Foolproof flourpot cheese souffles

There is this whole bonkers mystique about souffle-making. ‘It’s hard’ (no, it’s not). ‘It won’t rise’ (yes, it will). ‘It’s extravagant’ (six eggs to feed four? Don’t think so). Any cook who can make a thick white sauce and beat egg whites into stiff peaks can make a souffle. This mixture is based on my 4 x GGrandmother’s recipe from 1810.

Two hot, feather-light souffles just out of the oven

Why flowerpots? Well, when I was a kid a famous TV chef and MP named Clement Freud (back in the days when politicians had integrity, talent and personality) made bread in the shape of flowerpots. It was one of my mother’s favourite recipes. I kept the medium-sized flowerpots she used and now I make souffles in them as well as bread. If you try it make sure yours are clean – sterilise them using boiling water – or better still use new ones.

Materials

Wooden spoon, large non-stick pan.

2 medium-size clean terracotta flower- pots (or two straightish high-sided ovenproof dishes will do fine too)

2 round greaseproof cake liners or just greaseproof paper

Ingredients

3oz unsalted butter

4oz grated mature cheddar cheese (or any cheese you fancy, stilton is good if you are a fan)

6 eggs, separated into yolks and whites (don’t get even a drop of your yolk in the whites, or they won’t beat to stiff peaks). If you do have a mishap use an eggshell to scoop out the bit of yolk and plenty of white around it – just add it to the sauce instead. If you want to make doubly certain your souffle will rise, add an extra egg white (and save the yolk covered in the fridge for something else).

About 1/3 litre milk (I said a half at first but depends on flour, oven etc – sauce is better too thick than too runny)

4 – 5 heaped tablespoons plain flour

One tablespoonful Dijon mustard

Freshly-ground black pepper

1/4 teapoonful freshly grated nutmeg

Method

Line two flourpots or ovenproof dishes with your greaseproof cake liners. If you don’t have any liners put a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom of the dish but DO NOT grease the sides. You souffle needs something up which to climb.

Make your white sauce in the non-stick pan over a medium to high heat: melt your butter and add the flour a little at a time. Fry off the flour in the butter (if it goes a little brown in places no problem) and keep mixing until it smells a little of toast.

Adding the milk

Now add the milk a little at a time. It will look horrible and lumpy and you will think you have failed but persevere (or cheat and give it a whizz with an electric hand blender). Put it to one side in a warm place it it’s not working and wait 5 minutes – the lumps will gradually soften and help thicken the sauce. The trick is just to keep beating it like crazy until it gives in.

Keep beating when it looks like this, you are halfway!

When it is smooth, stir in the black pepper, nutmeg and the egg yolks. Finally, add about 3/4 of the cheese, stir well and set aside.

Nice glossy rich sauce with egg yolks and spices added.

In a separate clean dry glass bowl, beat your eggs with an electric whisk (the only reason to do it by hand would be if you employ an idle kitchenmaid with massive biceps). Stiff peak is when the egg whites look solid and become more like meringue. Pour your warm eggy cheesy white sauce on to the side of your egg white. This will push it up rather like an iceberg.

Tonight my egg white mountain looked a bit like El Capitan!

Take a warm dry metal spoon and gently, using an up and down circular motion from the bottom of the bowl to the top (so not normal round and round stirring), pull the egg white into the sauce. It may not look very even, but don’t worry too much about that.

All ready to go in the oven. The one on the right has added chopped mushrooms.

Pour your mixture evenly into the two dishes on a baking tray and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

Pop into a hot (210) oven for 35 – 40 minutes. Keep an eye on them and if tbey brown early quickly cover them with a piece of foil. Souffle myths include not opening the oven door but you can if you are quick and the kitchen is not too chilly.

Make sure your family is seated before you serve the souffles, as then you get a nice oo-moment before they sink. Using liners means the kids can lift them out and peel off the nice crunchy bits at the end.

You can flavour souffles with anything – spinach is good, one of tonight’s was mushroom, and for a naughty dessert try melted chocolate swirled through (adding a little dark brown sugar and leaving out the cheese and spices of course!).

One overflowed as it rose so high but the ‘baby’ was eaten too!

Tonight I served the souffles with a warm broccoli and orange salad with bacon, rosemary and balsamic vinegar.

Bon appetit!

Author: veewalkerwrites

Hello new readers! I am here to keep you company. Thousands of you have now begun your reading journey of my award-winning début novel Major Tom's War. It was launched at the National Army Museum in London on 20 September 2018 (the eve of Tom and Evie's 100th wedding anniversary) by my lovely publishers www.KashiHouse.com. The revised and expanded second edition is out now on Kindle, the paperback soon - in theory launching during a book tour of Canada late 2020. We will see... https://www.google.com/search?q=majortomswar+kindle&oq=majortomswar+kindle&aqs=chrome..69i57.11416j0j4&client=ms-android-samsung-ss&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#sbfbu=1&pi=majortomswar%20kindle

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