I think too many TV shows have caused fear around the classic soufflé but I promise, if you follow the recipe below, you will feel like a French chef cooking in Paris. Below is the standard recipe but you can be creative – add coffee, chocolate, cheese or even fruit purée, the options are endless.
1 vanilla pod/bean
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup plain flour
1 cup and 1 tbs full-cream milk
a little icing sugar
1 tbs butter
¼ cup caster sugar
Prepare 4 ramekins. Take your time to do this, as it will make all the difference to how your soufflés rise.
Melt the butter and brush over the inside of each ramekin. Tip 2 tsp of caster sugar into each ramekin and roll it around so the sugar coats the buttered surface evenly and completely. Tip out any excess sugar.
Split the vanilla pod along its length.
Separate the eggs. You will need 5 whites and 3 yolks, in separate mixing bowls. Make sure the bowl you put the whites into is really clean because any touch of grease, from handling the butter for example, will stop the whites from peaking properly.
Put the sugar into the bowl with the egg yolks and whisk for a few minutes until they turn a very pale straw colour and have a creamy mousse-like appearance.
Sprinkle in the flour, whisking again.
Pour the milk into a heavy-based pan over medium heat. Scrape in the vanilla seeds and put the pod in as well. Just before the milk reaches boiling point, take it off the heat.
Pour it over the egg yolk mixture a little at a time, whisking continuously. Discard the vanilla pod. Pour the mixture back into the pan and bring up to the boil, whisking all the time.
Turn down to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, still whisking constantly. Remove from heat and transfer to a clean bowl.
Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Using the whisk, quickly mix about a third of the whites into the cream mixture. Don't whisk too heavily, as you don't want to knock the air out of the whites. Then, with a metal spoon, gently fold in the remaining two thirds of the whites. The gentle folding-in of the egg whites is key.
Put the ramekins on a baking tray so they are easy to put into and take out of the oven. Fill each one to the top and smooth the surface a little. Then, with a piece of kitchen paper, wipe the rims so they are nice and clean. This is important because if there are bits of mixture on the rim, the soufflés might catch on them and then won't rise properly.
Put the tray in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for about 15 minutes. For the first 5 minutes, when the soufflés are starting to lift, don't open the oven door. The loss of heat will stop the soufflés from rising evenly. When they're done, they will have risen quite high and be a caramel brown colour on top, but still white on the sides.
Take the tray from the oven. Dust the tops with icing sugar and serve immediately.
Claire Allen is a multi-talented entrepreneur, food curator, chef, and influencer and making her mark in the food world.
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