“The only thing that will make a souffle fall is if it knows you're afraid of it.”
- James Beard
In my humble opinion, Souffles are perhaps one of the most astonishing culinary feat to come out of French kitchen.
It is also one of the most feared. A test of true grit of the cook & technique. Which is why it is also one of the most satisfying, self-congratulatory dishes one can ever prepare. I will be lying if I tell you that before I begin a souffle, I don't say a little prayer. Because when it comes to some things in life we can use all the help we can get.
Don't get me wrong - it's not difficult to make at all and the fact that it takes only a handful of ingredients to make leaves me gobsmacked. Because when you do take the first bite of that airy, fluffy, ever so light & delicate souffle, it is nothing short of an orchestra or a 12 gun salute going off in your mouth.
I think an orchestra is a perfect analogy for a souffle. A sum of parts to a make an exquisite whole. A perfect souffle begins with a perfect dish. It must be round, it must have flutes and the bottom must be unglazed.
And my 12 cup Emile Henrysouffle dish is perfect because the burgundy clay it is made of ensures even browning. The ridges on the side add to the surface area as well as the unglazed bottom all aid in maximum heat absorption for that perfect end result.
Also, I am about to inaugurate one of my most coveted kitchen appliances - The Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. How I have been swooning over this electric hunk of a bowl for over 2 years and finally, I have it! Thanks to my dear friend Beth, our friendship that has endured over a decade which makes this gift all the more special.
Now that we have the perfect dish & the perfect appliance to do the job, the next important piece of the puzzle is the perfect recipe. Let me tell you friends - you'll be hard pressed to find a recipe that does not begin with roux - you know whisking flour in hot butter to make a Bechamel sauce.
And here is where sheer genius of technique steps in - Richard Grausman in his recipe, as detailed in At Home With The French Classics, takes a short cut - gasp! And one that as you can see renders an incredible, upwardly mobile Souffle without the unnecessary rue of dealing with roux.