Some say the soufflé is back. Others say it never went away. The classic savoury soufflé is a masterpiece of light-as-air pillows of baked whipped egg whites held high with a flourbased sauce.
The soufflé continues to impress in the hospitality sphere as it is not a dish
most people try at home. From twice-baked gruyère soufflés to bitter-sweet dark chocolate and sour cherry soufflés, these light and fluffy dishes are going to be big this winter.
The most important ingredient for a perfect soufflé is air. As the soufflé heats in the oven, the air inside the mixture expands but is trapped by the hardening flour in the sauce. So when making a soufflé the objective is to get as much air into the beaten egg whites and keep it in there. Make sure that not a molecule of egg yolk gets into the whites as this stops them from foaming.
A soufflé is only as good as its raw ingredients. Use good quality eggs but not eggs straight from the chooks. The whites will whip better if the eggs are at least a few days old. Some chefs add a pinch of salt halfway through beating the egg whites so they hold their shape.
Buttering the soufflé dish is essential. Make sure the butter is soft and use long straight strokes that run up the dish from the bottom to the rim. This helps the soufflé rise up. Dust the interior with caster sugar and a little
cocoa. Rolling it around helps it stick to the edges but not clump or get too thick.
If it is necessary to make a collar, wrap a double layer of baking paper around the outside of the dish and secure with string. Spraying the paper with non-stick kitchen spray will stop the soufflé from sticking to the paper.
The sauce needs to be warm enough to fold through the egg whites but not hot enough to set the egg yolks. If you have a thermometer check to see if the sauce is under 60°C, then you’re right to go.
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Using the whisk, add a small amount of the egg whites to the base and whisk through briskly, sacrificing the air to loosen up the base. Now, using a spatula, take a quarter of the whites and fold this through gently to lighten the mixture. Pour this mixture over the remaining beaten whites and ever so carefully fold this mixture from bottom to top.
Fruits like dried cherry can be dusted in a little cocoa before being folded through the mix. This helps to stop them from sinking during cooking.
Soufflés can be temperamental so be gentle even when placing in the middle shelf of the oven preheated to 180°C – and close the door gently! Cook for 30 minutes or as directed on the recipe and test when done with a skewer. If it comes out very moist, then it needs more time. If it comes out completely dry, it could be overdone!
As seen in winter 2021