Soufflé is an egg-based dish made in two parts. You begin by making a cream or purée (sweet or savoury), then add the beaten egg whites to it. The egg makes the soufflé rise.
Use the right dish
Ramekins or soufflé dishes are traditionally used. These are straight and high edged to allow the dough to inflate and rise against the walls until the soufflé just peeks up satisfactorily over the edge. Soufflé dishes also make sure the overn heat is distributed evenly. Terracotta dishes are perfect because they combine diffused heat and maintain optimal heat.
Don’t forget that a soufflé will (yes, WILL) expand when it rises, so don’t fill up the whole of the dish (maybe ¾ otherwise it will overflow.
Beat your eggs properly
This step is the most important one.
- Use the right equipment: an electric whisk is very useful, except if you don't want armache.
- Whether your final dish is sweet or savoury, always add a pinch of salt to your egg whites before starting to whisk.
- Your eggs must be at room temperature.
- There should be no trace of egg yolk or fat in your whites.
- Finally, if you're using a whisk with several speeds, start with the medium and work up the settings gradually.
Your egg whites are firm when the whisk leaves marks in the peaks. You should be able to turn the bowl upside and the egg should not fall out (caution required!).
Don't open the oven
Never, ever, ever open the oven for the first 15 minutes of cooking time. Your soufflé will flatten from the temperature shock. Preheat the oven properly to minimise temperature changes.
Everyone has their special ‘trick’ for beautifully-risen soufflés. Here are some of the most effective:
- After pouring your mixture into the dish (up to ¾ full), run a wet knife along the walls. Your soufflé will rise better.
- Add a tablespoonful of cornflour to your egg white peaks.
- Your dish must be ultra clean.
- For a savoury soufflé, butter or oil the dish, then add flour and remove the excess by turning the dish upside down and hitting it. Butter the top of the dish again, on the edge that has been in contact with your work top, and then don’t touch it again (you don't want finger marks).
- If you're making sweet soufflés, butter your dish and do the same as for savoury soufflés (above) but use sugar instead of flour.
Finally, don’t forget the famous saying: guests wait for the soufflé, but the soufflé waits for no one! Soufflé should be eaten fresh out of the oven, pronto!
Road test our tips on these soufflé recipes!