My Big Fat Cheese Soufflé Mess-up


Making a soufflé is kind of a pain in the neck. While it’s baking you can’t dance or breathe because it might deflate like a balloon. If it does, more than likely you’ll through a hissy fit because it takes some skill to get everything just right in its preparation. But it is SO worth it and can be interesting and fun to make. Of course I use Julia’s Child’s Cheese Soufflé recipe whenever I make one (see recipe below the photos). This time I added mushroom duxelles which is basically minced mushroom sautéed in butter with vermouth, shallots and thyme. It came out good, not excellent. I over-baked it, but it tasted great.

I did hesitate to blog about this because it didn’t look as golden and perfect as I wanted it to. I am a show off when it comes to my food. But you know what? Who cares? All of us make mistakes when we cook, okay, okay, okay, granted I make very few ha ha ha!  –Anyway, I decided while devouring my over-baked soufflé that flaunting my culinary mistakes would be good for my soul. And also in the spirit of Julia Child I would surmise that if her soufflé came out a little browner than she expected, she would have served it anyway, and with a smile. And so I did the same.

Enjoy the photos, and please know that once in a while it’s okay to screw up when you cook. It is only human. And guess what? Sometimes I really dislike photos of perfect food,  it looks like plastic to me.  –Blah.     BON APPÉTIT!


JULIA CHILD’S – Cheese Soufflé
Serves: 6 / Preparation time: 30 minutes / Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Room temperature butter (about 1 tablespoon), for greasing mold and collar
2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Grating of nutmeg
6 large egg yolks
7 large egg whites
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
Arrange oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Butter a 6 or 8 cup souffle mold and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the bottom and sides. Cut a length of parchment paper or foil long enough to wrap around the mold with a 2-inch overlap. Fold the sheet in half lengthwise for a 6- to 8-inch band, and butter it well on one side.
To prepare the béchamel, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth paste. Cook for about 2 minutes without allowing it to color.
Remove the pan from the heat, let it cool a moment, stirring, then pour in all of the hot milk at once, whisking rapidly to blend. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring and clearing the sides of the pan with the whisk.
Cook for 2 minutes, whisking, as the béchamel bubbles slowly and becomes as thick as mayonnaise. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg.
One at a time, whisk in the egg yolks.
In a large, perfectly clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they’re stiff.
Scoop one-quarter of the egg whites into the béchamel and whisk into the warm sauce to lighten it. Then scrape about one-third of the lightened sauce back over the egg whites in the mixing bowl and sprinkle on a good handful of the grated Gruyere cheese. Fold in the sauce and cheese by rapidly cutting down to the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then drawing the beaten whites up from the bottom and sides, and turning them over into the sauce blend.
When almost blended, fold in half of the rest of the sauce and Gruyere cheese, then the remaining sauce and cheese. Work rapidly, and do not over-blend.
Scrape the soufflé mixture into the mold. Smooth the top, wrap the parchment band, buttered side in, around the mold to form a tight collar, rising 3 or 4 inches above the top. Fasten at the overlap with 2 straight pins. (The unbaked soufflé can stand at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes, away from drafts.)
When ready to bake, place the soufflé on the rack in the lower third of the preheated oven.
Bake the soufflé for 45 minutes or more, until it has puffed about 2 inches into the collar and the top is nicely browned and slightly firm to the touch.
To check whether it is done, open the oven quickly and plunge a long skewer into the side of the puff; withdraw it and close the oven. If the skewer has moist bits of soufflé clinging to it, your soufflé will be creamy inside (and may not hold its height); serve now if you like it that way, or bake for a few more minutes. If the skewer is almost clean, the soufflé is more set and will maintain its puffiness better.
As soon as the soufflé has been removed from the oven, withdraw the pins and unwrap the collar. Immediately bring it to the table.
To serve, hold your serving fork and spoon back-to-back and plunge them into the crust to pull it apart. Spoon out portions that include some of the crusty sides and top, as well as the soft center.
“Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home” by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin


About johncpicardi

Welcome to my blog. I am the author of the novel Oliver Pepper's Pickle and the published plays The Sweepers and Seven Rabbits on a Pole, both plays have been produced off Broadway and around the US. I am a graduate of Johnson & Wales University where I majored in Culinary arts. I have a BA from The University of Massachusetts and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. This blog is about food and food memories and every other fantastic and scrumptious thing to do with it. My appetite and passion for food is large and runs deep, sometimes its indulgent and wild and other times wholesome and simple, often humorous and always immeasurable. I grew up outside of Boston and spent many hours of my childhood in front of the TV watching Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) and Julia Child prepare all kinds of luscious meals that would make my mouth water. Other days I’d follow my mother and two grandmothers around their simple, tidy kitchens as they busily prepared hearty fragrant meals, hand-cut pastas, preserved fruits and vegetables, baked yeasty breads, spicy cookies and frosted lopsided cakes. I was there by their side asking questions and helping where needed and there were plenty of times I was ordered to leave if I was in their way. It was a given that by the time I graduated High School I would be going off to Johnson & Wales University to study Culinary Arts. Those years were fine and good. I loved the hands on creativeness of cooking whether it be the simple lesson of washing a sink full of colorful salad greens, trussing a chicken or peeling a gorgeous carrot or the complicated lessons of making a French Country Pate or Julia Child’s Cassoulet or making Brioche, it all thrilled me and my dream had arrived!
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17 Responses to My Big Fat Cheese Soufflé Mess-up

  1. Sofia says:

    Awesome! I’m glad that I’m not the only one that admits to my mess ups! The taste is all that matters 🙂


  2. Judy Coletta says:

    It looks perfect to me. YUM


  3. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

    Despite all, I’m sure it was very tasty with all these great ingredients. 🙂
    I have a couple of tricks to suggest if I may – the rim should be cleaned, so that the batter will be able to rise high and not stick to it. It also helps to put the pan in the fridge so that the butter will harden before adding the batter.


  4. Haven’t had soufflé in years. And I don’t think I’ve ever made it.
    – So glad you went with, even though you say it was over-baked. Still looks great. What didn’t was my floor earlier today when making scones for the first time. Accidentally spilled a new canister of baking powder all over the floor. And the first thing I reached for? The camera to take a photo!


    • johncpicardi says:

      There you go… I think recording mistakes are as important as recording or victories …. —who needs that pressure when cooking….


  5. Wow …brought back nice memories of my Mom’s soufflé! Nice! :-). I almost posted my grilled burnt chicken … But just couldn’t bring myself to do it …. It looked pretty nasty!!! Lol. But still tasted good. Kudos to you for posting a not quite perfect soufflé .


  6. I happen to be very fond of imperfect food….wish I could have tried the souffle! Looks beautiful to me…


  7. I recently went to a blogging conference and one of the things that kept coming up – from David Lebovitz to Naimh Shields and others – was ‘keep it real’. They weren’t saying this to be flippant. What they meant was that readers want to read about failures as well as successes. Blogging failures is interesting, informing and levelling. Readers want to know that this person who normally makes wonderful, restaurantesque food in a perfect Poggenpohl kitchen is human. So hooray for the slightly browned souffle! You made a Julia Child souffle and and it was delicious. Not much a fail in my book.


  8. Hey there :-). How have you been? Was looking for more posts 🙂


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