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Michel Richard Souffle


Wesley1
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My boss ate at Citronelle a couple months ago and had an orange souffle. He told me that it stood at least 8 inches and was out of its ramekin. Anyone know how this is done? I assumed it was some form of stabilizer or something along those lines. I want to try it because it seems like a great way to keep your souffle from falling too quickly.

Thanks, Wes

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When we made souffles in junior high school, we put a ring of aluminum foil around the souffle dish so it extended a few inches above the top of the dish.  Then before serving we removed the aluminum foil.  It was very pretty, from what I remember...

I use buttered parchment paper and string, but it's the same principle: support the ethereal.

Margaret McArthur

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1912-2008

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My boss ate at Citronelle a couple months ago and had an orange souffle. He told me that it stood at least 8 inches and was out of its ramekin. Anyone know how this is done? I assumed it was some form of stabilizer or something along those lines. I want to try it because it seems like a great way to keep your souffle from falling too quickly.

                                                  Thanks, Wes

Using the buttered parchment collar tied around the ramekin will allow you to completely fill the ramekin - the collar will act as a brace as the souffle heats and rises, but before the structure is set enough to hold it up.

I have also found that "tophatting" the souffle just before I put it in the oven will usually permit an additional bit of rise. Stick the side nail edge of your thumb about 1/4 or so inches into the filled ramekin, resting the outside 1st joint of the index finger on the outside of the rim to stabilize. Turn the ramekin. The thumb should create a roughly 1/4" wide, 1/4" deep "moat" between the souffle batter and the rim of the ramekin. It permits the souffle to rise straight up and not get hung up on the rim.

Regards,

Sharon

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Thanks for the posts. But now, how do I keep it from falling?

Timing is everything. Are you cooking individual souffles? Or, one huge big-hair girl?

You have a little grace period between the time that you prep, fill & finish off the ramekins (suggest that, if using, you put the collars on last) and the time you put them in the oven. In a cool, draft free corner of the kitchen, probably as much as 20-30 mintues, but no more. Then have the oven pre-heated and the filled ramekins sitting on the baking tray. Figure out how long it will take the souffle to cook, and at that point in the dinner, excuse yourself to the kitchen and put the tray in the oven. And keep track of the time. If you have not previously cooked souffles in your oven a/o are not confident in the heat calibration, you might want to consider a 1/2 recipe dry run. Of course, you'll have to sample the results ....

Once souffles come out of the oven, you have maybe 5-8 minutes to get them de-collared and served to ensure that they arrive in all their ephemeral skyscraper glory. You might want to enlist an assistant, both of you armed with mitts or towels, and small knives or scissor to cut the strings and remove the collars.

If you intend to sauce them, I would suggest that the sauce be brought to table in a gooseneck or gravy boat, and allow the guests to make the incision and bathe them in the sauce ... not only are they responsible for the quantity of goo added, but they are the ones 'guilty' of deflating the souffle.

Alternatively, you can prepare your souffle base - do NOT chill it - and whip the whites until almost ready. At the it will take them to bake plus 5-8 minutes, retire to the kitchen, finish whipping up the whites, fold them into the base, fill the ramekins, etc., collar them (if you are using tall collars, you can either pin them with a straight pin or paperclip them together at the joining edge and you have preheated your oven and set out a sheet pan for the ramekins, havent you???!!!), and put them in to bake.

Small souffles are usually done in 12 to 15 minutes - but don't cook them until they are firmly set, because that's just cake.

A further thought ... on whipping the egg whites: don't overwhip them. The (French) teachers I've had all whipped the whites to the borderline soft-peak stage - when the whisk is lifted from the bowl and turned upside down, a soft peak will form, and might even drop off the whisk. It is a borderline call: you do not want them truly runny, but remember when you whip whites (or cream) until they are very firm, you are whipping increasing the amount of air whipped into the bubbles. All fine and good if you are not going to process the mix further, with the aim of giving lift to the end product. If you whip the whites to their stiffest peak, they will be more difficult to fold in ... so the mix is uneven and many bubbles are broken, so you lose air and lift in the final product.

Also, if you are baking this air-leavened mix, remember that the air in the bubbles will expand as the mass heats. and if you have whipped the max amount of air into the whites (any more and the bubbles burst, and the meringue "breaks"), the walls of the bubbles cannot take the pressure of the expanding air, and will rupture. You will lose lift and height as a result. Ultimately, of course, the air bubbles do pop, but you want that to happen AFTER the structure created by the eggs and the flour in the protein have set up and can hold up the souffle (or cake, etc). Think of the art of bubblegum chewing and bubble blowing: when you get it 'just right' and blow that huge bubble, the temptation to make it even bigger takes over, and with just one tiny little extra puff of air, the bubble .... bursts. Now think of a whole gaggle of 'em all together in a bowl. That's kinda how the bubbles in the eggwhites or whipped cream are. You'll get better results ... lift ... if you don't overstress the whites with too much whipping.

Regards,

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Thanks for the posts. But now, how do I keep it from falling?

Sounds like you need a souffle pump... :laugh:

Seriously then:

We used to make all of our souffles before service and they kept just fine. Just use a powdered egg white (Eisan is the best) mixed with equal parts powdered sugar. Blend a little of the whites into the powder mixture and mix until smooth. Add this mix back into the lot of the whites and put it on the mixer on 2. Keep going until it gets to really soft peaks and start adding in the granualted sugar. Whip on 2 until a good meduim peak forms. By the way, you get maximum stability and maximum volume by gently whipping things (the cell walls on the air bubbles are stronger) on 2 than beating the crap out of them on 3.

Anyway, its been a long time but I think that we did something like 750g. of whites and 50g. each of the sugar and Eisan. I don't have the recipe handy but that should get you off to a good start, you're going to have to play with it.

Also, when you are buttering and sugaring your ramekins be sure to go back around and make one final sweep of the brush so the marks go directly from the bottom to the lip of the dish, we really found the this helps with the rise. As mentioned above, wipe the lip of the dish off with pointer finer and thumb and then fill with the mix in a piping bag with a big gaping hole cut in it, at least and inch so you don't squish the air out of the mix as you are piping it. Pipe cleanly, don't get any on the edges and leave a slight hump in the middle of it. No paper, no string, no nothin'.

We would make them up at 4pm-ish, put them in the fridge and when service started we would pull a few out to start warming to room temp. they were fired in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

The finished souffles were at least 6+ inches for sure, they don't collapse right away either, so there is time for the runners to pick it up with out the usual panicky hub-bub associated with souffles.

Hope this helps!

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This has been a great thread to have, because as it happens I have been spending this week trying to get to grips with souffles, making one every day: spinach on Monday, mushroom on Tuesday, Grand Marnier today.

The trouble I find is with getting them to rise evenly and not stick anywhere on the rim; this is a long-standing problem which I hope to have solved by the slightly mammoth sequence of repeated attempts. I seem to have cracked it (at last ... I hope). What works for me is: (1) really slathering the dishes with butter; (2) coating the butter with some further insurance against egg cooking to porcelain (breadcrumbs, parmesan); (3) running my finger round the edge to make sure the rim is really clear before baking (I don't think this is quite the trench described above, but it's somewhat similar and at any rate ... it works!).

One other thing I've noticed. I really think souffle is improved by being served with a sauce or some other accompaniment. Even when well flavoured, a souffle is (of necessity) a somewhat monotone thing (because it is an even mixture) and heavy on eggs which dull flavours somewhat. Having a nice complementary sauce, or some sorbet, or something like that makes a big difference and really lifts it.

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Thanks for the posts. But now, how do I keep it from falling?

Timing is everything. Are you cooking individual souffles? Or, one huge big-hair girl?

You have a little grace period between the time that you prep, fill & finish off the ramekins (suggest that, if using, you put the collars on last) and the time you put them in the oven. In a cool, draft free corner of the kitchen, probably as much as 20-30 mintues, but no more. Then have the oven pre-heated and the filled ramekins sitting on the baking tray. Figure out how long it will take the souffle to cook, and at that point in the dinner, excuse yourself to the kitchen and put the tray in the oven. And keep track of the time. If you have not previously cooked souffles in your oven a/o are not confident in the heat calibration, you might want to consider a 1/2 recipe dry run. Of course, you'll have to sample the results ....

Once souffles come out of the oven, you have maybe 5-8 minutes to get them de-collared and served to ensure that they arrive in all their ephemeral skyscraper glory. You might want to enlist an assistant, both of you armed with mitts or towels, and small knives or scissor to cut the strings and remove the collars.

If you intend to sauce them, I would suggest that the sauce be brought to table in a gooseneck or gravy boat, and allow the guests to make the incision and bathe them in the sauce ... not only are they responsible for the quantity of goo added, but they are the ones 'guilty' of deflating the souffle.

Alternatively, you can prepare your souffle base - do NOT chill it - and whip the whites until almost ready. At the it will take them to bake plus 5-8 minutes, retire to the kitchen, finish whipping up the whites, fold them into the base, fill the ramekins, etc., collar them (if you are using tall collars, you can either pin them with a straight pin or paperclip them together at the joining edge and you have preheated your oven and set out a sheet pan for the ramekins, havent you???!!!), and put them in to bake.

Small souffles are usually done in 12 to 15 minutes - but don't cook them until they are firmly set, because that's just cake.

A further thought ... on whipping the egg whites: don't overwhip them. The (French) teachers I've had all whipped the whites to the borderline soft-peak stage - when the whisk is lifted from the bowl and turned upside down, a soft peak will form, and might even drop off the whisk. It is a borderline call: you do not want them truly runny, but remember when you whip whites (or cream) until they are very firm, you are whipping increasing the amount of air whipped into the bubbles. All fine and good if you are not going to process the mix further, with the aim of giving lift to the end product. If you whip the whites to their stiffest peak, they will be more difficult to fold in ... so the mix is uneven and many bubbles are broken, so you lose air and lift in the final product.

Also, if you are baking this air-leavened mix, remember that the air in the bubbles will expand as the mass heats. and if you have whipped the max amount of air into the whites (any more and the bubbles burst, and the meringue "breaks"), the walls of the bubbles cannot take the pressure of the expanding air, and will rupture. You will lose lift and height as a result. Ultimately, of course, the air bubbles do pop, but you want that to happen AFTER the structure created by the eggs and the flour in the protein have set up and can hold up the souffle (or cake, etc). Think of the art of bubblegum chewing and bubble blowing: when you get it 'just right' and blow that huge bubble, the temptation to make it even bigger takes over, and with just one tiny little extra puff of air, the bubble .... bursts. Now think of a whole gaggle of 'em all together in a bowl. That's kinda how the bubbles in the eggwhites or whipped cream are. You'll get better results ... lift ... if you don't overstress the whites with too much whipping.

Regards,

Theabroma

nkaplan@delposto.com
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a few more thoughts to add

1.butter and sugar or flour your dish (sweet or savory) all the way to the top of the rim, don't wipe it, and then place the dishes in the freezer until you are ready to bake them.

2. whip the egg whites starting on a low speed until they are almost done, and then turn up the speed for just a minute. the theory behind this is that whipping at low speed produces thousands of small bubble and whipping at high speed produces hundreds of large bubbles. the bubble will reinflate in the oven regardless of it's initial size. however you will break bubbles in the folding process and the more you start with the more you'll have left after folding.

3. all of that said, egg whites will be done before you would expect. i would not even take them to soft peaks but a bit before that, so they are soft and shiny but don't really hold a shape.

4. you can refidge souffle batter however it will take longer to cook and generally won't get as nice a rise on that second day.

5. the smaller the souffle dish the better the rise, the larger dishes definitely impede the beauty of the souffle

all this said i have probably baked 150,000 souffles in the course of a lifetime. i'm kind of glad my new kitchen is an elevator ride away from the dining room eliminating any hopes for souffles.

good luck and practice makes perfect

nkaplan@delposto.com
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Thank you all very much, I appreciate the help. But this still hasn't answered my question of how to get it out of it's ramekin onto a plate, and to a table while maintaining it's height (8").

Aha! It is fairly common that souffles are baked in individual serving ramekins and served, all tall a puffy, to each person who has the responsibility to deflate them. Classically, baked souffles are not unmolded. You would need to prep the hell out of the mold, and probably bake them in shifts of two or so, and have an assistant help ferry them to the table.

Alternatively, you can bake one large souffle, take it from oven to table to be admired, and then, using a large dessert or other serving spoon, portion it onto plates at the table and pass around.

You could, I suppose, get them out of the ramekin and onto the plate, but unless there are some stabilizer ingredients being used, you will need to cook it towards the popover level of doneness in order to get that sucker to look like a basketball player standing on the plate.

Good luck.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Thank you all very much, I appreciate the help. But this still hasn't answered my question of how to get it out of it's ramekin onto a plate, and to a table while maintaining it's height (8").

Aha! It is fairly common that souffles are baked in individual serving ramekins and served, all tall a puffy, to each person who has the responsibility to deflate them. Classically, baked souffles are not unmolded. You would need to prep the hell out of the mold, and probably bake them in shifts of two or so, and have an assistant help ferry them to the table.

Alternatively, you can bake one large souffle, take it from oven to table to be admired, and then, using a large dessert or other serving spoon, portion it onto plates at the table and pass around.

You could, I suppose, get them out of the ramekin and onto the plate, but unless there are some stabilizer ingredients being used, you will need to cook it towards the popover level of doneness in order to get that sucker to look like a basketball player standing on the plate.

Good luck.

Theabroma

Awesome! so does anyone have an idea as to what type of stabilizers would be appropriate?

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Awesome! so does anyone have an idea as to what type of stabilizers would be appropriate?

for a souffle? just cornstarch.

i guess in theory methcel should help stabilize because it is a hot item, but it would also impede the rise, as it gels while air bubbles are trying to grow.

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Awesome! so does anyone have an idea as to what type of stabilizers would be appropriate?

I suppose if it didn't have to be hot you could make a mousse-like base that doesn't need to be baked, add a soft-gelling agent or foam stabilizer, pull a vacuum on it and chill it to set. That wouldn't be a traditional souffle though and I've never actually tried it (note to self: try it). Is there a specific reason you don't want to serve them in individual dishes? I'm just wondering because getting a hot traditional-style souffle out of the mold and on to a plate without deflating it doesn't sound fun to me... much less doing it for several plates.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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You could probably spray some parchment with Vegelene or something like that, dust it with superfine sugar and roll it into a tube that would sit in a stainless steel ring for the base. Make the meringue using swiss method but with less sugar and the addition of Eisan or the like. Pipe it into the bottom of the tube and bake it. You should have fewer problems unmolding it because there is no intersection between dish and product.

I'd think that you would be able to pull the whole tube out of the ring and unwrap it. At this point I'd be more nervous about servers making rash movements with the plate and toppling it over than having it deflate.

As long as you warm the whites, use an egg white stabilizer and build your foam slowly souffles are actually pretty stable. I've seen them sit for at least 10 minutes without deflating using this method.

In fact we used to bake off extra souffles at the end of the night, pull the tops off them and eat them like a muffin top with a slathering of vanilla bean ice cream, no collpasing involved, just tasty goodness.

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