The idea of savoury cakes has always excited me: such things as cheese and bacon muffins just sound so yummy. I’ve had this soufflé recipe for quite a while now and simply haven’t got round to making it. It was emailed to me from Acer Suppers and is originally a Delia recipe.
This is a Delia recipe, and although she uses Roquefort cheese, it works equally as well with a strong mature cheddar.
6oz (175g) Mature Cheddar.
8 fl oz (225ml) Milk.
¼ inch (5mm) onion slice.
1 bay leaf.
Grating of nutmeg.
6 whole black peppercorns.
1 ½ oz (40g) butter.
1 ½ oz (40g) plain flour.
4, large eggs, separated.
5 fl oz (150ml) double cream.
Salt and freshly milled black pepper.
You will need six ramekins with a 3 inch (7.5 cm) diameter, 1 ½ inches (4cm deep) lightly buttered.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 350F/ 180oc.
Begin by heating the milk, onion, bay leaf, nutmeg and peppercorns in a medium-sized saucepan till it reaches simmering point, then strain the milk into a jug, discarding the rest.
Rinse out the saucepan then melt the butter in it. Add the flour and stir to a smooth, glossy paste, and cook this for 3 minutes, still stirring, until it turns a pale straw colour. Then gradually add the strained milk, whisking all the time, until the sauce is thick and cleanly leaves the sides of the pan. Then season lightly and cook the sauce on the gentlest heat possible for 2 minutes, stirring now and then. (I thought mine was too thick and added more milk, but it should be a stiff roux.)
Next remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Now crumble 4oz (110g) of the cheese into the mixture and stir until most of it has melted - don’t worry if some of the cheese is still visible. Put a kettle on to boil and, in a spanking clean large bowl, whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage, then fold a spoonful of egg white into the cheese sauce to loosen it. Now fold the sauce into the egg white using a large metal spoon and a cutting and folding motion.
Divide the mixture equally between the ramekins. Put them in a baking tin and place it on the centre shelf of the oven and pour about ½ inch (1cm) of boiling water into the tin. Bake the soufflés for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack (using a fish slice) so they don’t continue cooking.
When they are almost cold, run a small palette knife around the edge of each ramekin and carefully turn the soufflés out onto the palm of your hand, then place them the right way up on a lightly greased, shallow baking tray. They can now be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours, lightly covered with cling film if you wish.
When you are ready to re-heat the soufflés, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350F (180o/c) and remove the soufflés from the fridge so they can return to room temperature. Dice the remaining cheese and sprinkle on top of the soufflés and place them in the oven for about 30 minutes.
2 or 3 minutes before serving spoon a tablespoon of cream over each soufflé and return them to the oven. Serve the soufflés immediately on warm plates.
They really are very tasty, and although quite ‘phaffy’, very easy too. Just don’t make the mistake I did of making a little hole in the middle of each to pour the cream into – they deflate rather quickly!