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Soufflé

This basic soufflé recipe is an excellent example of how successfully maize meal (or cornmeal) can be used as a substitute for wheat flour. No matter how simple, a soufflé is always impressive, but there are many interesting possibilities when it comes to selecting flavourings. Make sure your sauce is thick initially, and then lightened by the stiffly beaten egg whites. This produces a well risen soufflé that makes an ideal first course or lunch dish.

Image of Soufflé
Ingredients

25 g butter, plus extra for greasing
25 g maize meal (or cornmeal)
250 ml milk
4 eggs, medium-sized, separated
100 g flavouring such as grated cheddar cheese, fish or puréed vegetables
Seasonings, such as salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg or a herb, where appropriate
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan Cheese or 1 tablespoon polenta

Details

Serves: 4


Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Grease a 1.5 litre soufflé dish with a little melted butter. Melt the remaining butter in a large pan and stir in the maize meal. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring continuously until it is blended smoothly with the maize meal. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly this prevents lumps from forming in the sauce. Set aside to allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Mix in the egg yolks, the flavouring and seasonings. Make sure you select seasonings that work well with your chosen flavouring. For instance, nutmeg works well with the flavours of cheese and smoked fish, and herbs such as parsley go well with puréed vegetables. Salt and pepper work well with most flavours.

Beat the egg whites (which should be at room temperature) until stiff and dry. Fold a little of the beaten egg whites into the sauce, then carefully fold in the rest. Take care not to knock the air out of the egg whites as you mix them in, as it is the air that causes the soufflé to rise and gives it the light, airy texture it is known for.

Sprinkle either the freshly grated Parmesan cheese or polenta into the base of the greased dish this keeps the soufflé mixture stuck to the sides of the dish as it cooks, which helps it to rise. Pour in the soufflé mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes make sure the soufflé does not overcook and become dry. Wobble the dish carefully to check whether or not the centre is set. Serve immediately.

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