Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Hold Your Breath

Yesterday, Ian and I made a souffle.

It. Was. Awesome.

Granted, our souffle was a little firmer than the French might like, with a slightly browner crown, but boy, was it good. It puffed up nicely. It didn't fall. It was like eating light, fluffy, cheesy, crusty, eggy heaven.

Of course, this souffle didn't come without a little strife. Ian prepped the ingredients but didn't read the recipe, so when I came into the kitchen a lot of things weren't ready. We had to move fast. We had to whisk and grate and measure all at the same time. All four arms were moving in fast-motion, blurring like some crazy many-armed cooking machine.

OK. It wasn't exactly a cartoon. It would be cool if our arms would blur like the roadrunner's legs as he zooms past Wile E. Coyote, but alas, we are not animated. Still, we were working at top speed.

If anything surprised me the most about this souffle, it was actually how easy it was to make. So many cooks treat souffles like finicky bits of the Divine, whose wrath will be brought down from the sky should a wrong move be made. Sure, you have to get the egg whites to the right consistency. Anyone who's ever made a meringue or Divinity or even Angel Food Cake has done that. Sure, you have to make a cheese sauce with a roux. Anyone who's ever made white sauce, homemade mac 'n' cheese, or a pot pie can do that. It's precise, don't get me wrong. It is baking, after all, even if you choose a savory flavor like the cheese souffle Ian and I made last night. But there are so many myths about souffle-making, it's nuts!

Here are just a few:

*If you make a lot of noise while a souffle is baking, it will fall.
*If you slam the oven door, the souffle will fall.
*If you look at the oven the wrong way, the souffle will fall.

OK, so I made that last one up. But sneezing, coughing, laughing, stomping: all have been blamed for the souffle's deflation. And it's just not true, people! Souffles are puffy because of the air you whip into the egg whites and the protein, mixed with the cream of tartar you should be mixing your whites with, should be enough to keep that air where you put it. True, you do need to be careful when mixing your flavor base into your egg whites. FOLD GENTLY or the whites will deflate, making your souffle a lot less ethereal than you would like. But people, don't hold your breath for the sake of your souffle. It isn't worth the brain damage.


  1. i'ver never tried one. i think i will do it this week. thanks!

  2. Make sure you have the right cooking vessel! Round, rough-interiored baking dish.