Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Almost Perfect Cheese Soufflé

This is yet another recipe from BBC2's The Best. Eight years on and I still can't let go. I'm trying to get into The Best in Australia, but it's just not as good. I don't like how they chop and change between each other's recipes - I prefer a logical flow, finish one thing before you start another!

Anyway, I love the original version. I have the recipe book and while I may not cook from it all that often, it's one of my favourites to read, especially while watching the episodes! When I was sick I watched the whole series possibly more than once and one of the many recipes I really wanted to try was Paul's Perfect Cheese Soufflé.

I have never had a soufflé before, much less tried to make one myself. Paul says in the cookbook (and I quote) "Soufflés have a reputation for being tricky and unpredictable but follow a reliable recipe and they work every time". I put my trust in Paul and set about collecting my ingredients. I didn't even try to find the Swiss cheese that Paul suggested, but took the easy option of substituting it with Gruyere.

I halved the recipe because there are only two of us and I didn't think that we'd be able to make our way through eight soufflés no matter how small they were. In hindsight, this was a great idea as there are now two sadly deflated soufflés sitting on my counter which we are too full to eat.

Once everything was measured out and ready to go, it was surprisingly easy to pull together. Except for a brief panic when I tipped the bowl of grated cheese into the flour instead of the egg yolks/whole egg (I threw the flour/cheese mix into a sieve, sieved out the flour and carried on), it was really straightforward.

I also learned that supermarket eggs can lie. I bought some nice looking, free range eggs at the supermarket the other day because we haven't been to a farmers' market for a while and they were terrible. They were difficult to separate, the yolks didn't hold together, the egg whites didn't want to whip and when they did they weeped terribly. They were awful to work with. I've never had problems with eggs like I have had with this dozen. Thank goodness there is only one left.

I did make a small error in that the recipe tells you to preheat the oven and the grill. I have a combined oven and grill and I was concerned about over-cooking during the initial grilling, so I preheated the grill only and once the tops were a little more brown than golden ( oops), I turned off the grill and turned on the oven, cooking the soufflés for a little bit longer than specified to compensate for the time the oven took to heat.

They rose!! I was very excited when they came out of the oven. I'm not quite sure what I did wrong with the greasing of my ramekins, but obviously I did it consistently as they all stuck to the ramekin at one point the same way! I'm not disappointed because I still think they turned out spectacularly well for my first try and despite my egg problems.

They were lovely and light and fluffy. I should have added a touch more white pepper. While they were very tasty and had a beautiful cheesy flavour, I think they were slightly underseasoned. They were suprisingly filling too. D and I both ate one (I have 150ml ramekins) and couldn't even contemplate eating the remaining two.

Paul’s Perfect Cheese Soufflé
from BBC2's The Best

(note: I halved this recipe)

85 g softened butter
50 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
300 ml full-fat or semi-skimmed milk
65 g plain white flour
6 free-range eggs, separated plus 2 free-range eggs left whole
85 g Gruyere cheese, grated
salted and freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Preheat the grill. Soften 25 g of the butter and use to grease eight 175 ml ramekins lightly. Sprinkle with 25 g of the grated Parmesan cheese to coat evenly.

Pour the milk into a large saucepan, add the remaining butter and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, egg yolks and whole eggs with an electric whisk for about 2-3 minutes, until you have a thick custard. Pour the hot milk over the custard and stir until well-combined. Return the mixture to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes over a low heat. If necessary, return to the bowl and whisk again to ensure the mixture is thick and smooth.

Turn the mixture into a bowl and add the Gruyere cheese and the remaining grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold into the sauce, using a large metal spoon. Divide the mixture between the ramekins. Place on a baking sheet and pop under the grill for 1 minute or until the tops start to go golden brown. This will make sure that you get that lovely straight up rise. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until risen.


  1. Mmmm, I would love that as a side or entree. Looks perfect.

    Haha, I saw a little bit of myself in this post. No matter how hard I try to follow a recipe I always make some form of mistake :)

  2. I did think about leaving the whole egg problem out of the post to make myself look better, but I like to tell myself that my mistakes give my blog it's charm!!

    I'm loving your blog by the way, I can't wait to make some of your recipes.