Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you souffle is easy to make. But I do want to tell you that it is easier than you think. I laid out my simple souffle method years ago. If the idea still intimidates you, twice baked souffle is for you. Truthfully, I may like this version better than the standard because of the creamy sauce. Rescuing deflated souffle with a rich sauce makes this dish almost fool proof. And best of all, you can make it in advance (up to a day!).
I used to go to this fancy country house hotel in England with a school friend (before it got so chic the prices hit the roof). It was, at the time, all comfortable chintz chairs and wood paneled nooks. The dining room was pure elegance, fine linens and heavy silver, with some of the best service I had yet experienced. The famous dish was a twice baked emmenthal souffle that was impossibly light but decadently rich. I have never forgotten that dish but always assumed such a creation was way above my skill set. It simply remained in my memory as a treasured meal. Not too long ago, I started seeing recipes for twice-baked souffle in food magazines (mostly British) then online. I clipped and saved them, but still worried about my skills. I was prompted to try the recipe when I needed to prepare an elegant luncheon. I practiced and had amazing results, so good I thought maybe it was fluke. But on the day, the results were perfect and incredibly impressive. I have served versions of these at that elegant luncheon accompanied by poached shrimp and roasted vine tomatoes but also more casually at a family dinner with a big salad to share.
I think the stilton and leek combination is packed with flavor and very elegant, but you can change things up with different cheese, herbs or spices. I have little shallow dishes that are perfect for individual servings, but you can also transfer the cooked souffles to one large baking dish and pour over the cream.
Twice Baked Leek and Stilton Soufflé
2 leeks, white and palest green parts only
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous grinds of black pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
3 ounces stilton, crumbled, plus some for topping
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 425°. Spray 6 8-ounce ramekins with baking spray, such as Bakers Joy and set in a deep roasting pan.
- Cut the leeks in half, then cut into then half-moons. Rinse well in a colander under cold water and shake to remove as much water as you can. Melt one Tablespoon butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, then add the leeks and sauté until soft and glassy, but not browning. Remove the leeks to a medium bowl and set aside. Wipe out the saucepan, then melt the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until lightly foaming. Add the flour and whisk until smooth and pale, about 4 minutes. Pour in the milk and whisk until the mixture comes to a heavy bubble and thickens. Whisk in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the leeks until evenly distributed, then return 1/3 of the mixture to the bowl the leeks were in and set aside. Whisk the crumbled Stilton into the sauce until melted and smooth and remove from the heat. Whisk in the egg yolks until fully incorporated, then transfer the mixture to a very large bowl.
- Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until very stiff peaks form. When you lift up the beater, the peak in the whites should not flop over. Scoop 1/3 of the whites into the bowl with the creamy base and stir it in until incorporated and the mixture has loosened up a bit. Gently fold in the next third of the whites, being careful not to deflate the whites too much. Make sure you reach the mixture in the bottom of the bowl. Fold in the last of the whites in the same way.
- Bring a kettle of water to the boil while you proceed. Divide the souffle mixture between the prepared ramekins (I find a ladle a great tool for this), then lightly smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Run your finger around the edge of each souffle leaving a little channel, wiping your finger well between dishes. This will help the soufflé rise evenly. Put the roasting dish in the oven, then pour the boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the soufflés are browned and risen and set inside, about 25 minutes. Remove them from the oven, the remove the individual ramekins from the water to a wire rack to cool. You can use tongs and a spatula to help with this.
- While the soufflés are baking, stir the one cup of heavy cream into the reserved leek mixture, cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready for the second baking.
- Now comes the scary part. Your souffles with deflate completely when they cool and it will look like you’ve completely failed, but you have only just begun. When the soufflés are cool, run a knife around the edges and turn them out onto individual shallow dishes or one large baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425°. Pour the reserved leek cream sauce over the soufflés, either dividing it evenly between individuals or over the top of them all in the baking dish. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until they have magically puffed up and heated through. Serve immediately, sprinkled with some extra crumbled Stilton.