Soufflés have a reputation for being tricky to make. But it needn't be so - these can be rustled up with ease.
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5, 190°C, 170°C fan. Warm a baking sheet in the oven.
- Brush 8 x 100ml (3 1⁄2fl oz) ramekins with melted butter, then sprinkle over the breadcrumbs to form an even layer. Tap to remove excess breadcrumbs.
- Pour the milk into a pan and add the bay leaf, onion and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf, onion and peppercorns.
- In another pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour, mustard and cayenne pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Gradually whisk in the infused milk to make a smooth sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and egg yolks, and season. Cover and leave to cool slightly.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks. Gently fold a spoonful into the cheese sauce. Repeat until all the egg white is folded in.
- Divide the mixture between the ramekins and level the top. Run a finger around the inside rim of the ramekins. Bake for 8-10 minutes on the hot baking tray. Serve immediately.
Sprinkling ramekins with breadcrumbs or sugar helps the mixture rise; infusing the milk gives extra flavour; and folding in egg whites gently helps create light, fluffy soufflés.
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