By Cappy Tosetti.
How It All Began
Soufflé is French from the verb soufflér: to puff, inflate, blow, and breathe. Like many discoveries in history, there are various versions, depending on the region and individuals involved in relating a story. The origin of the baked soufflé is no different.
A recipe for “Omelette Soufflée” was written in 1742 by chef Vincent La Chapelle who worked for many royals, including Louis XV, King of France, and his mistress Madame de Pompadour. His savory recipe called for candied lemon peel and veal kidneys.
Later in 1783, Paris chef and culinary writer Antoine Beaubilliers added several soufflés to the menu at his popular restaurant, The Grande Taverne de Londres. He is often credited as the “inventor of the soufflé.” Years later, in 1816, he published a popular cookbook, L’art du Cuisinier (The Art of Cooking), that included a collection of updated soufflé recipes.
French chef and writer Louis-Eustache Ude published The French Cook in 1813 while living and working in London. His cookbook features six soufflé recipes: chocolate, potatoes with lemon, orange flower, rice cream, bread, and coffee.
Later in 1820, celebrity chef Marie-Antoine Carême created hundreds of soufflé recipes for his wealthy clients in Paris. His success came from perfecting dazzling creations with the invention of updated ovens heated by air drafts instead of coal. This new technology provided a more evenly
distributed cooking temperature that helped a soufflé rise properly and remain in place without falling. He baked his creations in stiff pastry casings with straight sides, inspiring future cooks to use the same feature in individual ramekin dishes or larger, straight-sided baking dishes.
Since those early days, serving a soufflé for a special occasion represents creativity and celebration. It doesn’t have to be a daunting experience worrying about failure or following a long and complicated recipe. Keep it simple. Like anything worth trying, it just takes a bit of preparation
and following directions. It might be a classic cheese soufflé for an autumn get-together or a creamy potato version on a wintery night. Tasty fresh or frozen fruits can add a refreshing dessert to any meal, and there’s always chocolate, a favorite any time of the year.
Light and Fluffy Secrets
Gone are the days of treading lightly in the kitchen when preparing a soufflé. There’s no need to worry about the contents collapsing in the oven and ruining a festive gettogether anymore. The secret lies in preparing the eggs. They should be at room temperature, making them easier to whisk. Separate them in two bowls, allowing the egg whites to do their magic in forming light, airy peaks that add volume to a soufflé.
Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and start off at a low speed, increasing to medium-low until soft peaks form. Then increase to a medium-high speed and beat until glossy, thick, and pillowy, being careful not to overmix. It’s best to use a stainless steel, glass, or copper bowl. Never use plastic bowls; they can retain a greasy residue from previous uses.
Some recipes call for adding cream of tartar or other leavening agents before beating the egg whites. This acidic ingredient helps stabilize the
mixture. A pinch of salt is sometimes added to help break up the proteins in
the egg whites. As always, it’s up to the individual preparing the soufflé.
Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the other ingredients with a large, flexible rubber spatula or a metal spoon. This incorporates the delicate
mixture thoroughly, allowing the airy consistency to remain during the baking process.
If done correctly, success will surely follow, eliminating any fears a cook
might have. It’s also to one’s advantage to do a bit of research and have fun
trying different recipes.
There are many books on the subject, starting with a long list of titles to explore online, at independent books stores, and occasionally at
thrift stops. There are also Facebook groups and YouTube videos to help by
demonstrating step-by-step instructions for both savory and sweet creations.
Here’s a light and delicious recipe for a summertime treat using raspberries, but other fruits can be substituted. It’s all up to one’s imagination!
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
2 tablespoons orange juice — optional
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon melted butter to grease the ramekins.
2 tablespoons granulated sugar to coat the ramekins.
4 tablespoons powdered sugar for garnishing
12 fresh raspberries for garnishing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
4 ramekin dishes
2 medium-sized ceramic or stainless-steel bowls
A TIP: For ease and efficiency, gather and mix the ingredients the day before serving. Cover and refrigerate overnight, then bring the bowl to room temperature.
Brush the four ramekins with melted butter and dust with granulated sugar on the inside. Shake off excess sugar. Set them aside on a baking sheet.
Put the raspberries in a food processor and add orange juice. Once puréed, pour the mixture through a fine sieve, separating the seeds from the purée. Set aside.
Separate the eggs.
In one bowl, whisk the egg yolks while adding the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk until the mixture is pale and thick. Stir in the lemon juice and raspberry purée. Set aside.
In another bowl, add the salt and cream of tartar to the egg whites. Begin mixing at a low speed with an electric handheld or standing mixer. Increase speed gradually to medium-high until glossy peaks appear. Do not overmix.
Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk and raspberry mixture, a third at a time.
Gently pour the mixture into the ramekins on the baking sheet. A trick that some cooks do at this point is taking a knife and running it across the top of the mixture, giving it a smooth and level appearance as it rises.
Place on the lower shelf in the oven. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove when lightly browned on the top.
Dust each soufflé with powdered sugar and garnish with raspberries.
If desired, accompany the soufflés with a prepared or storebought raspberry or vanilla cream sauce, warmed and served in a pitcher. Rave reviews will surely follow as spoons dip into this summertime delicacy!
CAPPY TOSETTI lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her three rescue dogs that help her with Happy with Cappy Pet Sitting. She’s putting things
in motion to someday crisscross the country in a vintage travel trailer visiting draft horse and goat farms. email@example.com