Souffles seem to be shrouded in mystery and admonishments; “Don’t walk near the oven while baking”, “Speak in hushed whispers, if at all”, “Never, ever, open the oven door while baking!”, and so on. The following recipe and technique will help you call ‘bullshit’ on those ideas, and allow you to continue blaring your Kings of Leon album while you’re baking.
This recipe is brought to us by Chef Louise Duhamel (hi chef!) and my friends at www.lickmyspoon.com (hi steph and hua!). A quick calculation shows me that I must have produced this recipe over 100 times during my time with Chef, teaching dozens of students how to make it. And the Cypress Grove cheeses which inspired me to make this version were a gift from Stephanie and David after a long and well fought battle at this years’ Fancy Food Show.
The best thing about this “Swiss Style” souffle is that you can make it in advance, and then re-bake it to serve.
Soufflés a la Suisse
Here’s what you’ll need
- 6 oz butter (melted) plus more (4 oz) for buttering dishes
- 6 oz AP flour
- 1.5 cups cream
- 4.5 cups whole milk
- 12 oz cheese
- 12 eggs (separated)
- 2 cups bread crumbs or grated dry cheese (like Parmesan) for coating dishes
- 2 quarts or more of water for water bath
- Salt, pepper, nutmeg, all to taste
Souffle is a pretty straightforward technique. The two items that will ensure your success are; proper planning, and pretty much non-stop execution. So turn that oven to 400 degrees and follow the pictures below!
Get all of your ingredients together.
Butter some ramekins really well. Then coat them with the dry cheese, or bread crumbs. Smaller, straight sided dishes work best, but I’ve also baked this in large pans with good results. You’ll be baking these in a water bath, so make sure they fit into another, larger pan that can hold water up to 1/2 the height of the dishes. 🙂
Separate your eggs. I like to use this 3-bowl method. I separate three or four whites at a time into the smaller (white) bowl, and them dump them into the bigger (red) one. That way, if I mess up some whites, I don’t screw up the whole batch of whites, just a couple.
Measure out the butter and start to melt it.
Measure out the flour.
Measure out the cheese.
Once the butter has melted, whisk in all of the flour at once. Thus begins the roux. Keep the heat on a medium-low setting and keep an eye on it. Whisk regularly.
This recipe asks for a blonde roux, which cooks for about four minutes, and should look like this as it cooks.
Loosening a little.
More bubbles and kind of mealy looking is where we stop cooking.
Whisk in the dairy, and continue whisking through the thickening process.
You’ll see the mixture start holding to the sides of the pot.
And then it will thicken to a heavy paste-like consistency. Make certain that the mixture comes to a boil, and then let it simmer for about 3 minutes, while whisking.
Then, pour this hot mixture over the goat cheese, and whisk it all together. Conversely, if you were using a firm cheese (cheddar, smoked Gouda, etc.), you would want to add the cheese to the pot while on the heat to melt the cheese well.
NOTE: If you need to stop for a coffee, or text message break, this is your chance! You will need to let the mixture cool a little before you continue. When you come back, make sure the oven is ready with a rack in the lowest setting, make sure the water is simmering, and get ready to proceed.
Season the mixture with salt, pepper, nutmeg, (cayenne?!) or other appropriate garnish. Remember to over-season slightly. The last step is the incorporation of egg whites which will not be seasoned, and which will expand your base two fold. For each future bite to be tasty, you must correct the seasoning now.
Once the mixture is only warm (not hot) whisk in the egg yolks all at once until well combined. If you are worried that the mixture is still hot, but you want to get on with it, temper (by slowly whisking) some (up to half) of the hot mixture into the yolks, and and then whisk the egg-batter into the remaining dairy batter.
Start whipping the egg whites. We’re going for a soft peak egg white. There’s a little science here, and it’s worth thinking about. If you over-whip the whites (stiff peak, or -gasp- dry) the souffle won’t rise as much as it could.
Temper in 1/3 of the egg whites into the dairy/cheese mixture. (Then finish with the rest of the whites.) Fold the whites in pretty gently. The first step will lighten the batter so that you don’t have to work as hard to incorporate the remaining 2/3 of whites, and they will have a greater chance of retaining their captured air.
Ladle this fluffy mixture into your buttered/crumbed(cheesed?) dishes, leaving 1/4″-1/2″ room from the top. Then, carefully pour the simmering water into the pan(s), covering the souffle dishes by 1/3 up to 1/2. Pop these pans into the preheated oven on the lowest rack and bake. The time will depend on the size of your baking dishes and other variables. Check them after 15 minutes and then every 3-4 minutes.
Here’s how they should look when they are done. Nice and golden, about double in height. Whether you will eat them now or later, take a paring knife and carefully run it around the outside of the dish, to loosen the souffle. If you want to eat these right away, go for it. They are great right from the oven. If you want to use them another day proceed with the following:
Remove from the oven, and let them sit for five minutes in the water bath. Then, remove from the pans, and allow them to cool somewhat. As soon as you can handle them (even with a kitchen towel), un-mold the souffles, and set them upright on a wire rack to cool further. Once they are about room temperature, they can be refrigerated for future use (well wrapped, on in an airtight container).
To bake for “Twice Baked’ goodness:
- Allow the little guys to come to room temperature (or give them a short zap in the microwave, you can pronounce it Meek-row-wave if you want it to sound fancy).
- Brush (or pour) a little cream (or half and half, or just plain milk) on the top.
- Place souffle on a piece of parchment or little square of aluminum foil, or a small oven safe dish.
- Pop them into a 350-400 degree oven until the souffle has re-risen well, and has reached 140 degrees internal temperature (check with thermometer or by feeling the warmth of a knife blade inserted into the middle of the souffle)
Once the souffle has reached the right temperature, serve it with a little salad, or some fresh fruit, or whatever sounds good to you.
If you don’t have little ramekins, use an oven safe baking dish like this one. When you un-mold the souffle, cut it into servings and proceed with storing and re-baking steps.
We ate this goat cheese number with a green apple salad and walnut vinaigrette. This recipe makes quite a few souffles, depending on the size of your dishes, so feel free do reduce it by half. Or just bake a whole bunch of them. They don’t stay in the refrigerator for very long because they are just right for every meal of the day. I hope you find this recipe to be a fun one. I know that I really enjoy the process and the results. The twice baked version has a light and fluffy interior along with a slightly crisp and caramelized top, which is a great combination in both the flavor and texture categories. Have fun with this one, and let me know if I can help!