five tips to making souffles

ChestnutSouffle1

Let me preface this by saying that I am in no way a soufflé master.  But, after not nailing a soufflé on my first attempt, I thought that I would share five tips to making soufflés that brought me some success the second time around.  Please check out the final product and recipe here.

1.  Do not prep ingredients in advance.  Generally speaking, whenever I cook or bake, I like to have all of my ingredients prepped and ready to go in advance. However, here, I think there is a certain timing element that actually works better if you go through the recipe in order, without any advance preparation {at least for this particular soufflé recipe}. Waiting to separate my eggs until after I made the pastry cream base seemed to have made a difference – the few minutes it took to separate my eggs allows the pastry cream to cool slightly, as opposed to mixing in pre-separated egg yolks immediately into the hot pastry cream. 

2.  Butter your soufflé dish upwards. When greasing the soufflé dishes with melted butter, use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter using upward strokes along the inside of the soufflé dish.  There are so many variables to soufflé success that it is difficult to know whether this made a huge difference, but the experts say that this encourages the soufflé to climb higher.

3. Do not overmix your egg whites. The first time I tried making the soufflé, I used a Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites. This created two problems for me – the egg whites on the bottom and side of the bowl did not get truly whipped {a problem that Kitchen Aids tend to have based on the design} and I didn’t pay enough attention to what was happening to the egg whites. The second time, I used a large metal bowl and a large whisk, and just whisked my little heart out, with nice, big circular motions. I was able to see the egg whites transform, first to the foamy stage, then to the soft peak stage, and then to the stiff peak stage, which actually happened faster than I expected. I recommend checking as you go often – stop whisking, and pull the egg whites up out of the bowl with your whisk to check consistency. Also, you aren’t looking for incredibly stiff meringues here – you are looking for something more akin to shaving cream, a tip I picked up from this helpful video.

4.  Top it off.  Be sure to fill your soufflé dish all the way to the very top, and then take the flat side of a knife and run it directly across the top to slough off any extra batter. Then, carefully use your thumbnail to go around the inside of the bowl – you are just trying to create the thinnest of “gutters” in between the soufflé mixture and the soufflé dish. I have seen various videos on this, and some people {like Martha} seem to incorrectly dig a large portion of their thumbs into the soufflé, when all your really need is your thumbnail – you just want the soufflé mixture to come away from the sides ever so slightly so that the top of the soufflé will lift.

5.  Know your oven.  The first time I attempted the soufflé, I placed my soufflé dishes on a rack closer to the bottom of the oven.  The second time, I re-positioned the rack so that the soufflés would be in the top half of the oven. Because the heat source of my oven is from above, I think this caused the second attempt to rise higher. You may also need some extra time – the original recipe indicated that the soufflés should be ready in 10 to 12 minutes.  Mine took closer to 15 minutes {I don’t have a convection oven}.  You can open the oven quickly during the cooking process to touch the tops of the soufflés – if they still feel a bit wet, give them a bit more time.

Most of all though, don’t give up.  Soufflés are notoriously difficult to master, I think because it is all in the technique and not so much a recipe. A little practice and you will be making gorgeous, high rising soufflés in no time!

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4 Responses to five tips to making souffles

  1. I’ve never tried to make soufflé… You have me inspired to try! Lovely post..

  2. Thanks for the tips, i guess i used to overmix my eggwhite then…..

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