How to Cook a Souffle

Souffles are a lovely way of treating the special people in our lives. Whether you are serving a hot savory souffles with the main course or as a dreamy dessert it is an elegant addition to any meal.

Not only is it prized for its delectable flavor and airy consistency, but the charm of a souffle is its spectacular appearance as it rises magnificently above the rim of the dish.

If you have fresh eggs and milk you have the makings of a souffle. Once you are familiar with the basic recipe, it's only a matter of varying the recipe with the addition of other flavors.

A basic cheese souffle:

A little soft or melted butter

2 tablespoons dried toasted breadcrumbs

1 cup milk

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons plain flour

3 eggs, separated

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

1-2 tablespoons cream

A pinch of grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon grated cheddar cheese.

Brush a 5-6 cup souffle dish with soft or melted butter and dust inside thoroughly with half the breadcrumbs. When making a sweet souffle dust inside with castor sugar. For a high souffle, cut a double fold of baking paper to fit around the dish so it stands like a collar. Tie with string to make it secure.

Put the milk and bay leaf in a small saucepan over a very low heat, cover and infuse for about 7 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan, remove from heat and blend in the flour. Cook for a minute or two, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Remove bay leaf from the milk, cool slightly then pour all at once onto the flour mixture. Blend thoroughly and stir constantly over moderate heat, until boiling. Simmer 2-3 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Add egg yolks and Parmesan or Gruyere cheese, beating after each addition. Add cream and nutmeg, taste and adjust seasoning.

Whisk egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks. Fold gently but quickly into the mixture. Turn into the prepared dish and sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese mixed with remaining breadcrumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve immediately, a souffle waits for no one.

Variations to the cheese souffle

Herb: Fold in 1 tablespoon finely chopped herbs such as chives, parsley, marjoram and oregano in any combination into the cheese mixture. Fill prepared dish, top with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake.