Light but incredibly flavoursome, this French classic is made truly memorable by the wonderful combination of cheddar, Gruyère and Parmesan, along with the Dijon mustard and hint of cayenne. The soufflés make a wonderful start to a meal or a light lunch when served with a classic leaf salad.
- melted butter, to grease
- 2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs, to coat
- 2 ½ tbsp butter
- 2 ½ tbsp plain flour
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 50 g vintage cheddar, finely shredded
- 50 g Gruyère, finely shredded
- 50 g Parmesan, finely grated
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped chives
- 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 190°C. Brush four individual 250 ml (1 cup) ramekins or soufflé dishes with the butter to grease well and then sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, turning to coat the dishes to coat well, tapping out any excess breadcrumbs. Place on an oven tray and set aside.
Combine the cheddar, Gruyère, Parmesan and set 2 tablespoons of this mixture aside for sprinkling the tops of the soufflés.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat until foaming. Add the flour and stir with a balloon whisk for about 1 minute until the mixture is bubbling and leaves the sides of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add half the milk, stirring constantly with the whisk until smooth. Gradually add the remaining milk, stirring until smooth. Return the pan to a medium heat, and stir constantly with the whisk until the sauce thickens and starts to simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
Transfer the sauce immediately to a heatproof bowl and stir in the cheddar, Gruyère and Parmesan mixture, the Dijon mustard, cayenne, chives and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the egg yolks and stir until well combined. Stir in the chives and parsley.
Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form. Add about a quarter of the whisked egg whites to the cheese sauce and use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold together until just combined to loosen the mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined (the mixture should appear to have streaks of egg whites through it but there should be no large clumps of egg white).
Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared dishes. Sprinkle with the reserved 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the soufflés are well risen and cooked through (they should still wobble slightly when the dishes are tapped and an inserted skewer should come out clean but slightly moist). Serve immediately.
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Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Kristine Duran-Thiessen. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: baking like a French housewife.