In preparing for this Cheddar Corn Soufflé recipe, I was a little nervous–all those wives-tales about soufflés falling if you make too much noise or turn on the light or look at it the wrong way… Were they true?? The recipe is housed in the Cheese chapter of Baked Elements, and so far BAKED’s cheese recipes have yielded some life-changing grits and focaccia, so I was optimistic about this recipe, despite my trepidation. Baked Sunday Mornings always keeps things interesting in my kitchen! I am pleased to report that my soufflé anguish was all for naught– it was beautiful, delicious, and surprisingly easy. It can be served for brunch, lunch, or dinner, any of which of which would be lovely; the book also suggests it as a dessert course, but I found it way too savory to replace something like CHOCOLATE. (Maybe substituting a sweet cheese for the cheddar could work, but it’s still a long-shot for this girl with a mean sweet tooth!) I served the soufflé for dinner alongside rotisserie chicken and roasted asparagus, which was a lovely combination, especially the asparagus. The soufflé is light and fluffy, yet rich, so it’s nice to serve it with other items… though let’s be honest– I probably could’ve put away that whole dish myself. 😉
The word soufflé is the past tense form of the French verb souffler (pronounced ‘soo-FLAY’… just like soufflé), which means to blow out or puff up– a very appropriate way to describe the metamorphosis of a soufflé. What defines a soufflé exactly? It consists of whipped egg whites folded into a custard-like base, which may be flavored with either sweet or savory ingredients. When baked in the oven, the mixture puffs up into creamy, fluffy, decadent awesomeness. Despite studying French for many years and even spending a year of college abroad in Paris, I have never made a soufflé. I took a class and bought a soufflé dish at least 10 years ago with the intention of trying them at home, but so far that dish has mostly acted as an elegant vessel for serving other things! Soufflés seem like something extremely temperamental and complicated with a high chance of disaster; I was pleasantly surprised that this was not at all the case here– the only slight snafu that I encountered was underbaking, but I was able to rectify that easily.
This cheesy soufflé is made by cooking a simple béchamel sauce (making a roux of butter and flour and adding milk), to which you add spices –fresh nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper– and egg yolks.
This vibrant yellow mixture comprises the soufflé base. The next addition is whipped egg whites, followed by extra-sharp cheddar cheese and corn kernels for flavor. This “batter” is then poured into a parmesan-dusted soufflé dish and baked for 30-35 minutes to golden brown, puffed loveliness.
A few tips for success with this recipe:
- The book says to cook the soufflé base for 8-10 minutes once you’ve added the milk to the roux; my mixture thickened and started bubbling very quickly; I gave it about 4 minutes– and even that was pushing it!
- There are few things that I dread more in the kitchen than cracking/separating eggs and whipping egg whites. The latter always strikes fear into my heart because I’m worried about over- or under-whipping, and sometimes I get unmixed egg whites left in the bottom of the bowl when I use my stand mixer (which of course I realize when it’s too late). I recently learned a clever trick to prevent that pool of liquid at the bottom: When putting the whisk attachment in place, *don’t* turn it to the lock position. Allowing the whisk to hang down all the way to the bottom of the bowl allows it to whip up every last bit of egg. I was concerned that my whisk would go flying across the kitchen or something, but it was perfectly fine! 🙂
- Fold in your egg whites very gently with a rubber spatula to avoid deflating the mixture before it goes in the oven.
- Although the urban legends are not true, and although the book doesn’t specifically mention it, I would avoid opening the oven door while the soufflé is baking. The one thing that can deflate it is rapid temperature change.
Although the soufflé is fairly straightforward to make, it is very much a last-minute dish. It should come out of the oven beautifully puffed and golden, but it will slowly deflate within several minutes, so it should be served immediately. The only slight mishap that I had was when I dipped into it with a serving spoon– it was a little soupy about ⅔ of the way down. The exterior looked done and the structure seemed set after 30 minutes, so I removed the dish from the oven; however, once I cut it open, I discovered that it needed a few more minutes. No matter, the top part was happily gobbled up and I put the soufflé back in the oven for another 5 minutes. This did the trick, cooking the soupy batter just enough; the soufflé-devouring then resumed to the bottom of the dish. 🙂
The soufflé was eggy, rich, and ethereal in texture– gingerly dipping my fork into the fluffy goodness felt like a guilty pleasure…. This is such a lovely dish that I highly recommend, whether you are a seasoned baker or a soufflé novice! (Plus it looks wicked fancy, so guests will be very impressed by your culinary prowess if you serve this. ;-)) One more thing: while baking, it develops a deep golden “crust” all the way around the sides and bottom, which is not only delicious, but also makes for easy cleanup.
You can find the Cheddar Corn Soufflé recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings, and take a peek at the others bakers’ gorgeous French creations too!
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2013.