (can substitute spinach) – about 1 large bunch (this measure is the leaves after they’ve been washed, de-stemmed, and chopped)
4 large eggs, separated
½ tsp (2½ ml) (3 gm) (.1 oz) prepared mustard
¼ tsp (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) (0.05 oz) cream of tartar*
Salt and pepper to taste
* If you can’t find cream of tartar, a dash (~ ½ tsp) of lemon juice can be substituted

Directions:

1. Butter the soufflé dish(es) thoroughly, then grate a small amount of cheese in each dish and tap so that the sides are evenly coated with the cheese. Place the dish(es) in the refrigerator until needed (according to some sites, this helps the soufflé climb).
2. Preheat the oven to moderate 350º F / 180º C / gas mark 4
3. Wash and chop the watercress if you haven’t already.
4. Finely grate the parmesan cheese
5. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook 1 minute, then add the milk, a little at a time, and stir until just thickened, about 1 minute. Add the cheese and stir until it’s just melted. Remove from heat then add the watercress and salt and pepper.
6. In a larger pan, bring water to a gentle simmer. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl set just over this water until pale and slightly foamy – about 6 minutes. (I held the bowl just above the simmering water to be sure I didn’t cook the eggs)
7. Mix the egg yolks into the watercress sauce.
8. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks yet are still glossy.
9. Fold the egg whites into the sauce in 3 additions so that it’s evenly mixed, but you don’t lose too much volume.
10. Remove the soufflé dish from the refrigerator and spoon the mix into it. Use a spatula to even the tops of the soufflés and wipe off any spills.
11. Bake 25 minutes for small dishes or 40 minutes if using a large soufflé dish, then serve immediately.

Crab and Artichoke Soufflé

A Monkeyshines in the Kitchen recipe

Ingredients

1 cup (250 ml) 4 oz/120g crab meat, flaked and lightly-packed
½ cup (125 ml) 2 oz/60 g finely chopped cooked artichoke hearts (frozen, fresh or from a jar is OK, but please don’t use the marinated-in-oil style), Alternatively, lightly sautéed leeks would be nice here too.
2 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites
½ tsp (2½ ml) (3 gm) (.1 oz) salt
¼ tsp (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) (0.05 oz) cream of tartar*
1 cup (250 ml) 2 ½ oz (75g) Gruyere cheese, shredded
½ tsp (2½ ml) (2 gm) (0.07 oz) white pepper
1 Tbsp (15 ml) (14 gm) (½ oz) butter
1 Tbsp (15 ml) (9 gm) (1/3 oz) flour
1 tsp (5 ml) (3 gm) (.1 oz) dried chives or tarragon
1 cup 8 fluid oz (250ml) milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional butter and bread crumbs for preparing the dishes
* If you can’t find cream of tartar, a dash (~ ½ tsp) of lemon juice can be substituted

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to moderate 375 ˚F/190 ˚C/gas mark 5
2. Prepare dishes – you can use one 2-quart (US)/1.9 litre or six 1-cup/240 ml soufflé dishes – by buttering the dish, then coating with bread crumbs. (You may have some left over soufflé mixture if you go with the smaller soufflé dishes.)
3. Chop the artichoke hearts into ¼”/0.5cm dice. If you use frozen or from a jar, then there’s no need to cook them. If you are using fresh, then steam gently until just softened, about 5 minutes or sauté over low heat until just ever so lightly browned.
4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then stir in the flour to make a roux. – you just want to get the flour evenly blended to a paste, not cook the roux for any length of time. Gradually stir in the milk, mixing all the time. Add herbs, then the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and you have a thick sauce. Remove from heat.
5. Beat the egg yolks well and gently warm them, either according to the instructions for watercress soufflé (above) or by adding some of the cheese sauce. Gradually stir the egg yolks into the cheese sauce until well blended.
6. Add the artichoke and flaked crab meat to the cheese sauce.
7. Beat the egg whites until at the stiff peak stage
8. Fold the whites in thirds into the sauce.
9. Spoon the mixture into your baking dish and level the tops using a spatula. Be sure to wipe up any spills and make sure the edge is clean.
10. Bake for 40 min if you’re using a large soufflé dish or 25 min if using smaller dishes – the soufflé should be richly browned.

Additional Information:
http://www.baking911.com/howto/souffle.htm
http://uktv.co.uk/food/stepbystep/aid/590377
http://britishfood.about.com/od/toptips/qt/souffle.htm
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19004631
http://www.ehow.com/how_2282379_make-perfect-souffle.html
Classic video of Julia Child making a soufflé (and she adds a collar)
Mark Bittman’s chocolate souffle (We think you can make yours puff up more than his!)

Monkeyshines
Chocolate Soufflé: BBC Good Food
Chocolate Soufflé: Gordon Ramsay / Watercress and Crab & Artichoke: Dave & Linda of Monkeyshines in the Kitchen
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