This recipe is from the gem of a book, Homecooked Favourite Recipes from Australian Kitchens, an ABC publication. The recipe was contributed by Lois Benson from Tewantin, Queensland. It is, presumptuously, entitled Never-fail Cheese Soufflé. This was my third attempt – need I say more? Soufflés are very simple to make but to get them to be spectacular, one needs a few skills up one’s sleeve.
Colette was coming down one weekend and she asked me what we were having for dinner. I told her that I was going to try to make a soufflé. As it happened, her colleague, David, was also going to make a soufflé that weekend. Colette has a bit of a competitive streak so she decided her soufflé was going to be better than Dave’s (later to be coined Soufflé Dave).
That night, the soufflé certainly looked the part. Colette whizzed out her phone, took a photo and sent it off to Soufflé Dave to show off her skills but …. when we dug in, the bottom wasn’t cooked (we didn’t tell Dave that bit). I looked at the recipe, again, to try to work out what could have gone wrong. The recipe said to stand the soufflé dish in a baking dish half full of water, which I did, but then thought, maybe it should have been boiling water ….. next time.
The next time Colette came down, I suggested we try again. We remembered to put the bowl in boiling water this time (and that worked, it was cooked) but the soufflé didn’t rise.
The first time, we coated the bowl in melted butter and breadcrumbs but this time we coated it in Parmesan. Maybe that was the problem …
Also, Colette, a whiz kid when it comes to pavlovas, made me beat the egg whites firmer than the first time. Maybe that was the problem….
Colette came this weekend and I told her we were trying, again. This time, the never-fail cheese soufflé was perfect. So Soufflé Dave, where is yours?
Things we have learned along the way:
It is important that the egg whites are not too soft or the soufflé will not rise nor too stiff because they will not mix into the base well and the cooked soufflé will contain blobs of white egg.
Prepare your soufflé dish. Brush the inside of the soufflé dish with melted butter, then coat it evenly with dry breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs create a rough coating which allows the soufflé to rise. Add a collar by cutting a sheet of baking paper longer than the perimeter of the dish, fold the paper in half lengthways to a form a double layer and place the paper strip around the outside of the dish so that it projects about 5cm above the rim, then secure it with string.
When cooking the soufflé, place the soufflé dish in a baking dish and then pour boiling water into the baking dish.
- 60g butter
- 35g plain flour
- 1½ cups (375 ml) milk
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 cups (250g) grated cheese (we used Cheddar; the recipe doesn’t specify any particular variety)
- 6 eggs, separated
- Put the butter in a saucepan and melt it over a low heat.
- When melted, add the flour, stir until smooth and then cook for a minute or two.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and slowly add the milk, stirring all the while.
- Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until the sauce begins to bubble. Take it off the heat and add salt, pepper and cheese. Stir until the sauce and cheese is combined and the cheese melted.
- Beat the egg yolks. Put a little of the cheese sauce into the eggs. Mix well and then slowly add the egg mixture to the sauce, stirring all the while. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C.
- Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form but not too stiff (see hint).
- Gently fold egg whites into sauce, a little at a time.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish. (For this recipe, you will need a 2 litre dish.) With a sharp knife, cut through the mixture about 2.5cm from the side all around the bowl.
- Put the dish into a baking dish half full with boiling water and bake for 1 – 1 ¼ hours, until well risen and golden brown on top.
- Serve immediately.