Number 28 on the #40by40 list was to make a soufflé. I have to admit I’d never even tasted a soufflé far less made one, maybe constant edge of seat Masterchef moments had made me feel it was both beyond me and unnecessary to go through the pressure. But the logical part of me suggested that if you follow a set of instructions then the end result should be correct. Whichever way it was it seems like a very useful technique to have in your kitchen armoury so it was about time to attempt one. With storecupboard ingredients being all that was required it seemed the perfect way to embark on my little mid-life crisis, eh sorry, food and drink adventure.
What is a soufflé? Various definitions and descriptions seem to exist, but to me it is a little cloud of puffed up egg white flavoured with sweet or savoury ingredients. The simplest option seemed to be to make a plain soufflé to start with, just egg whites and sugar, the step by step technique inMasterchef Kitchen Bible came in very handy for this. Therefore I embarked on getting the eggs to the perfect soft peaks and not turn them into meringue, especially as meringues are not in the #40by40 list so there was no fall back. The mixture didn’t quite fit my ramekins which seemed massive as I filled one of the two I’d buttered. So I turned the oven light on and watched patiently as they rose but a little wispily and the inevitable fall happened.
Not to be discouraged I returned the next day, I couldn’t have a collapsed soufflé ticking off number 28 on the list. So armed with Elizabeth David’s wonderfully descriptive recipe I set about conquering the cheese soufflé for lunch. I made my silky white sauce, stirred in my uber whisked and lovingly separated egg yolks and grated in some beautiful pecorino. Then came the bit that still confuses me, just what should these whisked eggs look like, I’m still not entirely certain?However with my peaks looking suitably soft if maybe slightly water on reflection I folded carefully into the eggy cheesy mixture. Note to self: buy a pallet knife. and poured into my carefully buttered ramekins. 12 minutes at 200C is a long time in the life of a soufflé cook but suddenly, effortlessly like a little bird taking it’s first flight they rose, my little yellow cloud. Stage one complete and looking nicely cooked they came out of the oven looking not quite majestic but beautifully ugly. Should I quickly take a picture before the collapse or have faith? Opting for the latter due to slight perfectionist tendencies I waited for my lunch to cool a little and the lovely cheesy savoury peak kept its head held high. Success, not perfection, but success enough for me to feel confident of cooking them for guests at some distant time in the future. Next stop crab soufflé. Sometime.