Simple Vanilla Soufflé

Professor of baking and author Richard Bertinet

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Simple Vanilla Soufflé recipe

Simple Vanilla Soufflé

If you have never made a soufflé before, you probably won't believe me when I say that it’s easier than you'd expect.

There is a kind of mythology around soufflés that make people scared to even try them, but if you avoid over-whisking your mixture and prepare your ramekins with care, it should be just fine. No need to worry if you don’t end up with perfect looking chef's hats: the ones you make will look all the more interesting for not being quite so regimented. I don't like my soufflés to be cooked to the point where I feel I’m eating only air. I quite like a little creaminess inside… some substance to it. Remember that the mixture is already cooked before it goes in the oven. Makes 4 individual servings.

U.S. Measurements

  • 1 vanilla pod/bean
  • 5 eggs (preferably free range)
  • ⅓ cup caster sugar
  • ¼ cup plain flour
  • 1 cup and 1 tablespoon full fat milk
  • a little powdered sugar to serve for the ramekins
  • about 1 tbsp butter
  • about ¼ cup caster sugar

E.U. Measurements

  • 1 vanilla pod/bean
  • 5 eggs (preferably free range)
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 25g plain flour
  • 250g full fat milk
  • a little icing sugar to serve for the ramekins
  • about 15g butter
  • about 40g caster sugar

Pre-heat the oven to:
200 degrees Centigrade or
400 degrees Fahrenheit

Prepare 4 ramekins or other small soufflé dishes. Take your time to do this, as it will make all the difference to how your soufflés rise.

Melt the butter and brush over the inside of each ramekin. Tip 2 teaspoons of caster sugar into each ramekin and roll it around so the sugar coats the buttered surface evenly and completely. Tip out any excess sugar.

Split the vanilla pod along its length.

Separate the eggs. You will need 5 whites and 3 yolks in separate mixing bowls. Make sure the bowl you put the whites into is really clean because any touch of grease, from handling the butter for example, will stop the whites from peaking properly.

Put the sugar into the bowl with the egg yolks and whisk for a couple of minutes until they turn a very pale straw color and have a creamy mousse-like appearance.

Sprinkle in the flour, whisking again.

Pour the milk into a heavy-based pan over medium heat. Scrape in the vanilla seeds and put the pod in as well. Just before the milk reaches boiling point—when it is shivering and tiny bubbles want to appear—take it off the heat. Pour it over the egg yolk mixture a little at a time, whisking continuously. Discard the vanilla pod. Pour the mixture back into the pan and bring up to the boil, whisking all the time. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, still whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and transfer to a clean bowl.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks—either with a wire balloon whisk or with an electric one. Again, make sure whatever you use has no grease on it so that the eggs firm up really well. Soft peaks mean that the whites look frothy and hold their shape if you draw them into peaks. They won't form stiff peaks—that only happens when you add sugar.

Using the whisk, quickly mix about a third of the whites into the cream mixture. Don't whisk madly, as you don't want to knock the air out of the whites. Then, with a metal spoon, gently fold in the remaining two thirds of the whites. The gentle folding-in of the egg whites is key.

Put the ramekins on a baking tray so they are easy to put into and take out of the oven. Fill each one to the top and smooth the surface a little. Then, with a piece of kitchen paper, wipe the rims so they are nice and clean. This is important because if there are bits of mixture on the rim, the soufflés might catch on them and then won't rise properly.

Put the tray in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for about 15 minutes. For the first 5 minutes, when the soufflés are starting to lift, don't open the oven door! The loss of heat will stop the soufflés from rising evenly. When they’re done, they will have risen quite high and be a caramel brown color on top, but still white on the sides.

Take the tray from the oven. Dust the tops with icing sugar and serve immediately.