How to make a Souffle. Includes recipes for cheese and Amaretto souffle.

souffle
A soufflé is a light and fluffy sweet or savoury dish, principally made from eggs and a particular flavouring.

The soufflé is made up of two parts: the first is the base, which if savoury, is a thick flavoured white sauce, made from flour, butter and milk. To this base, egg yolks are added for consistency and then stiffly whisked egg whites are folded into the mixture. The egg whites give the dish their light and airy texture and cause the soufflé to rise during cooking.

For sweet soufflés, a custard style base is made with sweet ingredients to which the stiffly whisked egg whites are then added.

The soufflés are then poured into individual ramekins or a larger round soufflé dish and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes.

The tricky part of preparing soufflés is getting the cooking timing exactly right. For a start, the oven door must never be opened whilst the soufflé is baking, as this will cause the soufflé to immediately deflate. The soufflé should rise several inches above the dish during cooking and the crust will become browned and crisp on the outside.
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If the soufflé does not spend enough time in the oven and is removed before it has been cooked properly, it will deflate quite soon after being taken out of the oven.

On the other hand, overcooking the soufflé will have the same effect and the air bubbles will burst, causing the soufflé to collapse. As you can see the timing has to be perfect.

The way in which the soufflé dish is prepared also has an effect of how the soufflé will turn out. Well-greased and lined dishes will ensure that the soufflé rises evenly, giving a more aesthetic presentation.

For sweet soufflés rub soft butter onto the bottom and sides of the soufflé dish and then line with caster sugar.

For savoury soufflés, line the dish or ramekins with butter and then breadcrumbs or flour.

Take care when placing the soufflé into the oven. The soufflé dish should not sit too near the top of the oven or too near to the rack above. Do not place them directly onto the bottom of the oven either, as this may cause the base of the soufflé to burn.

The final point to remember is that all soufflés deflate shortly after being removed from the oven, therefore they should be served immediately and all guests should be seated and ready to eat before the soufflé is brought to the table.

Soufflés may come in all sorts of flavours and tastes, including cheese, ham, lobster, chocolate, lemon and caramel, and below we offer one sweet dish and another savoury for you to try at home.

Cheese Souffle Recipe

Ingredients
  • 6 egg whites
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 oz of grated cheese (Cheddar, Gruyere, Stilton)
  • ¾ oz (20 g) of butter
  • ¾ oz (20 g) of plain flour
  • ½ pint (300 ml) of milk
  • 2 tsp of Dijon mustard (optional)
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
Method
  1. Separate the eggs as soon as you remove them from the refrigerator (see our section on how to separate an egg).
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C.
  3. Grease and line a 2½ pint soufflé dish with butter and breadcrumbs.
  4. Make the white sauce by melting the butter on a gentle heat in a medium sized saucepan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour until a thick paste has formed.
  6. Add the milk, a little at a time and stir constantly with a whisk.
  7. Whisk in the remaining milk and then whilst stirring continuously, bring the mixture to the boil.
  8. As the sauce starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper, grated nutmeg and mustard (optional).
  9. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolks and the grated cheese. Mix the ingredients thoroughly.
  10. In a separate bowl, whisk the 6 egg whites until stiff peaks have formed. Do not use a plastic bowl; a copper or glass bowl is best. If you do not have a copper bowl, add a pinch of cream of tarter once soft peaks have started to form.
  11. Using a metal spoon or a rubber spatula, stir in ¼ of the egg whites into the cheese sauce base.
  12. Fold the remaining whisked egg whites into the cheese mixture.
  13. Transfer the soufflé mixture into the prepared soufflé dish, taking care not to overfill the dish, and bake in the hot oven for between 20 - 25 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown in colour.
  14. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
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Amaretto Souffle Recipe

Ingredients
  • 8 fl oz (225 ml) of milk
  • 5 egg whites
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 7 tbsp of caster sugar
  • 6 crushed amaretti biscuits
  • 6 tbsp of Amaretto liqueur
  • icing sugar to decorate
  • pinch of cream of tartar if not using a copper bowl for egg whites

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C and grease a 2½ pint soufflé dish with butter, then line with sugar.
  2. Place the crushed amaretti biscuits in a small bowl and pour 2 tbsp of the Amaretto liqueur over them. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl blend together the 4 egg yolks, 2 tbsp of the caster sugar and the flour.
  4. In the meantime, heat the milk in a saucepan just until it begins to boil and then stir gradually into the egg yolk mixture.
  5. Transfer this liquid back into the saucepan and simmer gently, stirring continuously, over a medium heat until the mixture starts to thicken.
  6. Stir in the remainder of the Amaretto liqueur. Remove from the heat.
  7. In a copper or glass bowl, whisk the 5 egg whites until soft peaks form. Whisk in the remaining sugar, 1 tbsp at a time and continue to whisk until the egg whites stand in stiff peaks and hold their form.
  8. Stir ¼ of the whisked egg whites into the milk mixture with a metal spoon or a rubber spatula.
  9. Carefully fold the remainder of the egg whites into this mixture, turning the mixture over and over.
  10. Transfer half of the mixture into the greased soufflé dish, cover with the amaretti biscuits and finish off with the rest of the egg white mixture.
  11. Place the soufflé dish into the preheated hot oven and bake for 20 minutes until the soufflé has risen 2 inches above the dish and is crisp and golden brown on top.
  12. Remove from the oven and dust with the icing sugar. Serve immediately with a little cream or ice cream on the side.



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