A mixture for a hot souffle can be completely prepared for baking, then covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for one to two hours before cooking. Take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before baking, to allow it to return to room temperature.
For an unusual way to serve souffle, scoop out the centres of several large beef tomatoes and fill them about three-quarters full with souffle mixture. Place on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven.
You could also experiment with other vegetables such as scooped-out green or red peppers, or large mushrooms. Alternatively, make individual souffles in small dishes.
To prepare a dish for a cold, set souffle, secure a band of greaseproof or non-stick paper around the outside of the tin with sticking tape. The paper should come up about 50mm (2in) above the rim. Pour in the souffle mix so that it rises above the rim. When the souffle is set, remove the paper, using a knife dipped in hot water to separate it from the souffle if it doesn’t come away cleanly.
Basic souffle recipe
Melt 25g (1 oz) butter, stir in 25g (1 oz) flour and cook gently for a minute or two. Gradually add 150ml (¼ pint) milk and bring to the boil while stirring.
Let the mixture cool slightly, then add 75g (3oz) grated cheese, chopped ham or mushrooms, or other filling. Beat in three egg yolks and season with salt, pepper or herbs.
Whisk the whites of the three eggs until they stand in soft peaks and fold them into the mix. Pour the souffle mixture into a greased 180mm (7in) souffle dish and bake in the centre of the oven at 200°C (400°F/Gas Mark 6) for about 35 minutes. Serves four.
Don’t open the oven
Leave your souffles to bake in peace – a quick rush of cold air could make them collapse.
A can of condensed soup makes a quick and tasty souffle. Beat up three egg yolks with the soup in a 1 litre (1-¾ pint) souffle dish. Whisk the whites and fold them into the yolk and soup mix. Bake for 40 minutes at 190°C (375°F/Gas Mark 5).
Rescuing disasters: souffles
Collapsed baked souffle
Spoon savoury souffle into a lightly buttered, shallow, flameproof dish and sprinkle with grated cheese. Grill until bubbling and scatter with fresh, chopped herbs before serving.
Scoop out a collapsed sweet souffle into a wide, shallow dish and mask the top with whipped cream or Greek yoghurt. Scatter flaked, toasted almonds over the top and serve.
Unset cold souffle
Always check a cold souffle before removing the collar from the dish. If it has not set, place the souffle in the freezer until just frozen. Serve it iced, and call it souffle glace. If there’s no time for freezing, fold in a little whipped cream and serve in elegant stemmed glasses.