Reaching a culinary milestone is pretty exciting, although the road to get there is sometimes fraught with nerves. So was the case with making my very first soufflé. In fact, I think my kitchen stress levels rise whenever I cook with yeast or egg whites. I read the recipe until I had it almost memorized.
Every step of the way I wondered if I was doing things right. Were my egg whites beaten enough? Or maybe too much? Was I gentle enough when incorporating them? By the time they were finished baking, I had almost no fingernails left, but the true test of success comes when you take them out of the oven.
And behold! My soufflés did not collapse. They behaved perfectly for the camera. I thought I was finished taking photos when I dipped in my spoon and filled the crater with more custard, but it was so beautiful I was compelled to pick up my camera again. The soufflé was tinged with pink and light as air. The rhubarb was perfectly balanced by the custard. Success tastes sweet.
Rhubarb and Custard Soufflé
Adapted from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver
• 400g rhubarb, cut into 2.5cm chunks
• 100g + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
• 25g softened butter
• 6 gingersnap biscuits
• 150g ready-made custard, plus extra for serving
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon plain flour
• 4 egg whites
• Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and put a baking tray in to heat up.
2. Put the rhubarb into a saucepan with 100g caster sugar. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft. Set aside to cool completely.
3. Rub the insides of six ramekins with butter. Put the gingersnap biscuits into a sandwich bag, tie a knot in the top and smash the biscuits with a rolling pin to make fine crumbs. Alternately, process until fine with a food processor. Dust the insides of the buttered ramekins with the smashed biscuits, then shake out any crumbs and keep them for later.
4. Place a tablespoon of cooled stewed rhubarb into each ramekin. Mix the rest of the rhubarb with the custard, egg yolk, vanilla extract and flour.
5. In a large, clean bowl using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat on high speed for about 3 minutes, or until the whites and very stiff.
6. Gently fold 2 spoonfuls of the egg whites into the rhubarb mixture. Tip this into the bowl containing the egg whites and fold together very carefully. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and level the tops. Wipe the rims of the dishes clean.
7. Remove the hot baking pan from the oven and place the ramekins on it. Put back into the preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the soufflés are golden and have risen nicely. Serve immediately, sprinkled with your leftover gingersnap crumbs and a dusting of icing sugar.