Daring Kitchen - Souffle

My first!

November's challenge was souffle.  What a way to strike fear into the whisk of any cook - souffle.  Yikes!  This would be my first souffle - both eaten and cooked (yes, really).  It turned out so much better than I expected.  I ate three small ones...oops, I think I've said too much...I'm not sure why I ever waited so long to make one!

Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Souffles as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided many of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate souffle recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.

I made the savoury souffle with following changes:  I used baby spinach in place of the watercress; I used 1/2 c of  low-fat medium cheddar and 1/4 c of grated Parmesan; I added 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper.

Here are the recipes - go forth boldly and cook!

Here are some hints from our hosts:
Will it rise? In our experience, savory souffles tend not to rise as much as the dessert variety. After much experimentation, we believe that this is due to the ratio of ‘filling’ ingredients to eggs – dessert souffles usually have much more egg white relative to the flavoring ingredients. For best results in a savory souffle, select ingredients with stronger flavor and low water content. We recommend no more than 2 oz/60g of ‘filling’ per egg to achieve maximum lift. See also below for our tip on beating the egg yolks to further improve lift.

Recipe size: If you want to make more than the recipe indicates, everything should work just fine –but don’t use a baking container that’s bigger than 2 (US) quarts (approximately 1.9 L/1.6 imperial quarts.) If you have more souffle than this, use two baking dishes.
Prepare everything beforehand and work briskly. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the whole recipe and prepare all your ingredients and equipment beforehand, rather than stopping to read each step as you go along. But don’t feel like you have to rush: souffles really are much more forgiving than they’re cracked up to be.

Use fresh eggs at room temperature. Cold eggs won’t whip up so well.

Use a clean mixing bowl and mixer blades for the egg whites. Even a little grease or detergent can interfere with the formation of air bubbles in the egg whites. Similarly, take care not to get any egg yolk in your egg whites when you separate the eggs. Egg yolks contain fat, which has the same bubble-destroying properties as grease and detergent.

Temper the egg yolks. Tempering the egg yolks means bringing them closer to the temperature of the souffle base before mixing them together. (If you add cold, or even room temperature egg yolks to the hot base, you run the risk of making scrambled egg…) The usual technique for tempering eggs involves mixing some of the (warm) base into the egg yolks, stirring thoroughly to disperse it before it starts to cook the eggs. Once the eggs are warmed up in this way, they can be safely added to the base. However, after multiple disappointing savory souffles using this method, we tried the technique of beating the yolks over a bath of warm water, as one does for a sabayon. This made all the difference in the world. The detailed instructions are included below in the watercress souffle recipe, but the approach can be applied to any savory souffle.

Make sure that the oven is pre-heated. The first few minutes are critical for making the souffle rise properly; make sure it’s up to the correct temperature and don’t leave the door open for too long when you put your souffle in.

Prepare your dishes thoroughly. Make sure that your souffle dish is thoroughly buttered and lined with crumbs, cheese, chocolate, etc as directed. This goes for the collar too if you’re using one (see below). The crumbs are really helpful in showing where you might have missed a spot – if they don’t stick to any area, be sure to patch it with more butter. Also, do make sure the top edge of your dish is clean by running your finger along the rim. Otherwise, souffle will burn in that spot and it can also interfere with the rise.

Keep the oven (mostly) closed during baking. It’s often said that souffle's will collapse if the oven door is opened during baking. That’s partly true – you should keep the oven closed as much as possible during baking – but in our experience you probably won’t ruin your souffle if you briefly open the oven to check on things, particularly near the end of cooking time.  In fact, one time after putting a souffle in the oven, we noticed we’d neglected to add the cheese. So we pulled it back out, threw in the cheese, stirred it around a bit and put it back. It came out just fine. Honestly, they are much more forgiving than their reputation would allow.

Ring around the collar. Adding a collar is purely optional and works best when you want to add height to your souffle dish. We’ve never needed one for dessert souffles which tend to be pretty stable, and only needed it for a savory souffle when we overfilled our ramekins. If you want to try this, you can find instructions at http://www.baking911.com/howto/souffle.htm and http://www.wellsphere.com/healthy-cooking-article/how-to-make-a-souffle-collar/545505.

Equipment required: Soufflé dish (7-8 cups/1.5-2 quarts/1.6-2L), or a deep baking dish with relatively straight sides. You can also use small ramekin dishes (or oven-proof coffee cups!); these will cook significantly faster. Whisk (an electric mixer will make it a lot easier, but hand whisking is great exercise) Various measuring spoons (¼, ½ and 1 teaspoon; tablespoon) and/or kitchen scale Miscellaneous mixing bowls and pans, including a large bowl for beating the egg whites.

Watercress Soufflé
A Monkeyshines in the Kitchen recipe

2 Tbsp 1 oz/30g butter plus additional for the soufflé dish
3½ Tbsp (55 ml) 1 oz/30g plain (all purpose) flour
1 cup/8 fluid oz (240ml) milk ½ cup (120 ml)
2 oz/60g Parmesan cheese, finely grated plus additional for the soufflé dish
1 cup (250ml) 2 oz/60g finely chopped de-stemmed watercress (can substitute spinach) – about 1 large bunch (this measure is the leaves after they’ve been washed, de-stemmed, and chopped)
4 large eggs, separated ½ tsp (2½ ml) (3 gm)
(.1 oz) prepared mustard ¼ tsp (1¼ ml)
(1½ gm) (0.05 oz) cream of tartar*
Salt and pepper to taste
* If you can’t find cream of tartar, a dash (~ ½ tsp) of lemon juice can be substituted

1. Butter the soufflé dish(es) thoroughly, then grate a small amount of cheese in each dish and tap so that the sides are evenly coated with the cheese. Place the dish(es) in the refrigerator until needed (according to some sites, this helps the soufflé climb).
2. Preheat the oven to moderate 350º F / 180º C / gas mark 4
3. Wash and chop the watercress if you haven’t already.
4. Finely grate the Parmesan cheese
5. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour to
make a roux. Cook 1 minute, then add the milk, a little at a time, and stir until just thickened, about 1 minute. Add the cheese and stir until it’s just melted. Remove from heat then add the watercress and salt and pepper.
6. In a larger pan, bring water to a gentle simmer. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl set just over this water until pale and slightly foamy – about 6 minutes. (I held the bowl just above the simmering water to be sure I didn’t cook the eggs)

7. Mix the egg yolks into the watercress sauce.
8. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks yet are still glossy.
9. Fold the egg whites into the sauce in 3 additions so that it’s evenly mixed, but you don’t lose too much volume.

10. Remove the soufflé dish from the refrigerator and spoon the mix into it. Use a spatula to even the tops of the soufflés and wipe off any spills.
11. Bake 25 minutes for small dishes or 40 minutes if using a large soufflé dish, then serve immediately.

It was muy delisioso!!!  Well done Monkeyshines :-)

Better hurry - souffle waits for no one!


  1. Your photos are amazing! I love the detail and the step-by-step help. Oh yeah, and those souffles look incredible!! Great job on the challenge!!!!

  2. They look great. Well done!

    Stay JOLLY!