I still haven’t managed to master the perfect rise with this particular soufflé and even though it is on my dining table frequently, it continues to remain an elusive creature, defying all my attempts to train its sides to be perfectly straight. It definitely rises, but at the very end, just when I think ‘I’ve nailed it this time!’ it tends to explode haphazardly like its impersonating a cauliflower. A good thing to remember is that so long as the texture and flavour are correct, that is all that matters.
40g soft unsalted butter
¼ cup (25g) breadcrumbs, crushed to
a fine powder with a mortar & pestle
½ cup (75g) plain flour
1½ cups (200g) gruyere cheese, grated
2 pinches of ground nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
6 eggs, separated
Special Equipment: electric cake mixer + large 20–22cm ramekin
with 10cm high sides OR 10 small 10cm ramekins with 5cm high sides
Preheat the oven to 200?C or 190?C fan-forced.
Brush a large ramekin OR 10 small ramekins thoroughly with the butter, using
upwards strokes on the sides as this will guide the soufflé evenly upwards as it
cooks. Pour the breadcrumbs into the ramekin/s, turning and shaking the dish to
ensure the crumbs completely coat the butter. Discard excess crumbs.
To prepare the roux, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour
and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, stirring until the flour and butter
mixture become foamy. Add the milk in small portions and whisk until homogenised
and thickened. Add the cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper and beat with a wooden
spoon until smooth. Remove from the heat and beat in the yolks one at a time until
Beat the egg whites with an electric cake mixer until medium–stiff peaks form. Whisk
one-third of the beaten egg whites into the roux mixture, then add the remaining egg
whites and fold with the whisk until just incorporated.
Fill the prepared dish short of 1cm from the top. Remove the exposed butter and
crumb coating by pinching the rim with your thumb and index finger and running
them around the dish – this will help with an even rise. Turn the oven down to
180?C or 170?C fan-forced and bake for 20–30 minutes (about 15 minutes for small
ramekins) OR until the top of the soufflé develops a golden crust. The instruction
‘serve immediately’ is a serious matter with a soufflé as it will deflate in seconds.
Although this is usually served as an entrée, I love it with salad or soup as a light
When working with egg whites, always ensure the whisk and bowl are utterly
clean and dry. Also, make sure there is not a trace of egg yolk to be found as
the fat content will prevent the egg whites from fluffing up into stiff peaks and
instead they will remain a limp watery mess. Egg whites freeze very well, so
don’t throw them away, portion them into small snap-lock bags for easy handling
at a later date.
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