Wish Upon A Dish: Classic Cheese Soufflé

April 24, 2013

Classic Cheese Soufflé

Rounding out our week of egg dishes, I made Julia Child's Classic Cheese Soufflé using Cheddar instead of the traditional Gruyere.

OK, this post is a very good lesson of what NOT to do and I want you to benefit from my mistake.
While the actual making of a soufflé is extremely easy, there can be a few areas where things can go wrong. Do not do what I did.

As you can see from the pic, my top hat was lopsided. I had a blow out. Everything was going so well and I thought I had it all contained when it continued to grow and just plopped over the side of the soufflé dish.

I did have the foresight to set the dish on a small ramekin, but it puffed so much even the ramekin could not contain the batter and a lava river of fluffy eggs just kept on growing and growing until I lost quite a bit to the bottom of the oven. Do you know what happens when souffled eggs hit a very hot surface?
Just don't overfill your dish and you will never have to worry.

The original recipe made enough to fit in a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish (4-6 dinner servings). Since it was just the two of us and I was also serving asparagus and a garden salad, I decided to halve the recipe.
I also only have one official souffle baking pan and it holds 2 cups of batter.

I was certain that I was supposed to level off the top, which I did. The only thing I can think for the blowout is the ratio of whites to yolks being slightly off. All souffles use an egg yolk thickened bechamel sauce that is the flavoring, with the beaten whites as the lift. If my base to lift ratio was off, the whites could have puffed more than it should have. Yes, I'm going with that, too much lift.

So I could have done a few things to stop the explosion:
1. Filled the dish to at least 1" from the top.
2. Attached a collar of parchment paper around the rim.
3. Increased the cheese sauce to compensate for the extra egg whites.
4. Made the recipe as written and baked off two souffles.

Did my boo-boo effect the texture or taste? It was the perfectly puffed monument to the airiness that is a souffle, with just the right amount of cheddar goodness. Utterly ethereal.
I will post the recipe as written and if you do not have a souffle dish and want to bake individual ones, I would use 6 (1 cup) ramekins and fill 1/2" from the top.

I have to say, despite the blowout, it was excellent. We ate the whole thing and The Nudge gave me permission to make this again, soon.

Classic Cheese Soufflé
Adapted from Bon Appetit | May 2008
makes 4-6 dinner servings

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated cheese (about 4 ounces)

1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 F. Butter 6-cup (1 1/2-quart) soufflé dish. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes (do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

4. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm or room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in cheese. Transfer batter to prepared dish.

5. Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately.

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