Many people don’t make soufflés because they are scared of failure. In reality, making a soufflé is easy as pie. All you need to do is : make a base, fold in whipped egg whites, and bake. If you’re doing a sweet soufflé, maybe your base is Grand Marnier. If you’re doing a savory version, maybe your base is a version of a bechamel sauce, creamy with flecks of herbs. In this sense, the technique for most recipes is the same. Here are a few tips to make sure you succeed each and every time you set out to bake this light, airy treat.
- For Fail-Proof Meringue, Add Acid! This is not required by any means, but if you have trouble getting your egg whites or meringue to peak properly, you can always add a little lemon juice or cream of tartar to help strengthen the structure of the mixture.
- Don’t Overfold: The tendency with many people is to really whip the whites into the base mixture. This is a mistake. You want to gently fold in the whites only until the point where the streaks of white disappear. Until you do this a few times, you’ll probably feel as though you’re under-mixing. Chances are: you’re not.
- Use Fresh Room Temperature Eggs: Your eggs will act the way you want them to if they’re room temperature. Whipping cold eggs is harder work and you won’t get as much lift.
- Level off the Top of Your Soufflé With a Knife:You don’t have to do this, but you know that magical flat top that soufflés have when you order them at restaurants? That’s achieved with the swipe of a flat knife on the top of your souffle.
- Use the Bottom Oven Rack:Generally speaking (although each oven is certainly different), the bottom oven rack is what you want to use to achieve lift. So for anything light and airy that needs rise, bake on the bottom.
Weeknight Tip: Did you know that you can make a soufflé ahead of time and bake them off when you’re ready? This is a great party tip — make them the day before, cover and refrigerate them and take them to room temperature before you bake them off. They can be refrigerated for up 2 to 3 days.
Now Let’s Get Going… Here is my recipe for an awesome Cheese Soufflé
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 4 large eggs, separated, plus 3 large egg whites
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry
- 6 ounces (2 packed cups) Gruyère cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish and coat it with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour to make a paste. Gradually whisk in the cream and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking, until very thick, 3 minutes. Transfer the base to a large bowl; let cool. Stir in the egg yolks, sherry, Gruyère, sour cream, salt, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, cayenne and the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano.
- Put the 7 egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl. Add the cream of tartar. Using an electric mixer, beat the whites until firm peaks form. Fold one-third of the whites into the soufflé base to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared dish. Run your thumb around the inside rim of the dish to wipe away any crumbs. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the soufflé is golden brown and puffed. Serve right away.