Soufflés can be very temperamental, can’t they? Here’s the thing, though: yes, it’s a bit tricky, but it’s not magic either! Take this Spinach & Gruyère Soufflé. It’s light and fluffy with the lovely taste of spinach enhanced by piquant Gruyère and a touch of garlic and nutmeg. It’s the total taste and texture package and you need to give it a try! Can you imagine how pleased you’ll be when these beauties come out of the oven?
There are a few secrets to a good soufflé and I’m going to lay them out for you, right here and now:
In this case, with a spinach soufflé, make sure that the spinach is very dry. We do not want unnecessary moisture!
Your eggs should be at room temperature.
Make sure to separate the eggs cleanly. Even a drop of yolk in the whites can make it harder, if not impossible, to beat the whites into stiff peaks.
Likewise make sure that the mixing bowl is very clean and dry, metal is best.
Once the egg whites form stiff peaks, fold them into the spinach mixture right away, they start losing those lovely air bubbles fast.
When I say fold in gently, I really mean gently! The trick is to add the stiff egg whites into the bowl and then drag a rubber spatula from the bottom of the bowl to the top, folding what you’ve dragged up from the bottom of the bowl over the egg whites. Repeat, gently, until there are no large streaks of egg white left. Then step away! The last thing we need is to mix overzealously, that will make the airy egg whites collapse.
Only use soufflé dishes or ramekins with straight sides. This will help the soufflé rise more easily.
Don’t skip the step of flouring the ramekins. The flour helps the soufflé mixture cling to the sides and rise higher.
Don’t overcook the soufflé! Once it’s past a certain height, it will deflate.
Please do not open the oven door to check on the soufflé. The cold air makes sad looking soufflés.
Serve immediately out of the oven for maximum effect.
Now go forth and conquer the soufflé!
Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main with a side salad, just adjust your baking dish. You can also halve the recipe.
16 oz. (450g) frozen spinach
½ cup (75g) grated Gruyère
4¼ tablespoons (60g) butter, plus more for buttering the ramekins
4 tablespoons all purpose flour plus more for dusting the ramekins
4 eggs at room temperature, whites and yolks separated
3 cups (700ml) milk
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
Place the spinach in a large pot and pour boiling water over it to thaw.
Drain well, pressing down into the colander with a wooden spoon to remove excess water.
Dump onto a wad of paper towels and press down to remove as much water as you can. Discard paper towels and repeat with fresh ones until spinach is dry.
Chop finely with a large knife.
In a large pot, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour and whisk until thick and combined.
Add the milk, bit by bit, whisking until combined. When you have used up all the milk, bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking often to prevent sticking or burning. Simmer and whisk until the mixture has thickened considerably, 4-5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Stir in Gruyère, salt, garlic powder and a pinch of nutmeg. Add a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper.
Let the mixture cool down, then stir in the egg yolks.
Butter 8 8oz. (200ml) ovenproof ramekins or one large baking dish. Add some flour to each ramekin or baking dish and tap around gently until the flour evenly coats the butter.
In a very clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold a third of the beaten egg whites into the spinach mixture gently with a rubber spatula.
Add the remaining egg whites, then fold in gently until there are no large streaks of egg white left. Don’t overmix, otherwise your soufflé(s) will not rise! We need the air bubbles in the beaten egg whites to stay intact.
Ladle into the prepared form(s) and smooth out the top.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-17 minutes for smaller ramekins and 20-25 minutes for a larger baking dish until puffed and golden brown on top. Do not open the oven door or the cold air will make the soufflés deflate! Keep an eye on them through the closed oven door, you also do not want to overcook them as overcooking will cause deflation as well.
Serve immediately for the most impressive results as (you almost guessed it, right?) the soufflé will deflate quickly.