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Souffle


lauraf
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Sorry if there is a thread on this already, please redirect this if needed - I'm kinda new to the cooking forum, and didn't see anything obvious about souffles.

I've never made one myself, and the stories I've heard about flat souffles make me nervous to attempt one without detailed instructions - the cookbooks I have are so vague. Does anyone have any beginner's advice?

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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lauraf,

Look in Julia Child for instructions---she taught my mother and me both how to make souffles. I think they're in Mastering volume 1. Then, get yourself a carton of eggs, and try it. Really, the worst that can happen is that you wind up with a baked egg dish! Despite the mystique and the "oooh" factor, a souffle is not difficult to make. The hardest part can be separating the eggs!

Good luck,

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Sorry if there is a thread on this already, please redirect this if needed - I'm kinda new to the cooking forum, and didn't see anything obvious about souffles. 

I've never made one myself, and the stories I've heard about flat souffles make me nervous to attempt one without detailed instructions - the cookbooks I have are so vague.  Does anyone have any beginner's advice?

Hi Lauraf,

Here are the mistakes I've made which, upon correcting, have led to consistent souffles:

  • Did not temper the yolks (ended up with sweet scrambled eggs)
  • Over whipped egg whites (you'll know, they're nasty looking)
  • Sloppy integration of whites and fats/flavor components
    • Dumped them in all at once instead of in steps
    • Mixed vigorously when I should have folded gently

    [*]Incorrect baking

    [*]Wrong temperature and wrong setting ("Clean" vs. "Bake" due to faded dials on my oven during my crappy apartment days).

Good luck and let us know how you fare.

Eat Well,

-jbl

The Postmodern Soapbox - NominalTopic.blogspot.com

Twitter: jbzepol

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Just another word of encouragement from the peanut gallery: follow the recipe carefully and you won't have any problems. I'm not really sure where the "mystique of the impossible souffle" comes from... I have not had any difficulties as long as I followed the recipe (not that I make that many---maybe one per year on average). Are you planning on making individual souffles or one large one?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Just another word of encouragement from the peanut gallery: follow the recipe carefully and you won't have any problems. I'm not really sure where the "mystique of the impossible souffle" comes from... I have not had any difficulties as long as I followed the recipe (not that I make that many---maybe one per year on average). Are you planning on making individual souffles or one large one?

All I can think of is the ingrained scene from so many visual arts of the harried mother warning not to......slam the door. Oh no, my souffle. You know what I mean. That led to the "tempermental" mystique of the souffle in my opinion.

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I've never missed with Julia's instructions.

Even my mom who was a really poor cook could make a souffle. Just go for it!

ditto on the Julia part..she is the Goddess ....no fail just follow the steps and you will be fine.....but my step mom could burn boiled eggs so I am glad she never tried a souffle :raz:

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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I suspect the mystique came from wood or coal burning ovens, that had drafts, uneven temperatures, etc.

And possibly from people who had insufficient stamina to hand whisk the eggs to the proper aeration.

My current oven will produce a lopsided souffle - its got a terrible temperature gradient in it. But other than esthetically, its a perfectly good souffle.

1) if the recipe calls for cream of tartar, use it *

2) relax, be happy. and dont over mix. Under is better than over.

3) not to be obnoxious, but I made my first souffle before I was a teenager, and I've never had one fail. They are not rocket surgery, if one has a decent oven and a good way to whip eggswhites.

*my dad forgot to. Gran Marnier flavored omelet is .... ok, but not what he had in mind.

Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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- How's your technique for whipping egg whites? As long as you know how to beat egg whites to soft peaks (not to overbeat or underbeat) you are 90% there.

- Cut or chop any embellishments like ham or veg into very small pieces.

- Be careful not to deflate the egg whites when folding into the base. I pile my egg whites on top of the base and gently fold them in with a spatula, using a pinwheel-like motion (center to edge) around the bowl. You don't have to be super-thorough. A few white streaks here and there are OK.

- I like to butter my souffle dish then sprinkle it generously with breadcrumbs or grated cheese for a savory souffle; sugar for a sweet souffle. Otherwise the souffle can have that unpleasant dried-out egg crust. I never use a collar. A regular souffle dish suffices.

- The souffle is done when it is well-browned and still jiggles a little in the middle when you shake it slightly.

There's a mystique about souffles that is not warranted. They are cookable. But they can be tricky, especially if you've never seen them prepared before. Give it a shot, and if necessary, come back here for some troubleshooting.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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Wow - thanks everyone! That eGCI class was really helpful to review, plus everyone's advice about the importance of the egg prep technique for whites and the incorporation of the fats. I am going to try this at some point over the next couple of weeks, and will keep you all posted.

And I am going to confess a big secret. I don't actually have any of Julia Child's cookbooks myself. :shock:

Mum has them all, and I used to cook from them when at home with her, but don't have any in my own house. I suppose I should buy my own, right?

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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Wow - thanks everyone!  That eGCI class was really helpful to review, plus everyone's advice about the importance of the egg prep technique for whites and the incorporation of the fats.  I am going to try this at some point over the next couple of weeks, and will keep you all posted. 

And I am going to confess a big secret.  I don't actually have any of Julia Child's cookbooks myself.  :shock:

Mum has them all, and I used to cook from them when at home with her, but don't have any in my own house.  I suppose I should buy my own, right?

I would say yes!

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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I also never made a souffle. And come to think of it, I've never eaten one, either. But reading this thread made me realize that I am dying to try. So I did. I read Julia's explanation (concise, to the point, and all-inclusive), and then I read the eGullet tutorial (which, IMO, is as good as Julia's, and has photos to boot), and I thought, okay, now or never. I had some left over salmon in the fridge from last night's dinner, and so I started to mess about in the kitchen. Hands-on learning is a wonderful thing, isn't it? :rolleyes:

I have to say, everything went along quite well except for two glitches: I used a microplane for the cheese I wanted to use to coat the sides of the dish, somehow figuring if the cheese was grated more finely it would be easier to "sprinkle." This turned out to be not such a good idea, because the cheese was too fine and tended to clump together. So I added some bread crumbs to it, which pretty much took care of the problem. The second glitch was a bit more serious: I don't have a souffle dish, or even small souffle dishes. :sad: I mean, I really never figured I'd make this stuff. I thought of filling a muffin tray, but decided they were (a) too shallow, and (b) the sides were too slanted. In the end I settled on these ceramic mugs. The sides are a bit higher than I would have liked, but at least they're straight and I thought, well, they'll have to do. (Or not.)

I was very pleased with the result. I preheated the oven to 400F and turned it down to 375F when I put the tray in, a la Julia. They baked for 24 minutes. (I think next time I'll preheat to 375, then reduce to 350, because Julia's recipe calls for one large souffle dish.) They rose nicely and browned well on top, and the inside was sort of creamy but not wet. (I've eaten three of the five :shock: ) It's hard for me to judge since, as I mentioned, I've never eaten a souffle before, so I don't have anything to compare it to. Also, and I don't think this is supposed to happen, the inside had a few large gaps, sort of like a popover. Next I'm going to try the chocolate souffles from the eGullet course. Hey, I need dessert!

Anyway, now comes the biggest challenge: trying to post the photos.

gallery_2885_5182_206952.jpg

gallery_2885_5182_691653.jpg

(Edited to get the photos on right.)

Edited by cakewalk (log)
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Those look great, really nice. You might try smoothing the tops a little more next time, if you want to get the classic look. But personally I hardly ever bother: I like the more homely appearance. Be very careful about greasing the moulds well, especially round the rims where they sometimes stick.

I have one word of warning to add to the general advice you have been given. One trouble with souffle is that everyone thinks it's such an achievement to get the damn things to rise (though it's actually quite easy) that there's a tendency not to ask whether they taste good.

And the sad fact is, they often don't really. All that egg and air, it's easy to end up with something very bland, and with a dull texture like rubbery mousse. Getting them to rise is really only half the battle.

On that score, my only advice in general would be:

Stick to strong flavors, and keep them strong (so strongly flavored cheese, for instance): cheese, chocolate, lemon, spinach, crab, smoked fish etc. These all work well because they work well WITH the egg OR they just cut through it. Sometimes people think that because souffles are delicate they can manage delicate flavors. In my experience at least that doesn't work, and they just end up tasting eggy. I have often been disappointed on that score, even at very good restaurants.

In a savory souffle, season the base really well. It needs to be very highly seasoned, because it is about to have a load of near-flavorless egg whites dumped in it. So plenty of salt, pepper, cayenne etc. The base should be stronger in flavor than you think it needs to be!

Consider accompaniments which boost flavor and/or texture. I recall having an anchovy sauce with a spinach souffle, for instance, which worked well. Or think (though, at home, maybe don't emulate) the restaurant fashion a few years ago for putting a small ball of some contrasting sorbet into the hot souffle. Some sort of sauce or other accompaniment can help, and think in terms of contrast.

Be careful about cooking. Personally I think that the French style--which is to cook quite fast and hot so that the outside gets good and heated, with some color, and the inside stays almost runny is good. This gives at least a bit of texture contrast, and some flavor contrast too, since the saucy stuff is often a bit different in taste from the fully cooked mousse, and different again from the slightly singed top and edges. So for my taste, looking at yours, I think I wouldn't turn the oven down: I'd be looking for more color, if anything, and perhaps a wetter middle: I'd expect souffles of that sort of side to be "cooked" (to my taste) in more like 15 or at most 20 minutes than 25. But this is my personal taste, and I'd try them a few ways to find out what you like. It might be worth doing a batch where you extract them at intervals and see what you prefer.

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One trouble with souffle is that everyone thinks it's such an achievement to get the damn things to rise (though it's actually quite easy) that there's a tendency not to ask whether they taste good.

:laugh: I had been thinking this same thing! I was very worried about them rising, and when they did, well, I was certainly relieved, but my immediate next thought was: I wonder if they'll be any good? Now, they actually were pretty good, if I may say so myself, but if push came to shove I think a good omelet might have been a bit more satisflying. :raz: (I was hungry.)

Thanks very much, and thanks especially for your suggestion of baking the souffles for various different times to get an idea of the different textures. That sounds good.

And on that note, I'm off to buy some more eggs ...

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Stick to strong flavors, and keep them strong (so strongly flavored cheese, for instance): cheese, chocolate, lemon, spinach, crab, smoked fish etc. These all work well because they work well WITH the egg OR they just cut through it. Sometimes people think that because souffles are delicate they can manage delicate flavors. In my experience at least that doesn't work, and they just end up tasting eggy. I have often been disappointed on that score, even at very good restaurants.

Paul, this is really good advice. In particular I'm a big fan of chocolate souffles, but try to use a lot of chocolate, for this exact reason. I don't find that chocolate works "with the egg" so much as it simply becomes the primary flavor. A little Gran Marnier never hurt a chocolate souffle, either :smile:

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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...the inside was sort of creamy but not wet. (I've eaten three of the five :shock: ) It's hard for me to judge since, as I mentioned, I've never eaten a souffle before

These souffles sound perfect to me. The French style souffle is somewhat runny in the center; the American style is firmer. (I prefer the American style myself.)

- An ice cream scoop is handy for placing the mixture into small souffle dishes.

- To achieve the "top hat" effect in a souffle, smooth the surface and cut a circle into it, about 1/2" deep and 1" away from the edge in a large souffle, maybe 1/2" away from the edge in small souffles.

Well! this thread is bringing back my souffle memories. Over 30 years ago I took a cooking class entitled "La Cuisine Francaise," taught by a wonderful woman named Josette King in the basement of the Boston YWCA. It was the first cooking class I had ever taken in my life. Josette was the daughter of a French hotel chef, and could she cook. No fancy ingredients, she just knew what she was doing. I and the other neophytes were bowled over.

Josette and her husband went to NYC, ate at a fancy restaurant there, and upon her return Josette replicated the orange souffle she had eaten for dessert. I asked her, "How can you do that?" She smiled and replied, "When you cook a lot, you can figure out how to make things." Here's my version of her orange souffle recipe. Enjoy!

SOUFFLÉ AUX ORANGES

Serves 6

Butter and granulated sugar for dish(es)

2 large oranges (preferably Naval)

2 ounces (4 tbsp) butter

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup sugar

5 egg yolks

3 TB Grand Marnier

6 egg whites

1 pinch salt

Confectioner's sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 6 individual 8 oz soufflé dishes or one 2-qt soufflé dish, dust with granulated sugar, and shake out the excess.

Remove zest from the oranges with a microplane or grater, set aside the zest, then peel and section the oranges. Remove any seeds if necessary.

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan, add the flour, and cook stirring constantly for approximately one minute. The mixture will foam. In a separate pan, bring the milk to a boil, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve.

Away from the heat, pour the milk into the flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Return to the heat and keep stirring until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

Add egg yolks, Grand Marnier, and orange zest to mixture, stirring briskly with a whisk.

Beat egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form, then fold gently into the mixture, 1/4 of the egg whites folded in at a time.

Fill the soufflé dish(es) to 1/3 full, add a few orange sections, then add enough mixture to fill the dish to 3/4 full. Smooth the surface. Cut a circle into surface, about 1/2 " deep and 1" from edge of dish for a large soufflé dish, less for smaller dishes to achieve the "top hat" effect.

Bake until soufflés are puffed and golden brown, approx 18 mins for small soufflés, and 40-45 mins for a large soufflé. The soufflé will still jiggle slightly in the middle when done. Sprinkle soufflés with confectioner's sugar if desired and serve at once.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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Okay, my husband just gave me the go-ahead to try a souffle for dinner tomorrow night. He's not a huge fan of eggs for dinner, purely for (his) health reasons, but I suggested that instead of having eggs for breakfast tomorrow, he could 'offset' his cholesterol load. :raz:

So I WILL buy Julia's Mastering Vol.1 tomorrow, and will plan to follow her basic recipe, but I am also preparing our shopping list tonight. I couldn't find her souffle recipe online, so I'm just wondering if a bunch of eggs, cheese, and milk are all the fresh ingredients I will need? Do I need breadcrumbs as well? And also, I can't eat Swiss cheese, which I think is the one Julia uses, but I am assuming that cheddar or havarti would work? Finally, I need to 'put stuff' in the souffle, according to my husband, like vegetables and meat. Best suggestions for savoury 'stuff' to include that will be easy for My First Souffle?

I'm usually really good at improvising on recipes, but when egg whites or phyllo are involved . . . . well, they're often 'handle-with-care'.

Thanks!

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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The ingredients for Wild Mushroom Souffle on this blog are virtually identical to Julia Child's cheese souffle in Mastering the Art vol 1. The major difference: increase the cheese to 3/4 cup. (No mushrooms, of course.) http://marcsala.blogspot.com/2006/07/tale-of-morel-ity.html

The Mastering recipe calls for Swiss or Swiss/Parmesan. I like to make cheese souffle with Gruyere, though any kind of flavorful hard cheese should be fine. As for other fillings, I suggest you keep it simple for a first souffle. Embellishments like ham, mushrooms & veg weigh down the souffle and also add moisture. I suggest that you learn to make the basic souffle first. Any simple but hearty side dishes you can serve?

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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So last weekend I made my first souffle! It's taken me a week-long guided tutorial from Pam R to figure out how to post pictures (I am embarrassed at my total lack of ability, but thanks Pam - I did it!) And the pictures are crap to boot, but I'm into lots of first-evers right now.

And thanks to all for their comments in this forum. I went out and bought Julia's The Way to Cook - the bookstore didn't have the Mastering books, but this one had her souffle recipe, and is a fabulous read, with great pictures. I'm in love.

Making souffle is actually ridiculously easy if you have good instructions!

I prepped four individual ramekins with butter and good parmesan finely shaved with my microplane (I love my new zester). Then carefully separated the eggs, made my bechamel sauce and egg base:

gallery_23523_5701_560266.jpg

I heeded advice and went very light on additions - just some very finely chopped sauteed shallots - but heavy on the seasoning, with plenty of paprika, white pepper and kosher salt. Then whipped my egg whites - wiping the bowl with vinegar was a great tip - my egg whites were so airy! Added some to the base, then slowly folded in the rest of the whites along with a cup of grated gruyere:

gallery_23523_5701_152698.jpg

Then filled the prepped ramekins, which were chilling in the freezer, put them into a 400F oven and turned down to 375F. Because I was baking individual ramekins, I changed my mind and turned the heat down to 350F after five minutes, but when I checked through the window after fifteen minutes and didn't see much rising, I turned it up to 375F again, convinced that now I was ruining everything! But after 25 minutes, the souffles had significantly risen:

gallery_23523_5701_234247.jpg

And I figured that was as much as they should cook.

Well, I misjudged the size of the ramekins - I think if I had only filled three of them, I would have three nice-looking puffed souffles with the recipe proportions I used.

But they were delicious! Rich with flavour, light yet cheesy. Perfect with a little salad and some bread. I could have eaten them all myself, and my husband loved them too. I don't know why I was so intimidated before, the hardest part really was separating the eggs.

Thanks for everyone's advice. I heart souffles. :wub:

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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Congrats on your souffle success! Only your first souffles, but they look really good. I'm glad you bought Julia's The Way To Cook. Many of the best recipes from Mastering the Art are also in The Way To Cook, but the recipes are updated and lightened up (less fat). My favorite meatloaf recipe is in The Way To Cook (p 251). So is my favorite recipe for blender mayonnaise (p 363). Have fun with your new book.

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Thanks, I guess :unsure: - they didn't really look all that great, but they did taste wonderful. I will try again with only three ramekins to see if the proportions work better, or just go buy myself a large souffle dish. And meanwhile I am enjoying reading through The Way to Cook - a wonderful resource for my very middling level of expertise vs. ambitious culinary aspirations!

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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  • 4 weeks later...

So I'm going to have some friends for dinner, and they are very forgiving friends so I will attempt a souffle recipe again! :raz: Is it a problem to double Julia Child's recipe to feed the six of us? Or should I prepare two separate souffle batches? Maybe this question belongs in the Stupid Questions thread . . . :unsure:

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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