How to Make a Souffle
Simple Three-Cheese Souffle

Raise your hand if you've ever actually made a souffle. Yeah, me neither. Not until, that is, I took a class with Paule Caillat in Paris and realized what a cozy, simple, weeknight dish a souffle can be. It's really perfect for a fall night: an immensely satisfying dish of cheese and eggs, whipped into a melting cloud that sighs on your tongue. And it's easy -- not fussy, not too elusively French, as I had supposed it to be. Here's how to make a souffle -- why not whip one up tonight?

This recipe is the one I learned in Paule's class -- a simple 3-cheese souffle. It's very reliable; I've made it several times now, and it's delicious. Just look at that melting, savory bite! It's like a pudding or a cloud of cheese -- so warm and comforting on a cold evening.

Simple Three-Cheese Souffle Recipe

4 eggs (3 whole eggs, plus one egg white)

1/4 cup (50 grams) grated Comte cheese

2 tablespoons grated French Gruyere cheese

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, divided

6 tablespoons (50 grams) flour

3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) butter

1 1/2 cup (350 grams) milk

Salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne or Piment d'Espelette to taste

Butter and grated parmesan for the molds

Equipment:

1 1/2 to 2-quart oven-safe bowl or souffle dish

Saucepan

Wooden spoon

Large bowl

Stand mixer or handheld mixer

Large stiff spatula

Recipe Instructions

1. Separate the eggs into white and yolks. Put the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large clean bowl. Discard one yolk (you can refrigerate it for later use). Set the eggs aside. Turn your oven on to BROIL and move an oven rack to the bottom position.

2. Grate all the cheese into a bowl and set aside. Put about 1 tablespoon of Parmesan in a separate ramekin.

3. Butter your oven-safe bowl or souffle mold and sprinkle lightly with the reserved tablespoon of Parmesan. Set the mold aside.

4. Use the flour, butter and milk to make a bechamel sauce (white sauce). See sidebar "How To Make a Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce)."

5. Remove the finished béchamel from the heat and scrape it into a large bowl. Let it cool slightly, just so it's warm to the touch.

6. Stir in the egg yolks.

7. Stir in the grated cheese. Taste and add salt, pepper, and nutmeg or cayenne to taste.

8. Time to beat the egg whites! In the stand mixer, or using a handheld beater, beat the egg whites until they are quite stiff -- but not dry. If you tip the bowl, they shouldn't all slide out in one mass. But they should stand up stiffly if you pull the whisk straight up from the bowl.

9. Fold a spoonful of stiff egg whites into the batter, incorporating them thoroughly. The batter should lighten by one shade.

10. Now fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter. Spread them through the batter using a stiff spatula, running the spatula straight down the bottom of the bowl, then flipping the batter over.

The egg whites should be all mixed in, but there ought be some lumps of stiff egg white still visible.

Obviously, this is the most delicate part of the procedure; any small variations in stiffness of egg whites or how they are incorporated into the batter will affect the final outcome. But don't worry too much about it; the souffle will be delicious even if it doesn't rise as high as you would like it to!

11. Scrape the batter into the prepared mold.

12.The batter should fill the mold about halfway.

13. Place in the oven on the bottom rack and broil for 3 minutes. Without opening the oven door (really, don't do it!) turn the heat down to 400 F and continue baking for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

14. While the souffle is baking, make sure the table is set and your guests are ready! As soon as the souffle is out of the oven, serve and enjoy! As you can see, the souffle pictured didn't rise as much as I would have liked, but it was still that melting cheesy cloud inside. (I think I may have overbeaten the whites slightly, or folded them in too firmly. I also forgot to bake this particular souffle on the bottom rack. Nonetheless, it was still absolutely delicious. It's not all about the puff!)

Additional Notes:

-- Make sure to wipe up any drips on the inside of the souffle dish as you pour in the batter. They'll hold the souffle back from rising properly as they harden in the oven.

-- Any additional ingredients in a souffle will inhibit its rise as well; be careful with adding other ingredients. Also, any other ingredients (meat, seafood, mushrooms, etc.) should be cooked before adding to a souffle.

Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce)

50 grams (about 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

50 grams (3 1/2 tablespoons) flour

1 1/2 cups (about 350 grams) milk

1. Measure out the butter, flour and milk. (Note: There is quite a lot of room for adjustment in the quantity of milk. For a very thick, sticky béchamel use about 1 1/2 cups. For a much looser, more liquid sauce, use 2 1/2 cups or even more, to get the consistency you want. Also, the more fat in the milk, the thicker the sauce will be.)

Warm the milk in a separate saucepan or in the microwave and set aside.

2. Place the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and melt it completely, but do not let it brown.

3. Dump in the flour and stir it quickly into the butter.

4. As you can see in the photo, the butter and flour will be a mixture of wet scrambled eggs at first.

5. Cook and stir the flour-butter mixture over medium heat for about 5 to 8 minutes. The butter and flour will dry out slightly, and turn just a bit darker to a more golden color. Do not let it brown or darken; we are creating a "blond" or golden roux, where the flour has just been cooked.

6. Pour in just a few tablespoons of the hot milk, just enough to moisten the flour and butter mixture. Stir thoroughly to loosen up the thick flour mixture.

7. Now grab the whisk and gradually add the rest of the milk to the loosened flour mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk vigorously!

8. You will be left with a thick, warm, creamy mix of flour, butter and milk. This the base for a souffle.

 

Faith Durand is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking.

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