Double-baked Cheese Soufflé

When I want to impress my better half this is top on the list.  Cheese Soufflé is the ultimate dish for cheese lovers and it is definitely one of those courses that will impress your diner guest guaranteed. A Soufflé is a delicate dish with a reputation of notoriously difficult to get right.  Don’t be frightened, Soufflés are actually not as difficult as you might think as long as you take time and be accurate. In this recipe I will give you an extensive step by step guide, complete with pictures of what the result of each step should look like. Make sure you have your piece and quite in the kitchen, send the kids to their room and turn of the TV, making a Soufflé is serious business. Get your timing right, plan ahead. The brilliance about a double baked Soufflé is that you can prepare them ahead, without your guest lurking over you. And still have the wow factor.

A Soufflé is a baked egg-based dish which originated in early eighteenth century France. The first record of its appearance is attributed to early 1700s French cook Vincent de la Chappelle, who among other European dignitaries cooked for Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV.

A Soufflé has two main components, a flavourful base and beaten egg whites, gently folded together just before baking. The word itself comes from “souffler,” meaning “to puff,” which is what egg whites do as soon as you put them in a pre-heated oven. Soufles are found all over France, every region has it’s own version, you will find roquefort cheese popular in Roquefort, kirsch in Alsace and in the Provence they prefer goat cheese.

Who connected us?!  My sons soccer coach Cameron Johnston, previous Head Chef at Balmorals Bathers Pavilion and now at Jonas in Whale Beach had his own French restaurant for a few years where I and especially my wife were blown away by the grandeur of this French dish.

Makes: 2 Soufflés | Preparation: 20 min | 1st bake 30 minutes | 2nd bake 20 minutes

DSC02438

Ingredients

  • Flour, 40g
  • Butter, 40g
  • Butter extra for moulds
  • Flour extra for moulds
  • Milk, 190ml
  • 2 Eggs, each 60-70g
  • Gruyere, 100g
  • Pouring cream, 200ml
  • Salt, 1 pinch

 

Preparation

  • DSC02465Butter and flour 2 moulds of 200ml, put them on a heatproof tray.
  • Measure all ingredients, separate the eggs, grate the gruyere and divide in 2 portions of 50g each.
  • Preheat the oven on 180°C, conventional setting.
  • Get a kettle ready with hot water, you need this when you put the Soufflés in the oven

First bake

  1. Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add flour and keep stirring until the flour gets a sandy colour. This takes a few minutes.
  2. Gradually add milk, beating continuously until all milk is incorporated and the roux is smooth. Stir for a few more minutes until the roux has thickened.
  3. Add 50g Gruyere, stir until combined, remove from heat and stand to cool slightly.
  4. Stir in the egg yolks until combined.
  5. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside. After these first 5 steps you end up with a thick, glossy combination that is best to stir with a spatula.
  6. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form.
  7. Take a third of the egg white and fold into the Gruyere mixture (which should now have cooled down until a temperature where you can touch it)
  8. Fold the Gruyere mixture into the egg white. Don’t over stir it, because it needs to stay fluffy, full of air.
  9. Fill the moulds with the mixture. Tap the moulds a few times on the bench and then flatten the mixture. This ensures the Soufflé to rise evenly.
  10. Put the moulds onto the roasting pan.
  11. Put the roasting pan on the rack in the oven and the fill the pan with the hot water until halfway to the sides of the moulds.
  12. Bake the Soufflés for around 25 minutes, until golden. You can see them rise after a few minutes.
  13. Take the moulds out of the oven, don’t burn your fingers on the hot water, I use tongs.
  14. Cool the Soufflés for about 10 minutes, they will deflate a bit, but don’t worry, they will be light and airy.
  15. Run a small knife around sides of moulds and turn out onto a tray lined with baking paper. Cover and refrigerate until required. If you put the Soufflés in an airtight container they will keep for 2 days. 

 

Second bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional setting.
  2. Place the Soufflés on a heatproof bowl and pour over cream, about 100ml each Soufflé.
  3. Scatter the remaining Gruyere over the Soufflés, about 25g each.
  4. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden. This second bake is only to warm up the Soufflés and to meld the cheese and give the Soufflés a golden crispy cover. The Soufflés might rise a little again, but not necessarily. The Soufflés are already baked, so don’t worry about timing to much as long as they look good.
  5. Warn your guest for the hot plate! Serve immediately.

Notes:

Sandy colour:  When you add the flour to the butter you cook this until the mixture gets a sandy colour. You cook the flour to lose its floury taste.

Lumps: If you get lumps in the roux (the butter and flour mixture) while you add the milk keep stirring until all warms up and it should be smooth again.

Single baked: I prefer to have a double baked Soufflé because you do all the hard work beforehand without your guest lurking over you. But you could serve the Soufflé after the first bake if you like. Just add all the cheese to the mixture in step 3.  You serve them in the ramekins straight after your soufflé comes out of the oven. Remember they will deflate a bit so serve them quickly for the best wow factor.

Scrambled eggs: Let the gruyere mixture cool a bit before adding the egg yolks otherwise you get a scrambled egg mixture.

Cheese to your liking: In this recipe I have used Gruyere cheese, but I often use other types of cheeses. Pick the cheese you like most as long as it is a tasty cheese. You can use a Cheddar, Parmesan or combination or even go for a blue cheese.

Dessert or main?: Cheese Soufflés can be served as a dessert, which I mostly do or as a main with a nice salad and maybe some fresh bread to scope out all the melted cheese.

Light, lighter……lightest: In general sweet Soufflés are lighter and more airy then the savoury varieties. This is because the base of a savoury Soufflé like this cheesy one is sturdier than that of a regular Soufflé. This robustness makes it even better to withstand being taken out of the ramekin, left to sit for any number of hours and then baked again..

Eggs at room temperature: You should store your eggs outside the fridge anyway, but if you don’t, let the eggs get to room temperature before use. Cold eggs are harder to whip and won’t lift as much.

Over-folding: Gently fold the egg-white into the mixture until the white streaks disappear. When you fold to much or especially stirring, you will lose the air and the Soufflé will not rise properly.

Bottom: Depending on the quality of your oven, a trick to increase the chance of your Soufflé to rise properly is to put it on the lowest rack of your oven.

Saving: You can keep these cheese Soufflés in the fridge for up to 2 days after the first bake. It is best to put them in an air tide container.

 

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