Souffles are not as hard to make as they seem
Now, don’t let the fact that there is the word “souffle” in the title scare you off. Souffles have an undeserved reputation (along with sponge cakes and meringues) of being difficult, if not impossible to make at home unless you are some kind of magic whizz-kid in the kitchen. I’m here to shatter the myth that surrounds them! This souffle recipe was inspired by a book I’ve just been reading (that’s also just comes out as a movie) called The Hundred-Foot Journey By Richard C. Morais. The book itself was relatively forgettable. It had a lot of promise as a concept, but seemed to get itself lost about halfway through. The inspiring bit came from the recipes they make in the restaurant during the course of the story. One that caught my imagination was souffle with goat cheese and pistacho nuts. I already had a good recipe for cheese souffle so decided just to modify it a little. Now, I’m not sure that I want to go back to eating just plain old cheese souffle! This was so much more interesting!
Hints and tricks for making a fail-proof souffle
So, here are the tricks to making a good souffle that rises just as it should. There aren’t that many, and they’re not difficult, so bear with me…..don’t let your attention stray just yet! The most important thing you need to know is how to make a bechamel sauce. Wait! Don’t go away! Also bechamel is easy. Get yourself a medium-size pot and a whisk and I’ll explain everything below. After that, the rest is easy!
So, the few hints are:
- Don’t touch the inside of the souffle dish with your fingers once it’s buttered. The grease/dirt (!) on your fingers with stop the batter from sticking to the side as it rises.
- Have all your ingredients measured so you don’t panic halfway through the process.
- Make sure the beaten egg whites are really stiff. They should be able to stand up in peaks when you pull the beaters out.
- Fold the egg-whites in very slowly. Patience is everything in this step (and I have very little!).
- Do NOT open the oven door in the first half of the cooking time.
- Make sure everyone is sitting at the table when you take the souffle out of the oven as it will fall quite quickly.
If the souffle falls, act like it was supposed to do that
So, that’s it! See, there’s not that much to it! Go on, have a try! Even if the souffle doesn’t rise much, or falls as soon as you take it out of the oven, it will still taste good. Some restaurants even serve dishes called “fallen souffle”. You can just tell your guests that you meant to do it like that. If you don’t like/can’t get goat cheese or unsalted pistachio nuts you can try other combinations, like cheddar and hazelnut, gruyère and walnut, or Monterey Jack and macadamia nuts. Your imagination is the only limit!
You can make the souffle batter up to 2-3 hours before baking it. Just cover it with clingfilm and place it gently in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. Take it out of the fridge about 15 -20 minutes before baking to let it warm up a bit.
Travel Photo of the Week
Since this recipe is french (well at least the goat cheese and souffle parts are!), I’ll leave you with a photo of one of my favourite places in the South of France: The Pont du Gard just outside Avignon. It’s a beautiful Roman aqueduct that is still standing. The area around it has been turned into a park. Absolutely worth visiting if you’re down in Provence!
By Lisa Watson
Goat Cheese and Pistachio Souffle
- 1/2 – 1 Tbsp Dried breadcrumbs
- 65 g Butter 1/4 cup
- 70 g All-purpose flour 5 Tbsp
- 1 pinch Paprika
- 1 pinch Nutmeg
- 60 ml White or rosé wine 1/4 cup
- 300 ml Milk 1 1/4 cups
- 6 Eggs
- 1 tsp Salt
- 60 g Hard goat cheese 2oz
- 40 g Unsalted pistachio nuts 1/4 cup
- 25 g Grated Parmesan Cheese 1/4 cup
- Weigh out all the ingredients first. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Butter a large souffle dish or 6 small ones. Sprinkle the bottom with dried breadcrumbs (this makes the bottom crunchy and helps it to not stick). Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When it has melted add the flour all at once and stir with a whisk for two minutes.
- Add the paprika and nutmeg.
- Add the milk and wine and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens to the consistency of custard. Add the parmesan cheese.
- Take it off the heat and leave it to cool for 2 – 3 minutes.
- Whisk the egg yolks and salt together, then add them to the bechamel (yes, you’ve done the heardest bit!) and whisk them together.
- Beat the egg whites until they are stiff (when you take the beaters out the whites should stand up in peaks).
- Now use a wooden spoon. Take 1 spoonful of the whites and stir them into the bechamel. Gently fold the rest of the whites into the mixture.
- Crumble or cut the goat cheese into small pieces (depending on how hard it is). Stir it gently into the mixture.
- Chop or crush the pistachio nuts into tiny pieces. Add 3/4 of the pistachios and stir them in. Pour the batter into the already prepared souffle dish(es).
- Sprinkle the rest of the pistachios on the top of the souffle.
- Put in the oven and turn the temperature down to 170°C (375°F).
- Bake one large souffle for 45 – 55 minutes and small souffles for 12 -15 minutes. Don’t open the oven for the first half of the cooking!
- Serve IMMEDIATELY!