Sometimes we want to make the perfect souffle, but it does always turn out to make the impression. The perfect souffle should be puffy, light and look good. No. look great. At times you put in a lot of time, energy and emotion into making a souffle. And it disappoints you by failing to rise to the occasion.
Savoury or sweet, it turns out the secret is how you handle the egg white and the egg yolk.
When making the mixture, do not forget to use a large saucepan, so it will be easy to add in the egg yolk and the beaten white of egg. The eggs have to be very fresh or the souffle will not rise properly.
Sometimes with fresh eggs, the white, when beaten and starting to stiffen, might separate. If this happens add a level soup spoon of caster sugar for four eggs or a pinch of salt.
Do not add the beaten egg white all at once; using a spatula stir a large spoonful of it into the mixture, using an under and over cutting rotation (or motion) rather than a stirring one, in order not to get rid of the tiny air bubbles in the egg white. Those bubbles will expand with the heat and make our souffle rise. Then add remaining egg white as delicately as before. After smoothing the surface of the soufflé with the blade of a knife, push the mixture away from the edge of the dish with your finger; it will help the souffle to rise.
Small soufflés are easier to make than large ones, so use two dishes instead of one. Fill the dishes no more than three-quarters full. Start the cooking on a hotplate for two minutes and warm the dish first. If the mixture is already warm, a savoury soufflé will cook much more quickly.
A souffle ready to cook in the soufflé dish can be kept covered in the refrigerator up to four hours before baking.
To make a soufflé rise quicker, place a flat baking tray in the oven on the middle rack before preheating the oven. When the right temperature is reached, place the soufflé dish on top of the baking tray.
When it is in the oven, from time to time give a half swirl to the soufflé dish, quickly so as not to keep the oven open for too long.
How to tell when your souffle is ready
A soufflé is ready when it has increased by half, or even two-thirds, in volume, above the rim of the dish. (A thick soufflé made of vegetable purée will never rise as much as a light one, e.g. cheese souffle.)
When the top surface is brown, when shaken it should not quake all over. If it still wobbles in the middle it is cooked for those who like a soft souffle; for a firm one leave it in the oven for another two or three minutes.
A souffle should be served straight away from the oven no waiting; it should be served with two spoons to break the crust and reach the centre to get some of the soft parts.
The best cheese to use is Parmesan or gruyére. After greasing the bottom and side of your soufflé dish with butter, sprinkle some grated cheese (one tablespoon) evenly on the bottom and side of the dish.
Do not make a ‘roux‘ (butter and flour mixture) but boil the milk then cool it off slightly. When Cool, add small quantities at a time to the flour in a pan until you get a smooth mixture without curds; season (salt, pepper, nutmeg) and heat until the sauce comes to the boil, stirring constantly. When slightly bubblin remove from heat and add cheese, butter and yolks (the yolks previously diluted with a tablespoon of cold milk).
Ham soufflé / Fish soufflé / Shellfish soufflé / Chicken soufflé
Pound the Ham, Fish, Shellfish or Chicken in a mortar then pass it through a fine sieve before using it for the mixture.
The best fruits for this kind of soufflé are apricots, pineapple, strawberries, melon and redcurrants (raw and well-ripened).
For the fruit souffle, cook the sugar syrup to the soft crack, 138°C/280°F. To recognize this, stop the cooking then drop a little syrup into iced water. Next, remove it and stretch it gently between your fingers. If the syrup separates into strands which are hard but elastic, then it has reached the soft-crack stage.
When the sugar is ready, add the fruit purée. It might get the sugar back below the hardball stage, so it must be recooked to the soft crack again. It is important to use some lumps of sugar which have been rubbed against the skin of an orange or a lemon to bring out the flavour of the fruits used.
You could add to the soufflé two coffee spoons of your favourite alcohol (rum, Kirsch, etc.); this should be added to the whites of eggs.