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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Culinary School - Session 74: Soufflés and Quenelle Test

Culinary School: Session 74 (02.13.15)

Souffles and Quenelle Test

Wingardium Leviosa...

The Soufflé: pastry magic at its finest. No other dessert can compare with the explosive glory of these billowing towers of Meringue... a drama made all the more poignant by their moment-in-time life span.

I could wax lyrical for hours...

But the truth is, a Soufflé is far less mysterious and not nearly as daunting of a culinary challenge as many would have you believe. 

Pectin Based Raspberry Soufflé

A Soufflé has two main components: a base and a Meringue. The base imparts flavor. The Meringue provides leavening and structure.

Soufflé bases are traditionally made from Pastry Cream, Fruit Puree & Pectin, Chocolate or a Béchamel (one of the French Mother Sauces, made from a roux and milk). Regardless of the type of base used, it should have a strong flavor. 

Once prepared, the base is simply folded with a Meringue. The Meringue contains the trapped air necessary for the mechanical leavening action in the hot oven. The proteins in the whites set to form the structure of the Soufflé.

Soufflés are delicate. While the proteins in the egg whites provide some structure to the dessert, once a Soufflé is removed from the hot oven, it will begin to deflate. A Soufflé made from a heavier base (i.e. a higher fat content or a lower starch content) will result in an even more delicate Soufflé.

(Always) Save room for Ice Cream... and Cake...

With four Soufflés on the production schedule, was there really a need for some extra desserts? 

Of course! 

Raspberry Ice Cream and a couple of Mille Crepe Cakes (making good use of some left over Crepes, Lemon Curd and Chocolate Mousse).

Raspberry Ice Cream

Lemon Curd and Chocolate Mousse MIlle Crepe Cakes

- Ingredients Running Tally -

Ingredients used to date (02.13.15):
  • Flour: 24,190g
  • Eggs: 15,350g (307x)
  • Sugar: 18,310g
  • Butter: 15,440g
  • Milk/Cream: 15,780g
  • Chocolate: 2,925g (since 01.12.15)

    - The Recipes -


    Pastry Cream Based Soufflé

    A dessert Soufflé made using Pastry Cream as the base. The starch content of the Pastry Cream provides some additional structure, making for an impressive rise. The neutral base can be altered with extracts, zests or liquors.

    Focus Technique:
    Stabilizing the Pastry Cream Base: While Pastry Cream already contains a significant amount of starch, to provide more structure as a base for a Soufflé, the Pastry Cream is mixed with additional corn starch.
    - Mixing a Meringue for a Soufflé: The Meringue should be whipped to medium peaks. Given the lower sugar to egg ratio (as compared to most Meringues), a well-whipped Meringue for a Soufflé will not have the same glossy appearance. An over-whipped Meringue will actually cause a Soufflé to deflate faster.
    - Filling Soufflé Molds: Ramekins are most easily filled using a pastry bag. The hole cut in the bottom of the bag should be large enough so as not to deflate the batter when squeezed. The molds should be filled all the way up to the rim. The tops of the Soufflés can be smoothed with an offset spatula and the rims cleaned by running a finger along the edge.

    Vanilla and Orange Pastry Cream Soufflé

    Vanilla and Orange Pastry Cream Soufflé with Creme Anglaise


    Pectin Based Soufflé

    A dessert Souffle made from a base of Fruit Puree that has been thickened with Pectin. The resulting base is very thick and extremely stable. The base is then folded with an Italian Meringue. The Italian Meringue, in which the egg whites have been cooked, is more stable than a traditional French Meringue. As a result, this Soufflé batter has a very resilient structure - so much so that molds can be filled and refrigerated several hours before baking. 

    Focus Technique:
    - Selecting Fruits: Weaker flavors will "disappear" in a Soufflé. The resulting dessert will taste like non-distinct sweetness. Full-flavored, tart fruits (i.e. those that would also work well as a Curd) are best: lemon, raspberry, passion fruit, etc.
    - Combining the Pectin and Fruit Puree Base: Like all preparations using powdered Pectin, in order to prevent lumps from forming, the Pectin should first be mixed with sugar before it is added to any liquid. It is also important for the liquid to be cool. Adding the Pectin to warm or hot liquid will result in lumps.
    - "Folding" the Meringue: Given the structural strength of this Pectin base and the Italian Meringue, it is possible to aggressively fold or even whisk the Pectin base and Meringue. It may actually be necessary given how thick the Pectin base can become.

    Unbaked Pectin Based Raspberry Soufflé

    Unbaked Pectin Based Raspberry Soufflés

    Baked Pectin Based Raspberry Soufflés

    Baked Pectin Based Raspberry Soufflés with Powdered Sugar


    Chocolate Based Souffle

    A dessert Soufflé made from melted chocolate, butter and egg yolks. This base has a high fat content. The resulting Soufflé is very moist but will not rise as dramatically as other Soufflés. 

    Chocolate Based Soufflé


    Béchamel Based Souffle

    A savory Souffle made with a traditional Béchamel base. The Béchamel base contains flour, which helps support the structure of the Soufflé. However, this support is largely offset by the high fat content from the cheese. And unlike dessert Soufflés in which the Meringue is prepared with sugar (sugar greatly improves the structure of a Meringue), the Meringue for savory Soufflés is a simple egg white foam and is very delicate. 

    Focus Technique:
    - Making a Béchamel: The Béchamel for the Soufflé is made with butter, flour and milk. The butter and flour are heated to make a blonde Roux. A darker Roux can be made for a deeper flavor; however, the binding strength of the flour will start to weaken as it cooks. 
    - Flavoring the Base: Full-flavored cheeses are best. The base should also be sufficiently seasoned with salt and other spices. 
    - Mixing the Final Batter: The Béchamel and cheese base is very dense. The simple meringue, which contains no sugar, is structurally very weak. Given the density of the batter, the Soufflé will not rise as much as those made with other bases.

    Unbaked Béchamel Based Cheese Soufflé

    Unbaked Béchamel Based Cheese Soufflés

    Baked Béchamel Based Cheese Soufflé


    Quenelle Test

    The Introduction to Plated Desserts ended with a quick test of technique. How good are you at making six identical, perfectly formed Quenelles?

    The answer... eh, I'd say a solid B-. It's just something else to practice, practice practice...

    Focus Technique:
    - Using Hot and Dry Quenelle Spoons: Regardless of the product being served (e.g. Whipped Cream, Ice Cream, etc.), the cleanest Quenelles are made using very hot and dry spoons. The spoons should be heated and cleaned between every scoop for the best results.
    - Tempering Products: No matter how good your technique, certain products do not Quenelle well. Rock-hard Ice Cream should be allowed to temper. Whipped Cream should be whipped to medium-stiff peaks.

    Plated Quenelle Test

    Next - Session 75: Marzipan Fruit and Pastillage Rocking Horse

    Previous - Session 73: Crepes Suzette and Chocolate Mousse Crepes

    Take a look at the full syllabus

    Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
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