Monday, March 8, 2010

Soufflé Series Part 2

In the first part of this series, I made a soufflé from traditional pastry ingredients.  This time I am going to try and mix up the recipe a little with the addition of agar agar(look here for more info) and baking soda.
36g butter
26g flour
2 green cardamom pods
82g honey
60g milk + 35g separate
15g sugar
2g agar
50g egg yolks
Amounts per soufflé made - 40g egg-whites, 6g sugar, 1/4 pinch malic acid powder, 1/8 tsp baking powder
Add the butter and cardamom to a small pot and melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk. Turn the heat to high and add the honey. Once incorporated stream-in the milk and cook until it boils, it will be very thick. ---->
Let this cool until close to room temperature(you just don't want to cook the yolks). Pour the agar and sugar into a small dish and mix them up to disperse the agar in the sugar. Whisk this mixture into the cold 35g of milk and then add the yolks. Pour all of this into the thickened milk and flour mixture. ----->
Stir and pass everything through a chinoise.
Decide how many soufflés you are going to make(up to six from this recipe) and butter and sugar 5oz. ramekins. All of the ingredients to follow need to be adjusted depending on how many soufflés you are making, the amounts are for one soufflé. Scale into a bowl, 45g of the base. To this base add 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder. Add 40g of whites into a separate large bowl. Add 6g of sugar and 1/4 of a pinch of malic acid powder to the whites. Whip the whites to medium peaks and add half to the scaled base. Mix until they just start to combine and then add the rest of the whites. Gently fold-in the rest of the whites and spoon into the ramekin, fill just to the top. Bake at 400F for about 9.5 minutes. Plate it up.

I know... these didn't come out as nice. Here is the analysis:
The results from this modified recipe were not better than the traditional.  It is possible to produce just as good a soufflé as the traditional recipe, but there was more opportunity for error. For instance look at this soufflé. It rose a lot, and it never fell. However, it blew itself up. The addition of the baking powder gave the soufflé extra rising power, causing the soufflé to turn itself inside-out near the end of the baking process. Still tasted great, but it
doesn't look great. This was the most common defect - continuing to try and rise after the top was set, and then breaking the top open.
The two pictured soufflés, side by side, were made from the same base, but the one on the right had the sides slightly stick to the side of the ramekin and it promptly turned itself inside-out as it rose. The one of the left was almost identical to the traditional method soufflé, but it did bulge a little on top, not appealing ascetically.

I hope to try out more versions of the modified soufflé base, however this attempt was mediocre, coming out slightly worse than the traditional version in the best instances. It turns out this recipe is actually more temperamental than the original, without any benefits.

I''m going to conclude with a few more thoughts on this recipe and the last.
The sugar added to the whites does make it harder to whip the whites to peaks, but it also makes the whites more viscous, the sugar binds water, and therefore the result is more stable. I am will to sacrifice the ease of whipping whites without any sugar for the extra stability, plus every time I did a trial I was able to get to soft peaks by hand in less than a minute even with the sugar.
The agar agar was meant give stability and enhance the texture of the soufflé, both inside and out. However, unlike the baking soda, the effects of the agar weren't really noticeable. The souffle was as stable and had as creamy a texture as in the original trial.  It did help maintain the structure of the soufflé once it cooled, but only once it completely cooled, well beyond ideal eating temperature. Any benefits that the agar could have produced were already being taken care of by the yolks.
At least with this general approach to making soufflés, agar and baking soda are duds. Maybe they could be beneficial in the future if I come at this technique from a different direction.
I'll post more on this after putting up some other stuff, I can only eat so many soufflés.

With love,


Francisco Migoya said...

Hey, try using gelatin instead of agar. Agar is not thermoreversible so it will not let the souffle base expand once it gels. Gelatin will stabilize the whole thing and melt nicely when it bakes. Add the gelating to your base while it is warm (before you fold in the whites). We had a little trick for these at the river cafe, where we would butter the ramekins and then coat them with a thin layer of sugar. We would also pipe a little soft butter around the entire top of the souffle (we would keep soft butter inside a squeeze bottle). Adding gelatin to the base also allows you to keep the souffle refrigerated during service, and when an order comes in you just pop it in the oven.

Adam Starowicz said...

Chef Migoya, thank you for the suggestion, foam stability without hindering the rising process sounds great. I will try some with gelatin, but the agar never gels in these souffles because it is added to the base cold, and will only gel after it has been hydrated(boiled/baked)and then cooled. Only if these souffles are let to cool to 40C after baking will the agar in them gel. Maybe agar would be good for souffles that are not served hot, gelling, and therefore setting them, once cool.

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