Many folks are scared of soufflé. And I get it. You hear stories all the time about a soufflé collapsing or simply not rising in the first place. If you've never seen anyone else make a soufflé, it can seem a little daunting to tackle the task from a simple recipe. But really, truly I am here to tell you that it's absolutely do-able. Not only is it do-able, it's something you can easily master on an average old weeknight.
A few years ago, we wrote about souffles, offering a few tips of the trade. But that was then, and many soufflés have been made since. We've honed our skills and have 5 tips that will guarantee a perfect soufflé.
The gist of most soufflés is this: you make a base, fold in whipped egg whites, and bake. If you're doing a sweet soufflé, maybe your base is chocolate. If you're doing a savory version, maybe your base is a version of a bechamel sauce, creamy with flecks of herbs. In this sense, the technique for most recipes is the same. Here are a few tips to make sure you succeed each and every time you set out to bake this light, airy treat.
- For Fail-Proof Meringue, Add Acid! This is not required by any means, but if you have trouble getting your egg whites or meringue to peak properly, you can always add a little lemon juice or cream of tartar to help strengthen the structure of the mixture.
- Don't Overfold: The tendency with many people is to really whip the whites into the base mixture. This is a mistake. You want to gently fold in the whites only until the point where the streaks of white disappear. Until you do this a few times, you'll probably feel as though you're under-mixing. Chances are: you're not.
- Use Fresh Room Temperature Eggs: Your eggs will act the way you want them to if they're room temperature. Whipping cold eggs is harder work and you won't get as much lift.
- Level off the Top of Your Soufflé With a Knife: You don't have to do this, but you know that magical flat top that soufflés have when you order them at restaurants? That's achieved with the swipe of a flat knife on the top of your souffle.
- Use the Bottom Oven Rack: Generally speaking (although each oven is certainly different), the bottom oven rack is what you want to use to achieve lift. So for anything light and airy that needs rise, bake on the bottom.
Weeknight Tip: Did you know that you can make a soufflé ahead of time and bake them off when you're ready? This is a great party tip — make them the day before, cover and refrigerate them and take them to room temperature before you bake them off. They can be refrigerated for up 2 to 3 days.
Related: How to Make a Souffle
(Image: Flickr member St0rmz licensed under Creative Commons)