I totally get it now, all of that shushing that happens once people put a soufflé in the oven and, more gently than they ever have before, close the door. Once you fold those very delicate whites into that heavier, thick cheese batter, you wonder how this thing is ever going to rise. If, like me, you spent the last ten minutes straight whisking your heart out to get those egg whites firm, and your arm is still vibrating though you can barely feel the rest of your body, you are not going to let anyone mess this up. I snapped “no hard-walking!” in the most viscious whisper at James as he galavanted into the kitchen. Hard-walking? I was like a cagey raccoon mama in front of that oven door.
And then it rose. Quickly. They do grow up so fast.
My heart swelled with pride. I was in complete awe when I pulled out my first homemade soufflé. My expectations were high. My only real experience with soufflés came at dinner, in Paris, in a restaurant where they basically only make soufflés. Yeah, way to set the bar a little high. But the papery crust opened just the same way, the spoonable filling had just the right firmness and just the right creaminess. It couldn’t have looked or felt like the real deal any more. It was delicious too, made just as Simon Hopkinson suggests in this recipe, but I do think I’d experiment with some different cheeses next time. You do need something as nippy as cheddar, I just want to find a strong cheese that I like just as much and cut the cheddar amount with it. And then maybe try to make a blue cheese soufflé. One day. When I work up the nerve to raise another one again.
YS note: I used white cheddar to keep the colour of the soufflé light inside. My soufflé rose quickly and browned quickly. I took mine out after 27 minutes, so keep an eye on yours after the 25-minute mark. I think this would serve 4 with a crispy, vinegary salad on the side.
2½ tablespoons butter, plus extra to butter the dish
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup (scant) low fat milk
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1¼ cups grated sharp Cheddar
¼ cup grated Gruyere
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little extra to finish
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Thoroughly butter a 7-inch diameter souffle dish, about 3 inches deep.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the flour. Cook together for a couple of minutes to make a roux, then gradually whisk in the milk until a smooth, very thick sauce is achieved. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly for a couple of minutes, then add the egg yolks one by one, beating them in thoroughly. Stir in the grated cheeses and season with salt and the cayenne. Pour into a roomy bowl, removing every last vestige of the mixture with a rubber spatula.
Whisk the egg whites in another bowl until firm. Stir a small amount into the cheese mixture to slacken it, then deftly fold in the rest of the whites, using a serving spoon or spatula.
Gently pile the mixture into the buttered souffle dish and sprinkle the surface with extra Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until well risen, and golden and crusted on the surface.