Tami over at Running With Tweezers is hosting this year’s first Hay Hay it’s Donna Day, an event founded by Barbara of Winos and Foodies . This time the theme is … gulp – soufflés. For some reason soufflés strike fear in most cooks including yours truly. The good news is, this is not the first time I’ve made soufflés, the bad news is the only ones I’ve made were dessert soufflés specifically chocolate and as much as I love my chocolate soufflés I wanted to do something different for this event. Soufflé literally translates as “breath”. It is hard to describe the pleasure one experiences as you watch the rise of the soufflé from a seemingly unremarkable looking batter to a fascinating and delicate puff. The soufflé I had in my mind to make was something I’ve seen from Patrick O’ Connell’s book Refined American Cuisine. My admiration for O’Connell stems from the fact that he is entirely self-taught;learning his craft from reading cookbooks. He always manages to incorporate a hint of elegance in all his concoctions even if the ingredients are as ordinary as, in this case, oatmeal. So how interesting can you make this breakfast staple? This oatmeal soufflé has two layers. The regular sweetened oatmeal is placed on the bottom of the dish, and the lighter soufflé batter is placed on top allowing the soufflé to rise while still maintaining the warm porridge texture that it is known for. The resulting soufflé was incredibly complex. It had an attractive brown crusty top and as you dig your spoon into the spongy layers, you are met with a tasty pudding like consistency; then as you reach the base, an explosion of creamy sugary flavors blend to give a satisfying finish. The process to make this is fairly involved but not too lengthy; the end result, definitely worth it. If you love breakfast, there is nothing heartier than this glorious soufflé to start your day!
Adapted from “Refined American Cuisine” by Patrick O’Connell
For the soufflé molds
3 tbs softened butter
4 tbs sugar
Sweetened Oatmeal Bottom Layer
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk
1 ¾ cups instant oats
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs maple syrup
¼ cup instant oats
2 tbs butter
1 tbs all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cup milk
¾ cup sweetened oatmeal (reserved from previous recipe)
½ cup plus 3 tbs sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tbs dark rum
½ tsp cornstarch
3 egg yolks
12 egg whites
To prepare the soufflé molds
Butter the inside of 8 eight-ounce ramekins and sprinkle them with sugar.
To prepare the Sweetened-Oatmeal Bottom Layer
In a stainless steel saucepan, bring the heavy cream and milk to a boil. Stir in the oats and boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and maple syrup.
Remove from heat and pour ¼ of the sweetened oatmeal into each ramekin. Reserve the remaining sweetened oatmeal for the soufflé layer.
To prepare the soufflé layer
Preheat the oven to 375 °F degrees
In a spice grinder or small food processor, grind the oats until they resemble coarse meal.
In a 4-quart stainless steel saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the ground oats and flour and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
Slowly whisk the milk into the flour mixture and bring to a boil. Add the reserved sweetened oatmeal and stir until combined. Turn the heat to low. Stir in ½ cup sugar, the maple syrup, and the rum.
In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the egg yolks and add to the saucepan. Whisk constantly and remove from heat just before the mixture comes to a boil. Let cool slightly.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, begin whisking the egg whites on low speed until they become frothy. Increase the speed to high and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar in a steady stream. Continue whipping until the egg whites form medium-stiff peaks.
Stir a small portion for the egg whites into the cooled oatmeal mixture, and then fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the soufflé mixture on top of the sweetened-oatmeal bottom layer in the ramekins.
Place the filled ramekins on a baking sheet and place it in the center of the oven. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the soufflés are just set and light golden brown.
Remove the soufflés and serve immediately with rum-soaked currants and maple syrup.
It is important to have a mis en place set for all your ingredients because you have to work fairly quickly. Read through the recipe first to know which ingredients go with what step because there are similar ingredients for different steps. Also it appears that the resulting yields of the recipe are over-estimated. When I made the sweetened oatmeal layer I just used half of what was required since I was only making 4 servings. The book stated the result would be 1 cup, so I should potentially get only ½ cup. I ended up with 1 ½ cups of oatmeal. I left out the 1-cup yield in the recipe instructions so it will not be confusing. There is a ¾ cup requirement for the soufflé base but I just used all of what was left of the sweetened oatmeal.
As with all soufflé recipes, the beating of the egg whites is the important step that would guarantee a good rise. Egg whites need to be at room temperature so I normally do the separation of the eggs first before I do anything else. It is easiest to separate eggs while they are cold. I start to beat the whites at a low speed and then shift to high when you start seeing foam. When the whisk starts to make lines in the egg whites I start adding the sugar a little at a time. When the egg whites reach a medium stiff peak (whites hold their shape when you lift the whisk), turn off the mixer. Alternatively, you can finish beating by hand to avoid over beating.
When folding the whites into your soufflé base, take ¼ of the whites and just mix it thoroughly into the base to lighten it. Do not worry about deflation here, this is your sacrificial egg white. Fold in the rest of the whites slowly and carefully. It is okay to see a little streaking; it will all get blended in as the soufflé cooks. The recipe originally called for soaking dried currants in rum but I preferred to use blackberries. I would definitely make this soufflé again. It’s a delicious twist on a homespun favorite!