Soufflé. Is there any other dish that is so iconic, yet so intimidating? I personally had never attempted to bake one, because I’d heard so many stories about the finicky dish falling and sinking. But when I discovered French Classics Made Easy by Richard Grausman, I knew I had to try to make a soufflé.
Butter and all-purpose flour, for soufflé mold
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1 Tbl water
3 Tbl all-purpose flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 oz swiss cheese (about 2/3 cup)
4 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1. Preheat the oven to 475F with the rack set in the lowest position. Liberally butter a 4-cup Soufflé mold and lightly dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks and water together in a small bowl. Add the 3 tablespoons flour to the yolks and blend until smooth.
3. Before the milk boils, stir about ¼ cup of it into the egg yolk mixture to thin it. When the remaining milk boils, add it and stir well.
4. Return the egg-milk mixture to the saucepan and whisk rapidly over medium-high heat, whisking the bottom and sides of the pan until the mixture thickens and boils, about 30 seconds. (Turning the pan as you whisk helps you easily reach all areas of the pan.) Continue to whisk vigorously for 1 minute while the soufflé base gently boils. It will become shiny and easier to stir.
5. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the soufflé base to simmer while you stir in the mustard, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the cheese and mix well until it melts completely and the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and cover.
6. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.
7. Pour the warm soufflé base into a large bowl. With a whisk, fold in one-third of the beaten egg whites to lighten it. Some egg white will still be visible. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining egg whites. Stop folding as soon as the mixture is blended; a little egg white may still be visible.
8. Pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared mold, leveling the surface with your spatula. If any of the batter touches the rim of the mold, run your thumb around the rim to clean it off.
9. Bake for 5 minutes. Lower the temperature to 425F and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. The soufflé should rise 1 ½ to 2 inches above the mold and brown lightly on the top. Serve immediately.
I followed the recipe to the letter. I even brought the eggs to room temperature, which isn’t mentioned in this recipe, but have been suggested by several other soufflé dishes. I left the oven alone and resisted peeking at the dish before time was up. However, when I opened the oven at the seven minute point, I saw that the soufflé was still white and had not risen totally. So I left it in for five minutes more.
Nope, not done. So I left it for an additional 5 minutes. Still not done. But the soufflé ’s peaks in the batter now started to burn. So I removed it from the oven, failing to get the lofty rise that you would expect from this dish.
So what happened? I’m not sure, but I’ve got some ideas. Thankfully, Grausman has a chart to help troubleshoot any failures. I’ve also compared his recipe to other soufflé recipes and found that many soufflé recipes have the batter bake at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.
Either way, I think that I’ve gotten over the intimidation factor, and plan on attempting a classic French soufflé again.