A puff of hot air - SouffléTwo recipes by Carême
The introduction to the recipe is here (about Antonin Carême and the history of soufflés), together with the recipe for strawberry soufflé. This recipe for mint soufflé is very long in its original version, so it got its own page. The recipe is further down, first you can read about the several kinds of dough that Carême used for his pasties and soufflés (because soufflés were baked in a pie crust).
Carême's thoughts on dough
The following is not an exact translation, just an impression.
Puff pastry - There is quite a difference in making puff pastry in the winter and in the summer. The pastry must remain cool at all times, so during the summer heat special emasures have to be taken to ensure an excellent puff pastry. Carême suggests packing the dough in ice in between turnings. Carême differs from the common opinion that pastry dough must rest, he suggests baking it as soon as it has its final shape. A practised pâtissier should be able to start from scratch to baking the pastry dough in the oven within fifteen minutes in winter (when it is cold).
Start with dumping the sifted flour on a worktop, which in the summer is preferably a marble top. Make a 'crown' or 'fountain' of this small flour mount by making a hole in the middle that you make wider and wider until it resembles more a dyke surrounding a lake.The lake, that is the water with salt end egg yolks which are poured in carefully, without breaking the 'dyke' of flour. Using your fingertips, you mingle more and more of the flour with the liquids. This is much more fun to do than throwing everything in a food processor!
Now the dough is mixed well without adding the butter, and rolled out. Then three quarters of the butter that is cut in small pieces are divided over the sheet of dough, and the dough is folded in three, rolled out and folded again. After a few minutes rest (during the summer the dough is packed in ice for this rest) the dough is rolled out once more, the remaining butter is divided over the sheet of dough, and the folding and rolling out is repeated once or twice. The dough has now been folded and rolled out again eight to sixteen times in all, resulting in a light pastry that will rise beautifully in the oven.
The next dough Carême describes is puff pastry based on other fats: suet, lard and oil. Cleaned suet is ground with olive oil or lard in a mortar until it has the consistency of winter butter. Using equal amounts of suet and lard will result in a quite attractive crust, however, the crust must be eaten warm.
You can also prepare a dough based on veal fat that comes from cooked udders (I don't understand this, do veals have udders? I thought not!), that is treated the same way as beef fat (i.e. mixed with lard or oil). You can also use suet of veal.
If you prepare dough with just lard, you melt it, and baste the rolled out dough with it instead of covering it with pieces of cold butter.
Dough with oil is made as dough with lard.
Pastry dough - To make pastry dough for large pasties and croustades you dress a buttered mould with thinly rolled sheets of dough. The consistency of the dough must be exactly right. If the dough is too dry, it is hard to dress the mould, and the crust will crack. If on the other hand the dough is too moist, it won't bake well either. You can remedy both by adding small amounts of flour or water at a time to the dough until it is right. The dough is made with flour, egg yolks, butter, water and a little salt. This dough must be kneaded thoroughly (as opposed to puff pastry, which must emphatically NOT be kneaded at all!), until you get a firm, elastic ball of dough. Protect the dough from drying out by keeping it in a moist towel. In the summer heat you must work quickly, because the dough can get "burned" by the heat of the hands, and it will crumble. When this happens you cut the ball in four slices, sprinkle them with water, pile them up again and knead them for a short time. Now you can use the dough. In the winter it is easier to make dough, but even then you must pay attention that it is of the right humidity. This is the pastry dough that the croustades for soufflés are made of. On the picture to the left the two upper crusts and the one on the lower left is for baking soufflés (at least, in the note to the recipe for soufflé français it says that the croustade is made in the maner of hot paté à la financière, and these are the crusts that are recommended for that recipe).
Modern recipes for pastry dough.
The original recipe
This is the text as found in Le Patissier Royal Parisien ou Traité Elementaire et Pratique de la Patisserie Ancienne et Moderne, second impr., 1828, p.361 and 353-355. It is e really long story, but the modern adaptiation is a lot more concise. To the modern adaptation. To the introduction about the history of soufflés.
|Soufflé français à la menthe.|
Ayez de la menthe frisée et fraîchement cueillie; vous la mettez dans le lait presque en ébullition, avec le zeste d'un citron coupé très légèrement. L'infusion étant faite, vous la passez à la serviette, et vous terminez l'opération. Voyez-en les détails dans le premier article de la chapitre.
|French soufflé with mint. (p.361)|
Have freshly picked spearmint (Mentha spicata var. crispata). Put it in the milk that is almost boiling, with the finely cut peel of a lemon. When the infusion is ready ytou strain it through a cloth and finish the recipe. See for details the first article of the chapter.
|Soufflé français à la vanille.|
Ayez douze verres de bon lait bouilli, dans lequel vous jettez deux gousses de vanille. Le lait étant reduit d'un quart, vous le passez à la serviette dans une grande casserole, et, pendant que l'infusion se fait, vous lavez à plusieurs eaux tièdes une livre de riz Caroline. Ensuite vous le mettez dans une casserolée (sic) d'eau froide sur le feu, et, après quelques minutes d'ébullition, vous égouttez le riz dans un tamis. Vous le versez ensuite dans l'infusion de vanille, et le remettez sur le feu. Lorsqu'il est bien bouillant, vous placez la casserole sur les cendres rouges, afin que ce riz se crève doucement: ne mettez pas de feu sur le couvercle. Après trois quarts d'heure de cuisson, vous y joignez une livre de sucre en poudre, huit onces de beurre fin et une pincée de sel: remuez le tout parfaitement. Remettez de la cendre rouge dessous la casserole, pour faire mijoter le riz, sans discontinuer, pendant encore une bonne heure, après quoi les grains de riz doivent être doux et moelleux à la pression des doigts. Alors vous le passez promptement à l'étamine fine, comme une purée. Vous mettez ensuite cette crème de riz dans une grande casserole, que vous placez sur des cendres rouges, afin que'elle se maintienne chaude; pendant ce temps, vous fouettez seize blancs d'oeufs. Dès qu'ils sont presque assez fermes, faites ôter la crème du feu, et mêlez-y les seize jaunes d'oeufs. L'appareil doit être de la consistance d'une crème-pâtissière ordinaire, sinon vous ajoutez un peu de crème fouettée au liquide, afin de la rendre mollette convenablement. Vous y mèlez le quart des blancs, ensuite le reste. Vous mêlez cet appareil avec légèreté, comme on mèle la pâte à biscuit. Le tout étant bien amalgamé, vous versez láppareil dans une croustade (1) préparée à cet effet. Vous mettez le soufflé au four chaleur modérée, et lui donnez de deux heures à deux heures et demie de cuisson. Quand il est prèt à servir, vous mettez de la cendre rouge sur un grand plafond. Vous ôtez le soufflé du four pour le mettre dessus, afin de le soutenir. Pendant ce temps, vous le masquez de sucre en poudre, que vous faites glacer avec la pelle rouge, ou bien sans être glacé, et tout simplement masqué de sucre en poudre; puis vous le portez bien vite auprès de la salle à manger, où alors vous enlevez le soufflé avec un couvercle de casserole. Vous le posez sur son plat, qui doit être recouvert d'une belle serviette damassée. Otez les feuilles de papier qui soutiennent le soufflé, et servez-le promptement.
Ce soufflé servi de suite par l'amphitryon, est d'un moelleux parfait, et qui ne laisse rien à desirer au palais le plus délicat.
Cette crème de riz convient infiniment mieux aux soufflés, parce qu'elle à plus de consistance et qu'elle se soutient plus que la fécule de pommes de terre, et même que la farine de crème de riz et de marrons. Cependant ces farines sont aimables, sous le rapport qu'en un court espace de temps on peut marquer l'appareil du soufflé, tandis que, pour préparer la crème de riz, il faut au moins deux heures. Cela n'empêche pas que l'on doit donner la préférence à cette dernière.
Detail de l'appareil. Douze verres de lait réduits à neuf, deux gousses de vanille, une livre de sucre, une livre de riz Caroline, huit onces de beurre d'Isigny, une pincée de sel, seize jaunes et seize blancs fouèttés.
On observa les mêmes détails et les mêmes soins pour marquer tous les appareils des soufflés qui suivent. Je vais donner une idée seulement des infusions et des odeurs qui les distinguent les uns des autres.
(1) Cette croustade doit avoir onze pouces de diamètre sur trois pouces six lignes de hauteur; vous l'entourez avec trois feuilles de papier beurré. On fait cuire cette croustade d'avance, comme une croustade de pâté chaud à la financière, cependant en la dressant très mince. On peut la faire cuire en même temps que le soufflé; elle réussit tout aussi bien: mais le soufflé demande alors un peu plus de cuisson. Je préfère la croustade cuite d'avance.
|French soufflé with vanilla. (pp.353-355)|
Take twelve glasses of good boiled milk, add two vanilla pods. When the milk has been reduced by a quarter you strain it through a cloth into a large pan. And while the infusion simmers you wash long grain rice several times in luke-warm water. Then you put it in a pan with cold water on the fire, and after it has boiled a few minutes you drain the rice in a strainer. Then you add it to the infusion of vanilla, and put it back on the fire. When it is boiling you place the pan on red ashes so the rice can simmer softly. Do not put any coals (fire) on the lid. After a simmering of three quarters of an hour you add one pound of sugar to it, eight ounces of fine butter and a pinch of salt. Stir everything well. Again put glowing embers under the pan to let the rice simmer without pause for at least an hour, after which the rice grains must be soft and resilient to the touch. Then you'll strain it right away through a fine meshed sieve, like a purée. Then you put this rice pudding in a large pan which you place on glowing embers to keep it warm. Meanwhile you beat sixteen egg whites. As soon as they are firm enough you take the pudding off the fire and temper it with the sixteen egg yolks. The preparation must have the consistency of simple pastry cream, if not you add some semi-whipped cream to make it soft enough. Mix in a quarter of the whites, then the rest. Blend this preparation lightly, like when one blends sponge batter. When it has been blended enough, you pour the preparation into a croustade (1) that has been prepared to this end. Place the soufflé in the oven at moderate heat for two to two-and-a-half hour. When it is ready to be served, you place glowing embers on a large shallow dish. You take the soufflé from the oven to place it on top [i.d. on top of the hot ashes]. Meanwhile you sprinkle it with powdered sugar which you glaze with a red-hot fire shovel, or without it being glazed and simply covered with powdered sugar. Then you carry it very quickly to the dining-hall, where you lift the soufflé with the cover of a pan (? this is what I read, but I can't imagine what you're supposed to do here). You position it on its dish that must be covered with a nice damast serviette. Remove the sheets of paper that support the soufflé, and serve it at once.
This soufflé, that will be served by the host, is of a perfect softness, and leaves nothing to wish for even to the most pampered palate.
This rice pudding is infinitely more suitable for soufflés, because it has more body and keeps better than potato flour, and even than flour of rice pudding (does he mean plain rice flour or something else?) and of chestnuts. However, these flours are appropiate, with the understanding that in a short period of time one can make the preparation of the soufflé, while, to make a rice pudding, one needs at least two hours. That doesn't prevent that one must give prevalence to the last.
List of ingredients: twelve glasses of milk reduced to nine, two vanilla pods, a pound of sugar, a pound of Carolina rice, eight ounces of butter from Isigny, a pinch of salt, sixteen yolks and sixteen beaten whites.
One follows the same directions and observes the same care in making all the preparations for soufflés that follow. I will just give an idea of the infusions and flavourings that distinguish one from the other.
(1) This pastry case must be eleven inches (27,5 centimeter) across to three inches and six "lines" (9 centimeter) high. You dress it with three sheets of buttered paper. One bakes this pastry case in advance, like a pastry case for hot paté à la financière, but dresses it very thinly. One can bake it at the same time as the soufflé. It will also turn out well, but the soufflé needs a little more baking time. I prefer the pastry case to be baked in advance.
Modern adaptation of the recipe
Well, that was quite a mouthful, the recipe above. The modern adaptation will need (slightly) less words.
Nowadays this kind of soufflé is made with a roux based on butter and flour, but because this is a historical recipe, the soufflé will be made with cooked rice, even though this will take more time. However, as in the recipe for strawberry soufflé, I haven't used a croustade. This soufflé is heavier than the strawberry soufflé, so the amounts below are enough for twelve people as dessert. But it is easy to halve the amounts. Preparation in advance 90 minutes; Preparation 35 minutes.
Handle with care!
Before beginning with the recipe some important advise: 1. If you make one large soufflé it is better to use a low, wide mould than a high, narrow one. I prefer to use small individual soufflé dishes. 2. Don't even THINK about opening the oven door while the soufflé is baking! 3. Use a moderate heat to bake the soufflé. 4. Serve the soufflé as soon as possible. This means that you have to time the moment the soufflé enters the oven rightly. 5. Take care that during transport of the soufflé it is as warm and draught-free as possible.
For the infusion
a handful of mint leaves (not the stalks!)
grated peel of 1 lemon
8 decilitres (3 1/3 cup/1 2/3 pint) milk
180 gram (1 2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp.) icing sugar
180 gram (1 cup - Tbsp.) rice
80 gram (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
pinch of salt
6 yolks and 6 whites of eggs
some extra cream if necessary
extra butter and icing sugar for the mould
Optional: 2 Tbsp. crème de menthe
thin slices of lemon, mint leaves/flowers, silverpills
soufflé dish with a content of 1½ liter (6 cups or 3 pints), or 12 small soufflé dishes
Preparation in advance
You start with the flavouring of the soufflé, in this case an infusion of mint and lemon in milk.
Pour boiling water over the lemon to remove the thin wax layer (even when you use ecologically grown lemons). Grate the peel (only the yellow, not the white). Pick the mint leaves (don't use the stalks), wash or wipe them clean, and cut or tear them in strips.
Heat the milk with the lemon peel and the mint leaves, let this simmer on a low fire (the milk mustn't boil) until the milk has evaporated with 25% to six decilitres. Then strain the milk.
Meanwhile wash the rice with lukewarm water, then put it on the fire in a pan with enough cold water. Bring to the boil, let boil for two or three minutes, then strain the rice.
Now take a pan with a thick bottom, put in the rice and the milk-infusion, heat until almost boiling. Now cover the pan with a lid, and temper the fire to very low (use a heat diffuser if necessary). Let the rice simmer for an hour. Fifteen minutes before the rice is ready, add butter, powdered (or icing) sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir very carefully until everything has blended. When the rice is done it has to be pureed, either by straining it or using a blender. The pureed rice must be of a creamy consistency, add some whipped cream if it is too stiff. Return the pureed rice to the pan and keep warm. If you so chose, you can stir some crême de menthe through the rice. That is not in the original recipe, but I like it.
Separate the eggs while the rice is simmering. grease a soufflé mould with butter and sprinkle the inside with icing sugar.
Preheat the oven to 170 dgC/335 oF.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt.
Temper the yolks with the warm puréed rice. To avoid curdling, start with mixing a little of the warm purée with the yolks, whilst stirring. Add some more of the purée, keep stirring. When the yolks have reached about the same temperature as the rice, you can add them to it, stirring the purée well. Replace the pan on a very low fire and keep stirring the rice purée until the yolks are completely incorporated. Now spoon the beaten whites through the mixture, first a quarter, then the rest. Pour the mixture in a soufflé mould, or in several small individual soufflé moulds. Place them in the oven, slightly below the center.
According to Carême the soufflé must bake for at least two hours, but at 170 dgC/335 oF it suffices to bake small soufflés for 25 minutes, and a large one for not more than 35 minutes.
Sprinkle the soufflé with icing sugar. Carême suggests caramellizing the sugar by holding a red-hot fire scoop over the soufflé. That is not an item most modern kitchens will have laying about, but more recent recipes as p.e. in Escoffier's Ma Cuisine, suggest sprinkling the soufflés with the sugar five minutes before the end of the baking. However, you'll have to open the ovendoor to do that. I prefer to sprinkle the soufflés with the sugar and serve them right away.
How to separate eggs?
Very simple: Pour the raw egg on the fingers of your (clean!) hand, and let the white run through your fingers. The yolk will remain wiggling on your fingers. If you absolutely must, buy an egg separator, but when nature has provided us with the perfect tool, why waste money? Other people use the eggshell halves to separate the yolk from the white, but these shells have sharp edges.
How does one beat egg whites?
Although this is wide-spread knowledge, I 'll state it here once more: a soufflé is made with beaten egg whites, and egg whites will never be stiff enough unless the eggs are at room temperature to start with, and all kitchen implements are absolutely fat-free. I live in a temperate climate, so my eggs never see the inside of a refrigerator anyway, but if you keep your eggs refrigerated, remember to take them out at least an hour before using them..
Crack the eggs one by one above a seperate bowl. If the yolk breaks you can't use the white for the soufflé, and if you crack all eggs above the same bowl and the last yolk breaks, you'll have to throw away all the whites. So you'll need three bowls, one to break the eggs in, and two others to collect the separated yolks and whites. If you're unsure whether the bowl is absolutely grease-free, just rub a slice of lemon in it, then rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.
All descriptions of ingredients
Butter from Isigny - Isigny is situated in Normandy, between Cherbourg and Le Havre. The butter from Isigny was famous as early as the sixteenth century. The producers claim that the combination of briny sea-breeze and the quality of the meadows the cows graze on give butter from Isigny its unique quality. However, if you can't find real Isigny butter, you can use any other butter, as long as it is unsalted.
The editions below are in my possession. Links refer to available editions.
All books mentioned on this site (with short reviews)
- Antonin Carême, Le pâtissier pittoresque Extraits choisis et presentés par Allen S. Weiss. Ed. Mercure de France, 2003
- Antonin Carême, Le Patissier Royal Parisien ou Traité Elementaire et Pratique de la Patisserie Ancienne et Moderne, second edition, 1828 (with thanks to Joop Witteveen, who kindly allowed me to study his volume)
- Auguste Escoffier, Ma Cuisine (Sterling Publishing, 2001)
- Ian Kelly, Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Careme, the First Celebrity Chef (Short, 2003 and other editions)
- Anne Willan, Great Cooks and Their Recipes: From Taillevent to Escoffier (Bulfinch Press 1992)