Soufflés have developed a reputation as difficult and unpredictable creations, but they are actually not hard to make. The secret lies in beating the egg whites to the right stiffness, preparing the dish correctly, and serving the soufflé straight from the oven.
Use very fresh eggs for soufflés. The older the egg, the weaker the membrane around the yolk, and thus greater the chance of a little yolk getting into the egg white.
When separating eggs, give each one a firm crack, rather than crushing it. This way, there will be less chance of small bits of shell falling into the bowl. Only whisk egg whites when you are ready to use them.
While underbeaten egg whites will not hold their shape, overbeaten whites will have the appearance of ‘cracking’ and be lumpy. If this happens, there is nothing else for it but to start again with a fresh batch of whites.
If you’re using cheese in a soufflé, finely grate it so that it melts quickly without forming bubbles of oil.
When you tip your soufflé mixture into the dish, run a knife or a finger quickly around the dish between the mixture and the edge of the dish — this will help the soufflé rise.