Prior to baking this, I had actually never made or even eaten a souffle before, but for some reason I had written it down as one of the 25 things I wanted to do before I turned 25. I bought the souffle dish some time ago, in preparation for fulfilling this goal, but then it drifted out of my mind. Finally, on the spur of the moment, I grabbed a recipe out of Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion and whipped up her Classic Cheese Souffle, which is a deliciously light eggy cheesy concoction. Stephanie writes, “Souffles are not nearly as fraught with danger as some cookery books would have you believe,” and she’s right. I was surprised at how easy this was. Mine rose, as you can see, and didn’t immediately sink down – it looked wonderfully appetising at the table, and when served was fluffy and airy. Perfect.
30 g butter
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons freshly grated gruyere cheese (I just used an aged cheddar)
4 eggs yolks
5 eggs whites
Preheat the oven to 200C. Butter a 1 litre souffle dish well, and sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of the parmesan cheese to coat the sides and the base.
Melt 30g of butter in small saucepan. Stir in flour and cook over a moderate heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, while stirring. Bring to a boil (mine was rather thick already), then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in gruyere and remaining parmesan cheese, and then the egg yolks, one at a time. Transfer to a large mixing bowl (or mix it initially in a large saucepan.)
Whisk eggwhites until firm. Tip half on top of the cheese sauce, and using a metal spoon, lift and fold the whites through the mixture. Continue with the remaining egg whites. The mixture should look frothy and spongy.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish, and gently run your thumb around the edge of the mixture – the souffle will rise within this flattened edge. Place souffle in oven and do not disturb for 25 minutes. The top should be well risen and browned. Touch gently – the souffle should yield, but not feel liquid.
Take the souffle to the table and serve immediately with a large serving spoon.