Bill Oglethorpe shares his recipe for cheese soufflé, as recreated by Victoria Brown
This recipe was inspired by my interview with Bill Oglethorpe of Kappacasein.
“My father used to make a soufflé and that’s an incredible transformation,” says Bill. “It’s quite magical to see it rise in the oven. It was a special event.” Did his father make it for special occasions? “No—I mean, it was an occasion because the soufflé made it special.”
This was my first time making soufflé. Despite being a competent cook, I have always been terrified of the prospect. It turns out there’s no need to be; if you follow the instructions carefully, it will work just fine. However, timing is everything—a hot soufflé will last at most 5 mins out of the oven, so have your plates, sides and guests ready.
Bill’s father made a cheese soufflé with a béchamel base and a little Dijon mustard. He always served it with fresh tomatoes, crusty bread and butter.
For the tomato salad:
1 small garlic clove
Pinch rock salt
1 tsp Dijon
½ tsp red or sherry vinegar
60ml olive oil
500g fresh tomatoes, sliced or diced
For the soufflé:
40g butter, plus extra for greasing
40g plain flour
200ml whole milk
100g cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs (room temperature), separated
2 tsp Dijon mustard
50g parmesan, grated
For the tomato salad, first make the dressing: crush the garlic with rock salt using a fork to mash it. Add to a small bowl with the Dijon mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to form an emulsified dressing. Just before serving the souffle, whisk again and toss with the sliced or chopped tomatoes.
For the soufflé, preheat the oven to 220C. Butter 8 individual ramekins or 1 large soufflé dish and place in the fridge.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and whisk it in. Cook for a few mins, whisking frequently. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Allow it to thicken a little, then add the cheese and whisk until melted.
Remove the béchamel from the heat, allow to cool slightly then whisk in the egg yolks and Dijon. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. You can make the béchamel and egg yolk base in advance, but the egg whites must be whisked and added to the mix just before cooking.
Remove the soufflé moulds from the fridge and butter again with melted butter, then coat with parmesan.
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Make sure the béchamel is still a little warm (if not, gently warm it). Whisk a small amount of the egg whites into the béchamel to slacken it.
Gently fold in the rest of the mixture until just incorporated. Be very gentle when folding in the egg whites—you want as much air in them as possible.
Pour the mixture into the mould(s) until it is about ¾ full. If you want a flat top, fill the mould to the brim and use a palette knife to flatten it.
If cooking individual soufflés, cook them at 220C for 2 mins, then reduce the temperature to 200C and cook for a further 10 mins. If cooking one large soufflé, cook for 5 mins at 220C then reduce the temperature to 200C and cook for a further 25 mins. Never open the oven or the soufflé(s) will not rise.
Serve immediately with the tomato salad, fresh bread and butter.
Recipe: Bill Oglethorpe
Images: Victoria Brown