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La Belle Cuisine
Julia Child on
The Way to Cook
© 1989 by Julia Child (A Borzoi Book
published by Alfred A.
“The soufflé is undoubtedly the egg at its most
magnificent, the egg in all its
puffing power. How impressive is the chocolate or cheese soufflé, its head
rising dramatically out of its dish, and swaying ever so slightly as it is borne
to the table.
Fortunately, a reasonably well-assembled soufflé can be an automatic
stance: a flavor base into which beaten egg whites are incorporated. When
mixture is baked, the heat of the oven expands the air bubbles in the egg
and the whole mass rises. It stays puffed the few minutes needed to serve
as it cools, the air bubbles deflate and the soufflé collapses.
not difficult when you have mastered the beating of egg whites and
into the soufflé base.”
The egg whites
[A typical Julia lesson – everything you
ever wanted to know about beat-
ing egg whites…Thank you Julia!] Stiffly beaten
egg whites have multiple
uses, from spongecakes to floating island to soufflés.
Again the bowl
and beater are of great importance. They must be clean, with no
of oil or grease, and not even a speck of egg yolk should be among the
whites since oil, grease,
and yolk prevent the whites from mounting into
a mass of tiny bubbles.
Whether or not you are using a copper bowl, it’s a good idea to pour a
tablespoon of vinegar into the bowl and a teaspoon of salt. Rub the bowl
clean with paper towels, but do not wash it – the traces of vinegar and
help stabilize the egg whites.
Turn the egg whites into the bowl and if they are chilled, set the bowl in
larger bowl of warm water for a minute or two, until your impeccably
finger feels them to be of room temperature. Chilled whites do not
and tend to fleck.
Using a giant balloon whip, or a hand-held electric mixer, or a mixer on a
stand, start beating the egg whites at moderately slow speed until they are
foaming throughout – 2 minutes or so. Add a pinch of salt (unless you
rubbed the bowl with salt before you started in,) and add [the] cream
– a stabilizer. Gradually increase the speed to fast (moderately fast
have a heavy-duty mixer) and continue until soft peaks are formed.
beat in the 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue until stiff shining
Folding – combining the egg whites and the soufflé base
For maximum puff,
the beautifully beaten egg whites must retain their
volume when they are
incorporated. To help retain it, a quarter of the
whites are stirred into the
base to lighten it so that the remainder may
be folded in easily.
[Another great lesson from Julia]: You can beat your egg whites to perfec-
But unless you fold them rapidly and expertly into your cake or soufflé
you will deflate them and neither your cake nor your soufflé will rise
proper height. Here’s how:
Have your… soufflé batter in a roomy pan or bowl. Stir a quarter of the egg
whites into the batter to loosen it – an important point, since if the batter is
stiff, you will deflate the egg whites as you attempt to blend them. Then turn
of the egg whites on top. Plunge a large rubber spatula sideways, like
down through the center of the egg whites to the bottom of the pan
[illustration included in cookbook]. Rapidly bring the spatula to the near edge
of the pan,
and rotate it so its flat side brings some of the batter up over the
Rotate the pan slightly, and rapidly repeat the plunging-scooping
turn of the
spatula 7 to 8 times, until the egg whites and batter are blended –
do not over-
blend or you will deflate the egg whites.
When is it done?
A soufflé baked in a
dish should puff 2 to 3 inches over the rim, and the
top should be nicely browned. The puff should hold up when you release
the collar just a little bit to check – if the puff sags, rapidly refasten the
and bake a few minutes more. If you want the puff to hold and
to stand a reasonable time, test it by plunging a skewer down
into the side
of the puff: if wet particles cling to it the soufflé will be
creamy inside and
will not hold as long as if the skewer comes out
almost clear. The fateful
decision is up to you.
For drama, you
choose a dish that’s a little too small, so that the soufflé
puffs into a collar. When the collar is removed the puff holds itself 2 to
inches over the rim of the dish. Use a double thickness of buttered foil
will rise 3 inches over the top of the dish; secure the collar by insert-
straight pin head down – for easy removal.
baked in a dish, soufflé toppings, and soufflé roulades
“The basic soufflé is a white sauce –
béchamel – enriched with
and cheese, into which beaten egg whites are folded.”
Timing: You will undoubtedly feel safer hovering over your oven during
first soufflé experiences. After two or three you’ll have the confi-
timer and take yourself off until it summons you back
into the kitchen.
For a 1-quart
baking dish 8 inches across, serving 4
tablespoons finely grated Parmesan or
other hard cheese
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup hot milk
Seasonings: 1/2 teaspoon paprika, speck of nutmeg,
1/2 teaspoon salt,
and 3 grinds of white pepper
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites (2/3 cup)
1 cup (3 1/2 ounces coarsely grated Swiss cheese
Suggested: A buttered baking dish 7 1/2 to 8 inches
top diameter, 3 inches deep; aluminum foil; a heavy-bottomed 2 1/2-quart
saucepan; a wire whisk, wooden spoon, and large rubber spatula; egg-white
Roll the grated cheese in the buttered baking dish to cover
the bottom and side, and fasten on the aluminum collar (see Special Note).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and set the rack in the lower third level.
Measure out all the ingredients listed [mise
The white sauce –
béchamel. Following [these detailed directions] stir and
cook the butter
and flour together in the saucepan over moderate heat for 2
coloring. Remove from heat, let cool a moment, then pour
in all the hot milk and whisk vigorously to blend. Return to heat, stirring
with a wooden spoon, and boil slowly 3 minutes. The sauce will be very
thick. Whisk in the seasonings and remove from the heat.
Finishing the sauce base. One by one, whisk the egg yolks into the
The egg whites. In a clean separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg
whites to stiff shining peaks as described [above].
Finishing the soufflé mixture. Scoop a quarter of the egg whites on top
the sauce and stir them in with a wooden spoon. Turn the rest of the
on top; rapidly and delicately fold them in, alternating scoops
of the spatula
with sprinkles of the coarsely grated cheese – adding the
cheese now makes for a
Ahead-of-time note: You may complete the soufflé to this point 1/2 hour
or so in advance; cover loosely with a sheet of foil and set away from drafts.
Baking – 25 to 30
minutes at 400 degrees F and 375 degrees F. Set in
the preheated oven, turn the thermostat down to 375 degrees F, and bake
until the soufflé has puffed 2 to 3 inches over the rim of the baking dish
into the collar, and the top has browned nicely (see “When is it done?”
notes preceding this section).
Serving. As soon as it is done, remove the collar, then bring the soufflé
the table. To keep the puff standing, hold your serving spoon and
upright and back to back; plunge them into the crust and tear it
[illustrated in cookbook].
Spinach or Broccoli
After completing the white sauce, stir in 1/4 to 1.3 cup of
chopped fresh spinach or broccoli that you have warmed in butter,
shallots and seasonings. Cut down on the grated Swiss cheese –
to 1/2 cup
Crab, Lobster, or
Substitute finely chopped or finely diced shellfish for the
the preceding suggestion. A
Hollandaise sauce or…
white butter sauce…
would be attractive accompaniments.
Salmon Soufflé (or
other cooked fish)
Stir flaked cooked salmon or other fish, or canned salmon, into
white sauce. Two or three tablespoons of shallots sautéed in butter
are often helpful for fish other than salmon, as well as a spoonful or two of
fresh dill or parsley. In some instances you may wish to accompany the
soufflé with a lightly cooked fresh tomato sauce… or a colorful piperade
(sautéed onions with strips of red and green peppers…).
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