The rye flour and mushrooms are what makes this meal substantial. It is light and airy – the egg whites take care of that – but filling, flavourful and impressive enough for guests.
By Nancy Anne Harbord
Here in Stockholm, where today we had our first frost, the wild mushroom season is drawing to a close. Here most of the mushrooms I see look damp and raggedy and the opportunity to stock up in time for winter is nearly gone.
Luckily, I am still eating mushrooms I preserved last spring, having stumbled upon both an enormous patch of beautifully fresh St. George’s mushrooms and a great technique for preserving them long-term in the freezer.
As always, you can swap pretty much any mushroom for the ones I used. If I’m buying from a shop, then I typically go for chestnut/cremini mushrooms, but use whatever you fancy.
Here the whole grains come in the form of rye flour, used to thicken the roux at the base of this hearty soufflé. If you can call a soufflé hearty!
I also use a few sourdough crumbs to line the dish to stop the mixture sticking and give it the best chance of a good rise, but they are a pretty minimal ingredient in the grand scheme of things.
I have been experimenting with swapping plain flours for whole grain flours with a variety of different dishes, but have been reluctant to try this with delicate dishes such as a soufflé.
But then I saw this recipe by Dan Lepard – one of my baking heroes. Today’s recipe is pretty solidly based on his with just a few minor tweaks. His uses blue cheese, which I am sure would be absolutely delightful, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I opted for ‘Parmesan’.
I also added a handful of fresh purple basil, as this year’s basil plants were calling out to be harvested before winter really sets in. If you have other cheeses or herbs in your fridge, they will almost certainly work just as well if you want to substitute.
There is a lot of talk about the difficulty of getting a good rise on your soufflé, but in my experience, as long as you whip your egg whites properly and use a correctly sized dish, you’ll be fine.
If you want a huge rise, make sure you fill your dish to about three-quarters full. I did not do this as I only had one suitable dish available, so although my dinner was fluffy and delightful, it was not particularly voluminous.
This meal serves two as a main course, but if you want to serve it as a starter you can also use four individual ramekins instead.
The rye flour and mushrooms are what makes this meal substantial. It is light and airy – the egg whites take care of that – but filling, flavourful and impressive enough for guests. Or for your beloved ones.
- 1 large slice of wholegrain, sourdough bread
- butter for greasing the dish
- 600g wild or chestnut/brown mushrooms, dry sautéed (see technique here)
- 60g milk
- 150g double cream
- 60g rye flour
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon hot, smoked paprika
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- big handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 medium eggs, separated
- 100g 'Parmesan' or regular parmesan if not serving as vegetarian
- Preheat the oven to 190c. Grind the bread to breadcrumbs in a food processor. Butter and breadcrumb the inside of the soufflé dish, knocking out any excess. My dish was 20cm wide and 8cm high - with this size of dish, the soufflé will rise about 3cm above the edge. If you want a higher, more spectacular rise, use a dish with a smaller volume.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream and rye flour (sprinkle the flour in gradually to avoid lumps). Add the mushrooms, garlic, paprika and black pepper and heat over medium heat until very well thickened. Add the fresh basil and salt. Taste a little of the mixture and add more salt if you think it needs it - it should be fairly salty to allow for the addition of egg whites - and stir to combine. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the mushroom mixture and the whites to a very clean bowl for whisking (the bowl you choose will depend on your whisking method and whether you are using a machine or not.) Beat the yolks into the mushroom mixture until thoroughly incorporated. Whisk the whites to stiff peaks (I used a stand mixer). Gently fold the whites into the mushroom mixture - there should still be lots of air in the batter, but there should be no large blobs of egg white.
- Pour into the prepared dish - if necessary, the uncooked soufflé will hold for about an hour after it has been added to the dish. Bake at 190c for 35 minutes, until well risen and firm, but still moist and creamy in the centre. Serve immediately.