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Lesson 5 on eggs is more important than you may have imagined. You’ll be putting all of your egg knowledge to work in this lesson about soufflés. Just whip up eggs to fluffy clouds of pudding containing delicious ingredients like cheese or chocolate. You can put a soufflé together in a matter of a few minutes and have a gourmet dish ready for guests or just for yourself.
The Components of Soufflés
Soufflés are mainly made up of two components, the base including egg yolks, and whipped egg whites. A base can be as simple as melted chocolate, milk, and flour or just milk, starch, and cheese. Most cheese versions call for a thick Béchamel Sauce (milk, butter, flour, and seasonings) plus egg yolks. If you’re making a spinach soufflé, your thick béchamel base will contain spinach, either pureed or chopped. Vanilla versions usually start with a thick pastry cream base.
To prevent your soufflé from collapsing, you’ll need to use some ingredients that provide structure. Egg whites with added cream of tartar, starch, etc. provide structure alone. However, this usually isn’t enough. Your base needs to provide additional structure. This may consist of flour, cheese, or vegetables, to name a few.
You can add the garnish of your choosing. For vanilla, you can go simple with just a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Chocolate ganache on chocolate, Mornay Sauce (béchamel sauce with cheese) for cheese, or even tomato-based pasta sauce over a vegetable or cheese soufflé.
Containers for Baking Soufflés
Not everyone owns ramekins, but they are perfect for baking individual soufflés. However, if your ramekin is not straight-sided, you may wish to use another dish. Perfectly straight-sided dishes produce higher-rising soufflés than curved-sided dishes. Don’t let it stop you though if that’s all you have on hand. The rise will still occur if your containers are not straight, but they just won’t be as high as they could have been. Small ramekins are available in 4-ounce, 6-ounce, and 8-ounce sizes. For larger soufflés where you will scoop out a portion for each person, also try to use a straight-sided soufflé dish.
How to Make Soufflés
- Make any sauce or toppings you plan on using; set aside.
- Butter your ramekins/dish. Dust the dish with flour, sugar, cocoa powder, breadcrumbs, or grated cheese, as directed by the recipe or to your liking.
- Preheat the oven to 400 – 425⁰F for individual portions or as directed in your recipe and at a lower temperature for larger portions. If you have a thin base, the higher temperature of 425⁰F is best in order to evaporate some of that liquid. Super thick batters are best at a lower temperature of 400⁰F. Preheating the oven with a baking sheet on the center shelf quickly increases the temperature of the filled ramekins. In turn, this will instantly rise your soufflés for an ultimately higher rise. Definitely use a preheated baking sheet if your ramekins are not straight. These preheating methods work similar to using a preheated popover pan. Heat makes things rise quickly before baking sets the batter or dough. You can even begin baking at a high temperature for 5 – 10 minutes and then reduce to a lower temperature.
- Separate your egg yolks from the egg whites. Keep in mind that you may not use all of the yolks in every recipe. (Also, keep in mind that it is easiest to separate eggs while they are cold, then let them come to room temperature.)
- If using fresh cheese, grate the cheese. If you’re making a chocolate soufflé, finely chop the chocolate.
- Make your base: thick versions of béchamel, chocolate ganache, pastry cream, etc.
- Add the egg yolks to the base, if not already incorporated. When adding egg yolks to a hot or warm base, add about 1/2 cup or more of the hot/warm base mixture a little at a time to the egg yolks, while constantly stirring. As you learned in the Egg Lesson, this tempers the egg yolks.
- You can make the base in advance and refrigerate. Then, bring the base to room temperature prior to folding in the egg whites.
- Whip your egg whites to soft peaks (not stiff) and fold them in two to three parts until no white streaks remain. Folding is done by placing your silicone spatula in the middle of the whipped egg whites, gently scraping the bottom of the bowl and lifting up on the side of the bowl nearest you. Then rotate the bowl and continue in this fashion until you are ready to fold in more egg whites. Repeat with the remaining half or two-thirds. (Add four beaten eggs whites in two parts and 6 eggs in three parts.)
- Gently distribute the batter among the ramekins about two-thirds full (maybe a tiny bit more), wiping the sides of the containers. If you don’t wipe the sides of the ramekins, your soufflé may follow any spilled batter and begin baking in that direction instead of rising upwards.
- Bake on the preheated baking sheet according to the recipe. Never, ever open the oven door during baking. You can, however, get away with opening the door towards the end when the majority of the batter is set. Opening the door earlier can cause a rising soufflé to fall. Small ramekins take 15 – 20 minutes to bake, longer for larger dishes. You’ll know when they are done when they are brown on top, risen high, and cooked all of the way through. To check for doneness, gently shake a ramekin. If the batter is set and doesn’t jiggle, it is thoroughly cooked. To be sure, insert a toothpick in the center of a soufflé. When the pick comes out clean, it is done.
- Serve immediately.
How Do I Add Ingredients to an Existing Soufflé Recipe?
You can begin with a cheese soufflé base and blend in cooked, chopped vegetables such as artichokes hearts or raw spinach leaves. Just be sure to add these items to the base prior to folding in the egg whites.
Just as you would with any other dairy-free dish, substitute cheese and milk for dairy-free versions. Most dairy-free cheese brands perform best when adding to the top of a recipe, such as pizza, the last 10 minutes. When you bake dairy-free cheese inside of a dish, it usually performs well during longer bake times. My favorite brand of dairy-free cheese is Follow Your Heart. Some people enjoy Daiya too. I have heard rave reviews about Chao cheese and So Delicious shreds as well.
Can You Reheat Soufflés?
If you have leftover soufflés, unmold them from the ramekins (possible if you buttered and dusted the dish(es) properly). Once they reach room temperature, cover and refrigerate. To reheat any soufflé, just bake it in a preheated 350⁰F oven 5 – 10 minutes or until it rises again.
If you’ve never made a soufflé, practice by making half a batch. Then on the day that you plan on serving it, you’ll be prepared without being stressed.
Make one of the below soufflés.
Remember, you can always access previous lessons on the Syllabus page.