Soufflés can strike fear into the most accomplished cook, but follow our step-by-step guide and once you know the rules, they’ll rise to the occasion every time.
Preparing the dishes
Coating the ramekins or soufflé dish in fine breadcrumbs is very important as it gives the soufflé something to ‘climb’, helping it to rise well and preventing it from sinking. You could also use grated Parmesan.
Making the souffle base
Melt the butter in the pan, add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes to stop the flour from tasting raw and to give it a lovely nutty flavour. Gradually stir in the milk, to prevent lumps from forming, then allow the mixture to boil for a good few minutes, until it becomes really thick and comes away from the sides of the pan.
Stirring in the flavours
Adding the eggs with the pan off the heat prevents them from cooking too much too soon. The residual heat will be enough to melt the cheese. Make sure you season your soufflé mixture really well at this stage for the best flavour.
Whisking the egg whites
Always use a clean, grease-free bowl for whisking egg whites, and make sure the whites have no trace of egg yolk in them. Whisk them until they are holding stiff peaks – if they are under-whisked, your soufflé won’t rise in the oven and will collapse much faster.
Add a quarter of the whisked egg whites and stir them into the soufflé base mixture to loosen it and make it easier to then gently fold into the remaining whites. Be very careful – you want to keep as much air in your soufflé mixture as possible, which will allow it to have the best rise and the fluffiest texture.
Running your finger around the top edge of the ramekin just inside the rim gives a ‘top hat’ effect and should help your soufflé to rise up nice and straight.
- Preheat your baking sheet or tray – this heats the base of the soufflés so they start rising as soon as you put them in the oven.
- Resist the temptation to open the oven door to check on your soufflé. If you have to look, open the oven door a crack and take a really quick peek.
- To check your soufflé is cooked, give the dish a small shove – the soufflé should have a very slight wobble to it.
- The ideal soufflé should have a centre that is still tiny bit gooey.
What went wrong?
Cook your soufflé straight away. Leaving the mixture to stand for any length of time will affect how much it rises. Also, don’t over-fold the mixture, or you’ll knock all the air out before it gets to the oven.