Soufflé is the ultimate show-off dish but it’s really not that tricky once you know how.
Follow our step-by-step guide and you’ll be serving top-notch soufflé in no time - though obviously don’t tell your guests it’s that simple
1. Firstly, brush your ramekins with melted butter. Tip in some crushed nuts and swirl each one around so the nuts coat the inside. You can also use parmesan, caster sugar or some finely grated chocolate, depending on the flavour of your soufflé.
2. The basis of a soufflé is a white sauce enriched with egg yolks, or a custard. To make a white sauce melt 25g butter in a saucepan and stir in 25g plain flour. Keep stirring and cook for a minute, then slowly pour in 300ml of milk, stirring like mad so you don’t get any lumps. Keep stirring and gently heat until it thickens.
You can then add any cheese, herbs or other flavourings. Stir until the cheese melts then cool it a bit and beat in the egg yolks. Make sure you give it some love with some salt and pepper.
3. Get a really clean bowl and tip in your egg whites. With really clean beaters, start to whisk. They’ll go through three stages starting by getting bubbly and foamy. Keep whisking until they get to the soft peak stage – this is when they’re fluffy and light. Keep whisking some more until they get to the stiff peak stage. This is the time to wave the bowl over your head, if you wish.
4. Mix a large spoonful of the egg whites into the sauce. This’ll loosen it so you can fold the rest in more easily, and therefore keep the air in the mixture.
Carefully fold the rest of the egg whites in, a spoonful at a time using a large metal spoon (a wooden spoon can knock out too much air). Try not to over mix as this’ll push out the air you need for them to rise. If there are lumps of egg white, knock them gently with the edge of your spoon.
Spoon the mixture into the ramekins and run a fingernail around the rims to make a ‘lip.’
5. Now you need to make a bain-marie. Put the ramekins into a roasting tray and pour boiling water into the tray, to come half way up the sides of the dishes.
6. Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C/gas mark 4, for 20 minutes. They should be nicely risen and golden. The soufflés need to be eaten straight away before they collapse.
Tip: If they collapse, or if you want to make them ahead, you can simply bake them again. Tip them out of the ramekins, put on a baking tray and bake at 200°C/gas mark 6 for a further 5 minutes to set.
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